Councilwoman Janell Smith received a rebuke from her colleagues for calling the employer of a citizen who supports removing her from office in the November election.
All council members, except Smith who voted no and Councilman Glenn Otto who abstained, voted Monday night to censure Smith.
The censure, proposed by Councilman Mark Campbell, is largely symbolic. The move essentially demonstrates that council, as a body, disapproves of Smith’s behavior.
Smith admitted to twice calling resident Walter Sturgeon’s employer and said she “would do it again in a heartbeat.” She accused Sturgeon, a member of the political action committee advocating for her removal, of harassing her.
“It’s very appalling,” Smith said of the vote. “I did not call on behalf of the city. I called on behalf of myself. I called on behalf of my own dignity … I’m an elected official, but I’m also a human being.”
Sturgeon thanked council for investigating his complaint against Smith.
“I think it’s absurd what someone did,” he said, referring to Smith. “She also had an outlet. It’s called the police department. If she truly felt she was being harassed or stalked as she stated, she could have called the police.”
Smith said she feels she cannot trust the city’s legal and police departments.
Mayor Jeff Gore investigated Sturgeon’s complaint about Smith’s calls. He said Smith referred questions to an attorney. Gerald McDonald, the city’s law director, said Smith’s attorney did not respond to the questions.
“I find it very unfortunate Mrs. Smith has decided not to respond to or answer the questions and put an end to this herself,” Gore said. “I’m also appalled by the alleged conduct and behavior of Mrs. Smith, and I do not condone it.”
Gore said he did not accuse Smith of breaking the law. Rather, he said he was “appalled” she called Sturgeon’s employer to complain.
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