Newly-elected voices for the city of Jordan got to work at their first meeting of 2021.
New council members Jeremiah Monyok and Matthew Schmitt, as well as Robert Whipps, who was re-elected in 2020 for a second term, were officially sworn in at the Jan. 4 council meeting by new Mayor Mike Franklin.
At the beginning of each year the council renews its contracts with services like city engineering and the city attorney.
Though these items were on the agenda at the Dec. 21 meeting, the former council led by Mayor Tanya Velishek moved to table these items and allow the new council to vote on them.
At Monday's meeting during the administrator's report, Council member Amanda Schuh raised the question of what would become of these items.
Though both contracts with the city were done at the end of 2020, City Administrator Tom Nikunen said it appeared that both Bolton & Menck and the city attorney would continue to work with Jordan without a signed contract until a new one was created.
Whipps said before approving renewed contracts he would push for a cost comparison among similar services in neighboring cities.
"The council moved to push further discussion until the cost comparison can be prepared by Nikunen.
"(The price comparison) is something we should be able to answer," Whipps said.
Schuh also brought up the council's recurring discussions about alleys in the city, which had been contentious in the final meetings of the former council.
The subject of paving alleys in downtown Jordan remained off the agenda at the Jan. 4 meeting.
"There's no pressing need to know about alleys in the next couple of weeks, right?" Council member Jeremy Goebel asked.
"No, but it's a thing that keeps coming up for projects and things, so definitely would like to discuss," Schuh said.
Jeff Will application
Another old council item that resurfaced was applications for the planning commission, which the previous council had declined to vote on at its Dec. 21 meeting due to the fact that former council member Jeff Will had applied for a spot.
"As a member of this council I just don't feel right voting on this," Council member Bill Heimkes said at that meeting.
There were three applications for spots on the planning commission — Jane Bolman and Brenda Lieske made up the other two.
"I'm just going to voice my opinion on this," Heimkes said. "There's a reason he's not sitting on that council with you guys."
As a counter-point, Goebel, who also served on the planning commission with Will at one point, brought up the fact that Will had served on the planning commission for a number of years before running for council and that it was a strength of his.
"He has a passion for that specific topic," Goebel said. "I'm just grateful that despite everything, he's still willing to give us his time."
Will was removed from all council committees after a series of complaints about his conduct with city staff and former mayor Velishek, who he ended up signing a no-contact agreement with in September 2019.
Whipps said he thought Will understood the complaints and was remorseful and that the council decided what his punishment would be and enforced it for a period of time.
"Jeff isn't afraid to think critically about some of the new proposals that are coming through," said Whipps, adding Will isn't afraid to be a naysayer on some projects.
He also said the current commission, with the exception of Heimkes, made a full recommendation to have Will back.
"Generally, I think most people (on the commission) are excited to have him back," Whipps said.
Schuh commented that the safety of city staff needs to be an additional consideration beyond the opinions of planning commission members.
The council voted 4-2 to approve Will, Lieske and Bolman to the commission. Heimkes and Schuh voted nay, while Whipps, Goebel, Monyok and Franklin voted yes. Council member Matthew Schmitt abstained from the vote.
The next council meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 19 at City Hall.
Corrections: An earlier version of this story misidentified who said the following: "He has a passion for that specific topic... I'm just grateful that despite everything, he's still willing to give us his time." It was stated by council member Jeremy Goebel.
Additionally, some of the quotes by council member Robert Whipps were condensed for clarity. They have been summarized instead, in this updated article.