Kansas mayor faces recall vote in council dispute
Denison A small-town Kansas mayor faces an August recall vote after critics say she violated the state’s open meetings law and doesn’t get along well with most City Council members.
Denison Mayor Audrey Oliverius said the local discord is because the northeast Kansas community of roughly 190 residents simply doesn’t like change.
City Council members “have a single-focus vision — getting rid of me,” Oliverius told The Topeka Capital-Journal.
A recall petition presented to the Jackson County clerk earlier this month needed only 12 signatures from registered Denison voters to force a recall election but ended up with 29.
The petition states Oliverius called an executive session at the end of a regular City Council meeting March 10 — dismissing the public and city clerk — during which the council voted to appoint someone to fill a vacant seat.
Nearly four weeks later, Oliverius sent the city clerk an email telling her what to add to the March 10 minutes for the executive session, the petition says.
“I think it’s mostly on her,” said Bob Layton, who served as Denison mayor in 1987. “She has been abusive to city council members and toward the public. She is very controlling.”
Layton said he told Oliverius and the city council at an April meeting that taking a vote during executive session violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act. He also said the person they appointed to fill the vacancy on the council couldn’t serve because he wasn’t a registered voter.
The city’s office was closed about a month ago because the city clerk, city treasurer and utility supervisor resigned, Oliverius said.
She said she hasn’t made a decision on whether she will step down, adding that things aren’t going to get any better if she leaves.
“The community is suffering. This isn’t about me,” she said.
But Vickie Wold, one of two people considered for the vacant council seat, said if the mayor doesn’t step down the community will push her out.
“We will campaign,” Wold said. “She did break the law. We will have an election in August, and the people will speak.”