Salida City Clerk Alisa Pappenfort was selected to fill the city treasurer vacancy by the Salida City Council members during their Feb. 5 council session. By statute, one person can legally fill both roles. Voting for Pappenfort was unanimous, with Council Member Mike Bowers absent that evening. Council Member Harald Kasper expressed gratitude to Pappenfort for her willingness to take on the additional role.
Comments during the public comment section leaned heavily toward requests for the city council to remove City Administrator Drew Nelson from his position. Nelson, who came from a position as Winter Park Town administrator, is in his six months probationary period with the City of Salida following his hiring.
Comments began with Anne Graf and went on to include Megan Kahn, Megan Lombardo, Andrea Schulz-Ward, Aaron Mendelkorn, Marcie Post, Hannah Guilford and Leah Underwood, among others.
“Should someone who fires eight rounds in a residential area oversee the police department,” asked Graf? “If no, you know how to deal with anger appropriately. That explains why you’re OK with Drew. In April how will you determine if he stays? Is it your opinion or guidelines?”
The emotional comments included those by Megan Lombardo whose racially-charged references to privileged white men, went on to claim that a black man would never have been hired for such a position with the incident of firing a gun into the air in his backyard on his record.
Andrea Schulz-Ward asked, “I want to know if the two EEOC claims filed with the City of Salida constitute grounds for termination.”
This appears to be an inaccurate statement. Former city Finance Director Jodi McClurkin, who was terminated by the city, said she was going to file a single Equal Employment Opportunity claim. Her communications inaccurately claimed that other city employees were included in her filing, but Deputy City Clerk Lynda Travis and Pappenfort refuted that claim, saying they had not filed anything. At the time of the December article by Ark Valley Voice, McClurkin had not filed an EEOC with the state (https://arkvalleyvoice.com/former-salida-finance-directors-complaint-spreads-across-town/ ). McClurkin has 300 days from termination in which to file.
Comments by Sheree Beddingfield, who is part of a local group called the Salida Civility Project, focused on ways to support better civic conversations, moderating the way people talk and treat each other. Contrary to reports in The Mountain Mail, she did not urge removal of Nelson, nor say that she supported previous citizen remarks.
In a quiet voice, she reiterated 11 guidelines for conversing with fellow citizens and government officials, designed to reduce conflict and arrive at a resolution. Those steps include: “Build connection and understanding. Listen. Understand that my fears and hopes and thoughts are no more important than yours are. If we listen we have more in common than we realize … acknowledge that you hear me, and I understand that you might also disagree with me. I will speak my viewpoints honestly, respectfully, avoiding rumor. Because you are a valued person, I will listen with the attention and respect I request of you.”
She went on to other guidelines, including: “When there are times I know my view is right, and we can’t agree… I will speak in a way that my viewpoint can be seen or heard … Believe in our ability to find common ground.” She ended with, “Realize that there may be even better solutions and outcomes that either of us have thought of.”