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The following letter, addressed to a reporter of the Mountain Mail, was provided to Ark Valley Voice by Salida City Clerk Alisa Pappenfort:

Dear Sam Klomhaus,

Please stop characterizing “my” letter as supporting Jodi McClurkin in her EEOC filing. As I explained to you last week, I wrote the letter in an effort to capture Jodi’s story, acting as an advocate for her, not to tell my own. She was upset at the time, and I was unaware that she was in fact not performing her job duties. I gave what I had written to Jodi and asked her if I had captured her thoughts accurately. She then heavily edited it and, without my permission, included it in the packet of letters she distributed. It is essentially her letter. I am in that office very few hours per month and was not even qualified to comment on Mr. Nelson’s behavior in the office at that time. I do not approve of it being distributed to others who now only have one side of the story including unsubstantiated accusations.

Please stop furthering the idea that three women are accusing the administrator of hostile workplace behavior, it is not true. Drew has proven himself to be a professional who has built staff morale after a sustained vacuum of competence in leadership. Over time, I have found Mr. Nelson to be professional, responsive and kind. When I asked budget questions he promptly answered with details that satisfied me completely. When people told him of “my” letter, I went to see him. He is a good listener who took the staff safety concerns seriously. Casual observation saw staff focused on their jobs. There was a complete absence of drama.

It’s amazing to me what can and has happened with real leadership on board. Drew continued to be kind when I told him the letter was not intended to be weaponized against him or the city. I look forward to an ongoing positive working relationship with Mr. Nelson and hope the second trial is now ended.

I am proud of our Council and mayor who are handling a very difficult situation as best they can. I am proud of Mr. Nelson’s performance under extreme criticism. To the citizens of Salida concerned about staff safety, thank you for caring. Caring is the tool to fight against violence at all levels. We are safe and working well.

Civic engagement is best done on a range of issues rather than a single issue. Anger is very hard to hear. The message gets lost and more damage is done.

I try to reign myself in when I get too righteous in my thinking. I tire of people telling me how I think.

Recognizing our commonality and that our shared values far outweigh our differences is the key to acting civil and holding on to our power as citizens. I don’t blame anyone for the anger and misunderstandng that resulted from the inaccurate reporting on this issue in The Mountain Mail.

Alisa Pappenfort
Salida City Clerk