By Mayor Brandon E. Dewey, Stevensville
Our budget is balanced. Our reserves are stable. Our community is experiencing growth and opportunity even despite effects of COVID-19 and I am committed to accomplishing what I was elected to do. Yet a handful of activists with a dangerous agenda to divide our community are trying to overturn the definitive will of Stevensville’s voters and bring broken government to our Town with this recall effort.
The last thing Stevensville needs is another wasteful special election, supported by those who demonize Stevensville’s people and attack Stevensville’s values. As we stand together in solidarity, as a community, I want to make it clear why I am not resigning from office. I will not be bullied into carrying out self-serving agendas or stepping aside to make room for those who will. I have demonstrated my commitment to the success of our community, and that has not changed as we face distractions designed to precipitate controversy and a fundamentally misplaced lack of trust in the good generated by the dedicated team at Town Hall.
The recall is wrong, and the allegations asserted in Leanna Rodabaugh’s petition are false. Instead, facts released by the Town and verified by the City Attorney prove that I did nothing illegal. It was explained publicly at the March 12th Council Meeting, which Leanna attended, that the Town’s purchasing policy outlines provisions for purchasing services, as does State law. The issue was investigated by the City Attorney prior to the recall petition being filled, and all allegations were disproven. There are some in our community who maintain that the Council cannot delegate the authority in the purchasing policy; the fact remains that the Council can delegate purchasing authority. Robin Holcomb and Jim Crews were both on the Town Council that adopted the purchasing policy, which has been in place for many years.
The majority of our community does not support a recall. Supporters of the recall have suggested that I resign because “it is embarrassing to have the community lose faith in you as an elected official.” Having over 250 signatures on a petition does indeed make a statement, as that number makes up 20% of our local electorate. It also means that 80% of our voters have not yet officially weighed in on the issue. In my daily work within our community, it is abundantly clear that there is a good number of citizens who do not support the recall and continue to support me as your Mayor. 250 signatures seeking my recall is not something to resign over. In fact, I won the election with 272 voters choosing other candidates. Former Mayor Gene Mim Mack won his 2013 election with 271 voters choosing other candidates. These numbers show that while there are opposing views in our community, voters show up to the polls to elect mayors with proven leadership and integrity.
The alternative is ugly, and we all know the real goal behind the recall petition and any demand for my resignation. We can acknowledge the short list of who would likely succeed me if I were to resign, since it has been a goal of some to force my resignation from day one of my administration, as admitted by Councilmember Bob Michalson on multiple occasions. This recall is a direct effort to put “their guy” in office.
Your choice and vote will be reversed, and your voice silenced. Upon resignation, you will not have a vote in who replaces me, the person you chose to lead this community forward. Once the vacancy exists, it is the Town Council who will appoint someone to fill the vacancy until the next general election. This means that person could hold the office for over a year before an election would reverse whatever decision the Council makes in appointing the vacancy.
Your Mayor is stronger than you think. Misinformed detractors will claim that we have a “weak mayor” form of government. In truth, though, the Mayor has certain powers and authorities that put us in a “strong mayor” category of the Council-Mayor form of government. For example, the office of Mayor has the power to exercise absolute control over all departments and divisions of the town. Laws and technical terms aside, you elected me during a time when what we had for representation in Town Hall wasn’t working. The community chose to restore the same responsible management and accountability that existed under previous successful administrations by electing me. We knew it would be hard, and we knew it would require change. What we are experiencing today is that change, the hardest kind where upstanding values and high morals clash with mismanaged egos and clandestine motives. My resiliency, integrity, and commitment to the best outcome possible for our community is what has kept me strong and in office through what we thought were our worst days.
Deceitful politics aside, there is much more to accomplish together as we usher in an era of growth and improved livability for our community. The staff and I are driven to continue working with members of the Town Council in materializing your aspirations for more open, responsive, and sustainable government. We are accomplishing so much together; we cannot let irrelevant issues and ridiculous accusations with no basis impede the progress we have made.