Basehor mayor denies request for special council meeting before recalls take effect
Shortly after Basehor residents voted to remove them from office, Basehor City Council members Iris Dysart and Dennis Mertz joined with member Fred Box this week to call for a special council meeting in order to appoint a new council president, the Sentinel has learned.
Mayor Terry Hill, whom residents also voted to recall earlier this week, denied their request for a special meeting on Thursday.
Dysart said the purpose of the special meeting would have been for the three council members to appoint Box as the new council president so that he would become mayor after the three recalled officials are removed from office. That moment is expected to be shortly after the clock strikes midnight early Tuesday morning, after county commissioners canvass recall election votes Monday.
“We are still legitimately councilpeople until Tuesday morning at 12:01,” Dysart said Friday.
Box was the third council member, along with Mertz and Dysart, to vote for the surprise firing of former city administrator Mark Loughry in September — the action on which the petition seeking the recall of the two council members centered. Leaders of the recall effort said last fall that the only reason they did not also seek to recall Box was that state law forbids the recall of a majority of the city council at the same time.
Dysart said she had called for the special meeting because she was concerned about the city’s future.
“This is just really important,” she said.
Hill told the Sentinel on Friday he had denied the request for the meeting because he believed it was inappropriate for the council to take any action until voters’ wishes had been carried out and he, Mertz and Dysart were no longer in office.
“We have no need for a special meeting,” Hill said.
Box said he began the effort to have a special meeting, but he declined to comment on what the meeting’s purpose was. He also said he did not take issue with the mayor’s choice to deny the request.
Mertz, the current council president, said that he signed the request for a meeting when a city staff member brought it to him, and he did not know who had started the effort. He said it was his general policy to sign on to a request for a special meeting made by another council member.
“I thought it was kind of rude not to do it if another council member wants to do it,” Mertz said.
Basehor City Clerk Corey Swisher confirmed that on Wednesday the city had received a request for a special meeting, signed by Mertz, Dysart and Box, to appoint a new council president. The mayor denied the request, Swisher said.
State statute allows for the mayor to authorize a special meeting if it's requested by three council members, said Kim Winn, deputy director of the League of Kansas Municipalities. The mayor is not required to call a meeting if council members request it.
The council is scheduled to meet again before the officials are removed, at 7 p.m. Monday. That gathering is a work session, though, during which the council can only have discussion and cannot take any action. There are no items on the agenda, and Hill said he planned to call the meeting to order and immediately ask the council to adjourn.