FARRELL — With all the passion she takes to her day job, the Rev. Tiffany Holden urged city council to be united Monday as it moved into the first meeting of its new session.
“I hope that we can move forward with people supporting one another,” she said.
After a contentious reorganization meeting Jan. 6, moving forward in support of one another had been a concern. That night, a majority of council voted to appoint former Mayor Olive McKeithan to fill the council vacancy created by the election of Mayor Kimberly Doss in November.
Doss had two years left on her term in office when she was sworn in as mayor at the reorganization meeting.
At that session, Doss had opposed McKeithan’s appointment to council and accused the former mayor of leaving her successor a hostile voice mail message.
Council, for the most part, acted in accordance with Holden’s counsel.
Except for a proposal to remove Councilman Terrence Crumby and Lou Falconi from the city Recreation Commission and replace them with Jermaine Holden and Vern Wright, every item on the agenda passed unanimously.
The Recreation Commission measure was defeated in a 5-2 vote, with Crumby, McKeithan, Cliff Gregory, Albert Rock and Robert Burich voting against. Doss and Stephen Bennefield voted for replacing the two committee members. Crumby and Falconi will remain on the commission.
But that didn’t mean Monday’s meeting was free of discord. City resident Lawrence Owens presented documents for a lawsuit, filed Friday in Mercer County Common Pleas Court, calling for McKeithan’s removal on the grounds that she is ineligible to serve on council.
In his filing, Owens cited a provision in the city’s home rule charter that prohibits elected officials from being appointed to any “compensated appointive city office or city employment until one (1) year after the expiration of the term for which he/she was elected to office.”
Owens said he interpreted that to cover McKeithan’s appointment to city council.
“I don’t think people went to the polls to unseat a mayor to have council give her a seat right back,” Owens said.
McKeithan said that provision doesn’t apply to appointments to the elected city council, but only to jobs with the city, including clerk or work with the street department.
Owens said Crumby should have abstained from the vote to put McKeithan on council because he has a child with McKeithan’s daughter. However, McKeithan said she and Crumby are not related, either by blood or marriage.
City Solicitor Stephen Mirizio declined to address Owens’ lawsuit.
“Let’s let the courts make that decision,” Mirizio said.
Doss, who oversaw a largely drama-free meeting in her first full session as mayor, also had no comment on Owens’ assertions.
“We have to wait and see what the judge says,” she said.
Follow Eric Poole on Facebook and Twitter @HeraldEricPoole. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.