And she was…

Lake appointed mayor of Keystone Heights

Kile Brewer
Posted 12/6/17

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – After four months of searching, the Keystone Heights City Council voted unanimously to elect Karen Lake as its Mayor.

The Dec. 4 action came after former mayor Tony Brown …

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And she was…

Lake appointed mayor of Keystone Heights

Karen Lake
Karen Lake

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – After four months of searching, the Keystone Heights City Council voted unanimously to elect Karen Lake as its Mayor.

The Dec. 4 action came after former mayor Tony Brown stepped down in August, leading the city to open up the application process three times to find his replacement who would serve on a temporary basis until the Super Tuesday election in April when a permanent mayor will be elected.

Lake was one of two original applicants whose application was passed over before the council opted to reopen the application process. After the two original application periods came to a close, the city received a third application from Planning and Zoning board member Bill Dixon, who resigned from his position on that board to throw his name into consideration.

When the council met in November, they opted to again open up the position to applications, and validated Dixon’s application at the same time, which was turned in late. The month-long application period saw no additional residents apply to lead the city up to April. Dixon was present at Monday night’s meeting to present his case for being chosen as mayor, and answered a set of questions the council used to screen Lake and Catherine Southard in October.

However, before the meeting began, Lake walked into the council chambers and presented a blue card to acting mayor Steve Hart. Once the meeting got underway, Hart invited Lake to the podium during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Lake said that by throwing out her application without giving it any consideration to begin with, and then asking her to reapply was redundant. She said the move also penalized her and Southard who had originally filed applications once the position was announced.

“If it had indeed been this council’s objective to have a larger pool of applicants, the right thing to have done was to roll over the two timely-filed applications into round two, and, ultimately, this third round,” Lake read from a prepared statement. “Why were [our applications] removed? We didn’t request for them to be removed.”

Lake said she had been hearing accusations throughout the city of sexism through the selection process, being that the two original applicants were both women.

“Immediately rejecting two female applicants, but accepting a late-filed male applicant speaks to me on gender discrimination,” Lake said. “Whether it was intentional or not, this council is responsible for that message.”

She went on to speak on a recent report from a local news channel that the city had thrown out two “unqualified” candidates. Lake felt that this misrepresented those candidates, and read the qualifications for mayoral candidacy, with all of which she is compliant, in the city into the record.

The agenda continued, and eventually the city reached the item that dealt with the mayor.

“If the council has no objection, if you want to go through the process again tonight, I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t do that for you,” Hart said.

After hearing Dixon’s presentation and interview, the council voted 4-0 to allow Lake to be, again, considered as a valid candidate for mayor before a brief discussion of the pros and cons of the candidates.

Hart asked for a motion to vote for Dixon as the new mayor. The vote hung at 2-2, and Dixon was not appointed to the position.

Next, Hart asked for a motion to accept Lake as mayor, Lewandowski made the motion with Hart and Marion Kelly voting yes immediately, Dan Lewandowski and Steve Brown, the two yes votes for Dixon, eventually spoke up and made the vote 4-0.

At the Oct. 2 council meeting, Lewandowski launched a lengthy discussion in which he asked for more time to get more applicants, effectively throwing out the August process and Lake’s and Southard’s who applied.

“I’ll tell you right now, I’m going to vote no on both candidates,” Lewandowski said Oct. 2, referring to Lake and Southard, the only two residents to apply to fill Brown’s seat.

Mayor Karen Lake was sworn in immediately and asked Steve Hart to serve as her Vice Mayor before closing the meeting. Lake went on to lead the meeting until adjournment.


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