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Dan Anderson, Mt. Pleasant’s new interim mayor, presides over his first council meeting after he was appointed by the city council on Tuesday.

Dan Anderson is named Mt. Pleasant interim mayor

Former mayors, employees file suit against city and city council

 

By James Tilson

Staff writer

10-11-2018

 

MT. PLEASANT—The Mt. Pleasant City Council last Tuesday picked one of its members as interim mayor to serve out the remainder of the last mayor’s term.

At virtually the same time the council was announcing its selection, for two former mayors and two former employees were filing suit against the city alleging the council had illegally usurped executive powers from the mayors and created a hostile workplace for city employees.

Dan Anderson, who had been mayor pro tempore since Sandra Bigler resigned Aug. 28, received a unanimous vote from the remaining council members. The council cited his willingness to work long hours in city hall, and his long service to the city as a council member and power superintendent, as reasons for their vote.

While the council was choosing an interim mayor for the remainder of Bigler’s term, which runs until January 2020, Bigler and former Mayor David Blackham, former Public Works Director Sam Draper and former Recorder Jane Banks were filing suit against the City of Mt. Pleasant and, specifically, the council members.

The 37-page complaint, filed by attorney Steven Tycksen from Draper, alleges in part that the city council, and in particular Councilmen Kevin Stallings and Justin Atkinson, pressured both Blackham and Bigler to resign from their positions.

According to the complaint, Stallings and Atkinson insisted on Blackham delegating responsibilities to them for day-to-day management of the city.

After Blackham’s resignation, Stallings and Atkinson applied the same pressure to Bigler, resulting in her resignation also, the complaint alleges.

According to the complaint, Draper and Banks both were subjected to a hostile workplace environment by Stallings’ and Atkinson’s interference in the administrative management of the city.

Two other men applied for the interim mayor position. Russell Keisel, a 40-year resident of Mt. Pleasant and veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm, said he was aware of the conflicts surrounding the city government but he “would rather join in to fix the problem than form an opinion.”

Matt Anderson, a life-long resident of the city, said that he knew he wouldn’t be able to fix the conflicts alone. However, when he heard about the opening, he felt a “calling” to apply.

Matt Anderson asked if he would be the mayor, or a sixth council member, if he were selected. Councilwoman Heidi Kelso answered that the council needed someone to manage the city.

Kelso explained that the city had a six-member council, with the mayor as one of the members, although the mayor didn’t vote. “The executive and legislative is blended” in the mayor’s position, she said.

With the appointment of Dan Anderson, there is now an open council seat. By law, the seat must be filled in the same way the interim mayor position had been filled. The position will first be advertised for three weeks in the public notice section of a local newspaper.

Anderson and the other council members encouraged the mayoral applicants who weren’t chosen to apply for the empty council seat.