Vote Gives Wellington Council More Control Over Appointees

Members of the Wellington Village Council soon could have the power to add and remove volunteer board and committee members at will. Council members gave preliminary approval Tuesday to an ordinance that would allow them to remove their own appointees “without cause.”

In a 4-1 vote, council members largely agreed that if their appointees are meant to represent their views, they should have the ability to remove them without consent of a council majority.

Currently, council members must vote publicly to remove someone appointed to one of Wellington’s volunteer boards or committees.

“I personally believe that the individuals we appoint to these committees are representative of that particular council member,” Councilman Howard Coates said. “If I think my appointee is not reflecting my values and opinions… I want the ability to remove that person.”

Councilwoman Anne Gerwig, the lone dissenter, said she thought it would make the process more political.

“I feel like it’s adding a political tint to the function of boards and committees,” she said. “I want people to serve on my committee because I know them and they agree with me on some things. I want their real opinions. I have never called my appointment to tell them [how to vote]. This ordinance leads to that kind of behavior.”

The issue arose after a March 5 meeting of the Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board, when then-Board Member Marcia Radosevich gave a Nazi-style salute to a staff member. Despite public outcry for her to be removed, the only way to do so was by a majority council vote.

Radosevich ultimately resigned and apologized for her behavior, but the incident left council members looking for more control.

“This was brought forward at the request of the council,” Village Attorney Laurie Cohen said. “There were a few instances where it was unclear whether a council member could remove appointed board and committee members.”

Councilman Matt Willhite, who appointed Radosevich, noted that there was a public outcry for him to remove her.

“I didn’t have the ability to remove [her],” he said. “I continued to take political heat and pressure.”

Although the initial ordinance called for an appeals process if the appointee disagreed with the removal, Willhite said he believed it should be solely at the council member’s discretion that the appointee serves.

“I don’t think there needs to be an appeal process,” he said. “I think we should be able to remove them.”

But Gerwig said the removal of a board member should require public discussion.

“I can see how it would be convenient,” she said. “When I don’t want someone to serve on that committee anymore, I could just remove them. But I think that’s something we should have a public discussion about. I think the appeals process is appropriate.”

Coates disagreed. “We’re the elected ones, and we’re the ones who take the heat,” he said.

During public comment, resident Bruce Tumin said the change could be used for political persuasion.

“If a council member may remove an appointee without cause, why have a committee?” he asked. “Would a council member threaten removal for a vote? Regardless of a committee’s recommendation, it is the council that has the final say. Why would anyone volunteer?”

Willhite said he believes that abuse of the rule would be unlikely, but if a council member is continuously kicking people off boards, people will stop applying.

“If a council member is just kicking people off, people will stop applying to represent them,” he said. “They will show themselves and won’t have anyone to speak for them.”

Another issue raised by council members is the ability to remove board members for absences. Currently, a board member can be removed after two consecutive unexcused absences or four consecutive absences out of six meetings.

Rather than have it be a council vote, Willhite suggested automatic removal of absent board members.

“If someone has missed six out of seven meetings, our rules say a council member doesn’t have to remove them,” he said. “I think an absence is an absence, excused or not. I understand this is a volunteer position, but I think there needs to be a [rule] that says if they miss four out of six meetings, they should be automatically removed.”

Though Gerwig said she believed absences could be grounds for removal, she wanted the council to have a say.

“I think the liaison for that board should bring the issue to the council,” she said. “I could support the idea that if a board member misses three consecutive meetings, this would come before us. Then we’d have the information to make a decision.”

But Willhite said there have been issues already, pointing out that Gerwig’s appointee to the Equestrian Preserve Committee — Carlos Arellano — had missed 11 of 22 meetings.

“Attendance is important to me,” he said. “You have to be there to have meaningful input. I could tolerate it a bit more if it were the Tree Board or something else, but that’s a very important board. If you miss a certain amount of meetings and are unable to put the commitment into it, I think you should be removed.”

Gerwig said she appointed Arellano at the request of staff because he represents the polo community. “He is a seasonal resident, that’s true,” she said. “But he’s the only person who is representative of polo.”

If her appointee is absent, it is only her view that is not being represented, Gerwig said. “I don’t know why, Councilman Willhite, you would be concerned with whether my viewpoint is represented,” she said.

Mayor Bob Margolis, who once sat on the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, said attendance is very important, especially because some boards and committees may not meet very often.

“Some boards meet quarterly,” he said. “If you miss two out of four meetings, some things may have transpired that were very important. I’m in favor of an absentee rule. It’s not fair to the council or residents to have repeated absences.”

Coates made a motion to approve the ordinance as written, but requested that second reading include a provision for automatic removal for absences. Willhite seconded the motion, which passed 4-1 with Gerwig opposed.

The ordinance will return for final council approval, and members are expected to discuss what merits an “excused absence.”


  1. Big People – Gerwig and Coates-each nominated the other’s political opponent to boards in Wellington.

    Little Person – Willhite for his continual upheaval and wanting things his way-no ability to compromise

  2. And when the Education Committee ladies spoke in front of the Council, they bashed the previous council and praised Tony and Tom. That’s political!

    Politics is dividing this Village and it starts with the politics of some Council members. They promote THEIR political party and bash others who do not have the same philosophy as their’s.

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