The Marshfield Common Council in a 5-4 vote confirmed the appointment of Gordon Earll to the Police and Fire Commission.
Several aldermen expressed concern over the nomination, which will replace Nate Mueller’s expiring term on the commission.
“This is an interesting topic of discussion, specifically this appointment, this commission,” said Alderman Tom Witzel. “I have actually received more citizen inquiries regarding this than nearly anything else except perhaps of the pool.”
Witzel added that while he respects Earll’s service to the City of Marshfield, he was concerned by comments Earll made on April 9 to Council.
“No doubt he has served the city honorably and for quite a long time,” said Witzel. “On April 9, Mr. Earll stood at that podium being congratulated for his time here and made the comment that he did not seek reelection for a two-year term on the council due to health issues. We are now being asked to place Mr. Earll into a five-year term without ever considering these health issues that he cited for not having run for reelection.”
Witzel also expressed concern about not reappointing Mueller, as it is customary to allow a current member to continue serving if they are interested in doing so – especially given the complex nature of the committee’s responsibilities.
“We found out that Mr. Mueller – who has served for over 10 years on this commission – had expressed interest in continuing to serve in his capacity. As per the Mayor’s comments, Mr. Mueller has provided great service for a very long time to this city,” said Witzel. “At the same time, the Mayor commented that he was only being removed to give someone else ‘an opportunity to serve’. I believe Mr. Mayor that you spoke and told us that Mr. Mueller was free to serve on any other committee board and commission if he would so choose.”
Witzel said that by not allowing Mueller to serve another term, the Council was sending the wrong message to citizens willing to serve.
“The concern I have here is that by not allowing Mr. Mueller to serve another term -especially on a commission as complex as the Fire and Police Commission, which has very little oversight by the Council through legislation – this is an unprecedented decision,” said Witzel. “This is also sending a negative message to any other people who wish to serve on commissions boards and committees. That message is that if you work hard, serve in a specific area with passion, do nothing wrong – you still may be replaced to ‘give another person an opportunity to serve'”.
Witzel strongly recommended to Mayor Bob McManus that he reconsider his earlier decision and appoint Mueller to the commission for another term.
“This will not only validate the hard work he completed on this commission, and in the city as a whole, but it will also put others at ease that as they look to serve in these capacities,” he said. “They can roll up their sleeves, dig into a committee, serve with passion for this city, and not worry about getting replaced to give another person a chance.”
“There was a discussion with Mr. Earll about the comments he had made, but I do appreciate your comments,” said McManus.
“It would be good to know about those kinds of things. I have not heard from you [Mayor] or Mr. Earll on those comments,” said Alderman Jason Zaleski. “Mr. Witzel talked about precedent, and precedent is important. Often times, in situations like these candidates for open positions will submit a resume or a letter of intent or explanation, and we have not received any communication, and communication is key.”
“Everybody is entitled to their opinions I think it is a very slippery slope,” said Mayor McManus. “When we say that citizens that want to volunteer can’t because of their health, I think that is very interesting and rather insulting to the candidates and I think there has been enough of that done in this whole thing.”
Voting “yes” were Alderpersons Feirer, Poeschel, Bargender, MacSwain, and Buttke. Voting “no” were Alderpersons Jockheck, Witzel, Zaleski, and Hendler. Alderperson Rebecca Spiros was absent.