S’burg mayor says council absences justified
Two of the members of the Sharpsburg Town Council have missed a significant number of meetings in the past year and a half. Councilman Keith Rhodes missed nine meetings in 2011 and three meetings so far this year while Councilman Gordy Anderson missed four in 2011 and three this year through June. But Mayor Wendell Staley says there is more to the story.
Commenting on Rhodes’ 12 absences since January 2011, Staley said the former Delta and IBM employee is currently working as a communications contractor with the military in Afghanistan, adding that, despite the absences, Rhodes is a benefit to the town and the council.
“When you’ve got a good person and the selection is as low as it is in Sharpsburg you hang on to them,” said Staley. “I don’t want him to resign. He’s an asset to the community.”
Staley said Rhodes’ absences should soon be a thing of the past since he will be back on furlough in the near future and his contract ends toward the end of the year. Even with the absences, Staley said the town keeps in touch with him on issues such as technology.
Noting the circumstances of Anderson’s seven absences, Staley said he had needed to spend time in California helping with his ailing father. His father passed away and Anderson has returned and is fulfilling his responsibilities, Staley added.
“I would have faulted him if he hadn’t been there to help his father,” said Staley.
There is another perspective to the absences that bears noting, Staley said.
“If they had been in town and were not attending they’d be replaced,” Staley said.
So what has the situation been like in Sharpsburg with the absences?
“We are conducting the business of the town and the management of the town has not suffered,” he said. “It might be different if I was like an absentee mayor or one that only occasionally comes to town hall like in the case of some towns. But I’m here every day and the town has not suffered.”
Staley maintained that there is yet another side to the issues that arise from absences. It is one that larger municipalities seldom face.
“I wish we had a bunch of enthusiastic citizens lined up to do the job. But that’s not the case,” Staley noted of the town with a population of less than 350 people.
Beyond that, Staley said funding a special election carries a significant degree of financial burden on the town. A special election would cost the town approximately $10,000-11,000, he said.