Personnel policy change allows Landis town employees to run for office

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 9, 2019

LANDIS — After a closed session Monday night, the Landis Board of Aldermen approved a change to the personnel policy that would allow for town employees to run for the town board.

Previously, no person who was paid by the town was able to serve on the board. The new policy, which was passed 4-0, will exclude department heads, the town finance officer and the town manager, including those in an interim capacity.

Interim Finance Officer Roger Hosey reminded the board that the candidates must live in town they file in.

The resolution will allow town employees to file for the November election ahead of the July 19 deadline.

Interim Town Manager Kenny Isenhour said the previous policy would not allow a part-time firefighter to run for town office in Landis.

“It felt like that was an injustice,” Isenhour said. “It felt like Landis employees were second-class citizens.”

“I agree,” Alderman Bobby Brown added. “I’d hate to think we would treat our employees as second-class citizens.”

With the updated policy, an employee can’t be appointed by the board to fill a vacant seat but can be elected by the voters. The board member can’t become a department head during their term of office and must excuse themselves if the board considers anything that may benefit their financial interest or official conduct.

“Another way that I would encourage you to look at this,” Isenhour said. “Right now, a town employee can run for any state or federal office with the appropriate district or position. They can run for president of the United States, but cannot run for town board.”

Mayor Pro Tem Tommy Garver was absent from the meeting, but Hosey relayed that he was watching the meeting on live-stream and told Hosey he was against the change.

Five people have already filed to serve on the board as mayor or alderman after the filing period opened Friday. Two aldermen seats and the mayor’s will be on the November ballot. 

Mark Connell announced during the public-comment period that he is running for mayor. He said he wants the town to grow, using an example of an oak tree’s strength.

“Citizens and neighbors, I just want to remind you that it’s easier to dig up a seed than a tree, and with that being shared, I want to be a part of the strength and independence, part of that significance and that unity that is assembled by the oak branch on the dime. And that is why tonight I’m officially announcing my run for mayor in this year’s election,” Connell said.

In other business:

• The town staff addressed trash collection problems that residents have been reporting.

With the new fiscal year, aldermen decided to forgo recycling because of the increase in cost and the fact that contractor WastePro was taking recyclables to the landfill after finding too many trash items in the bins.

Alderman Seth Moore said he has received several messages about the trash can pick-up and removal of the recycling cans. Hosey said if anyone is missing a trash can or is having problems, they should contact Debbie Goodman, the deputy town clerk, who is compiling a list to send to WastePro.

“It got botched pretty bad,” Hosey said. “The only thing we can do is fix it.”

• Moore asked his fellow board members to consider changing the public-comment rules back to allowing residents to talk for five minutes and being able to sign up after board comments instead of being able to sign up only before the meeting starts.

The town implemented the new rules in February.

Other board members did not comment or discuss Moore’s request.

• The board approved road closures at the request of Landis Baptist Church for its vacation Bible school. The section of North Kimmons Street between West Ryder Avenue and East Garden Street will be closed from 5:30 to 9 p.m. July 8-12. The town will provide barricades.

• The board will continue its contract with N-Focus for the 2019-20 fiscal year. N-Focus assists municipalities on zoning, planning, mapping technology and code enforcement. The services is at an hourly rate of $135, which the town has budgeted for.