Cynthia Hedge-Morrell releases statement regarding City Council absence

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Cynthia Hedge-Morrell
  • Cynthia Hedge-Morrell
City Councilmembers Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Jon Johnson have been mostly mum about their extended absence from council meetings since early May — with the exception of a Sunday morning interview they gave on WYLD-FM's "Sunday Morning" radio show. Today Hedge-Morrell issued a statement to "clear the air":

There has been rampant speculation in regards to my decision to leave the early May council meeting as well as my decision to not return to subsequent council meetings.

I appreciate this opportunity to clear the air regarding these circumstances and my decisions.

I left the early May council meeting because I was extremely frustrated by the politicizing of the Council At Large legislation, which is focused on ensuring that our at-large elected representatives receive a majority vote of the people.

Two specific tactics that I found to be unnecessary and, arguably obstructionist, were the requirements that the legislation repeatedly be sent to Committees, even when the matter had previously been discussed in the same committees in the past, and the sudden prerequisite that the matter be discussed in public meetings beyond the public Council meetings. Although I believed a vote by the duly-elected representatives of the people, the council, would have sufficiently protected the interests of the voters, I was happy to have the matter decided directly by popular vote in the fall. By comparison, two other critical issues, creating an OIG and the NORDC charter amendments were sent to public meetings after the Council placed those matters on the ballot. When it was clear that day that even a vote to send the matter to the public would be denied by special interests, I became frustrated with these tactics and decided to leave the council meeting.

The next issue I would like to address is why I have stayed away. This completely separate issue deals with an ongoing and implicit disregard for debate and discussion that has left me feeling as though I've been marginalized.

First, it is important that no one Councilmember control two votes. That is why it is vital that each member be involved in choosing the interim appointment. Furthermore, I have misgivings about the lack of consistency of procedure used to fill council vacancies. When Councilman Fielkow resigned, the Council instituted a transparent and open process to solicit qualified individuals to fill the interim seat. The public supported this process and a candidate, Mr. Granderson, was selected unanimously.

However, when Ms. Head assumed the At-Large position, the council followed a different procedure and allowed Ms. Head to pick her own replacement without discussion. It is a highly unusual situation for a Councilmember to unilaterally choose their replacement. I was not consulted regarding Ms. Head's choice, and I felt as though a majority of the council had intentionally made a decision without consultation. This lack of coordination devalued my efforts to properly represent my constituents, especially on an issue as impactful as the selection of a new councilmember.

In conclusion, I wish the council could have come to an agreement on these issues so that we could continue to conduct the business of the City. Especially in regards to this unique situation regarding a Councilmember selecting her own replacement, I believe transparency should be held in the forefront. All viewpoints on these critical matters must be given fair hearing without tactics that demean the decorum of the council or disrespect the collegiality that we all strive to achieve as fellow councilmembers.

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