SAUK VILLAGE | Trustees are balking at Village President Lewis Towers' attempt to fill a vacancy on the board because he did not seek their approval, village officials said Friday.
Towers tried using a budget meeting Thursday to nominate and swear in former Village Trustee Francine Anderson to fill out the remaining three years on Robert Chavez's term. Chavez hadn't attended a meeting since July and this week announced his resignation.
Anderson had lost her seat to Chavez in the 2011 election. Towers used the meeting to introduce Anderson as his choice. He then had her come before the board, where he — and not Village Clerk Debbie Williams — administered an oath of office.
At no point did Towers ask the Village Board to confirm Anderson as his appointment, which is required by law, Williams said. That caused an outburst on the board that ultimately resulted in the adjournment of the budget meeting after about 15 minutes with no business being done, Williams said.
Williams said as of Friday no budget hearing had been rescheduled. She also confirmed that while she was not asked to administer an oath to Anderson, she would have refused.
"I will not give an oath to someone I don’t believe was legally chosen," Williams said.
For his part, Towers said he considers Anderson to be a member of the Village Board, and he said he thinks his actions were responsible.
"I was trying to fill a vacancy," he said. "I was willing to move forward with a budget meeting. It was Trustee (David) Hanks who started shouting and kept us from being able to do anything," Towers said.
Hanks has a significantly different perspective. Hanks said Friday he and other trustees consider Anderson's appointment to be illegitimate because it should not have been brought up at a budget meeting, and because trustees were not given a chance to confirm her.
Towers, "is the one who totally stopped this. It's his fault no moves were made toward a budget," Hanks said, adding of Towers, "He thinks he can do everything by himself. We don't have a dictatorship in Sauk Village."
Williams said she and the trustees are consulting with village attorneys to determine their options. Both Williams and Hanks said they will object to Anderson's participation in village business while Hanks said officials will continue to negotiate a budget, even if trustees ultimately approve one without Towers' cooperation.
Williams voiced concern that the partisan politicking over Anderson, Village Administrator Henrietta Turner and Police Chief Robert Fox will ultimately prevent municipal government from being able to operate. Turner and Fox are also Towers' appointees that trustees have tried to dismiss.
"Is this what it's going to be like for the next eight months (until the 2013 municipal elections)," she said. "We have serious business we need to do as a village, yet it's getting bogged down in all this politics."