At yet another special meeting of the Holly village council Tuesday, interim Village Manager Jerry Walker was interviewed for the position of Village Manager. Afterwards, council decided to offer him the position with a near split-decision of 4-3.
Why did three of the seven-member council vote against offering Walker the job? We don’t know why. No public debate took place.
While dissenting council members Kenner, Winglemire, and Kleven did ask tough questions of Walker during the interview process, they remained silent during the subsequent deliberation of offering him the job.
How could these council members feel so strongly that Mr. Walker is not a good choice for the village that they would vote against him, yet not inform their fellow council members of the reasons for their trepidation? With a vote of 4-3, one could surmise that with a good argument they might have persuaded one of their colleagues to vote with them, and thus block Mr. Walker’s assent to the job. One would think that if they felt strongly enough to vote against him, they would feel strongly enough to prevent him from being hired. But they stopped short of accomplishing this. Why?
And why, if they have reservations about Mr. Walker, have they not shared these with the residents of Holly? If they know something, why not share with the class? Speak up.
Holding public office is not about making private decisions within one’s own head. It’s about sharing the process with the public, with the people who have entrusted their vote to those they have elected. Representative government requires debate. Open meetings are held to make that debate transparent and available to public scrutiny. Withholding opinions and withholding debate amounts to hiding something from the public, the very people elected representatives are meant to serve.
If Jerry Walker fails to serve the village of Holly admirably, who are we to blame for his assent to the job of Village Manager? Those who believed in him and voted for him, or those who had reason to doubt him but refused to explain why?
The silence of Kenner, Winglemire, and Kleven amounts to a public sin of omission, a failure to do something one can and ought to do. It leaves the Holly community with a sense of uncertainty and doubt about the present leadership, both on the council and in the Village offices.