Draper, Bigler resignations do not leave Mt. Pleasant better off

Even though the Sanpete Messenger has a reporter at nearly all Mt. Pleasant City Council meetings, we’re not quite sure what’s going on in the city.

That’s a big part of the problem. Too many things are going on, such as a department being created and, apparently a department director hired, without open public discussion.

Those kinds of actions, apparently at the behest of some members of the city council, have now led to the resignations of Mayor Sandra Bigler and Sam Draper, long-time public works director.

Our strong impression, based on years of interaction, is that Mt. Pleasant will not be better off without Bigler and Draper.

Bigler was on the city council from the 1990s until 2009, when she was appointed as mayor after Chesley Christensen died. She filled out Christensen’s term, and then was elected to a term as mayor.

When David Blackham resigned last year, after apparently also having problems with some of the city council members, Bigler was appointed to fill out his term, and then ran and was elected mayor a second time.

During her service, she has shown herself to be an excellent people person. She has had good relations with city employees.

But she has also proven to be a tight-fisted financial manager. During her first elected term, when the city started showing deficits, she cut the staff, cut expenses somehow, and led the city out of the mess.

Draper has many years of experience and knowledge of public works functions that Mt. Pleasant can ill afford to lose. He has also acted as volunteer fire chief.

The root problem appears to be ambiguity, if not open disagreement, about who is supposed to run the city.

In any operation the size of Mt. Pleasant, with dozens of employees, someone has to be in charge. In 11 of the 13 municipalities in Sanpete County, as will as in cities the size of Mt. Pleasant around the state, the mayor is the CEO.

Two local cities, Manti and Ephraim, have paid city managers. If the city council thinks Mt. Pleasant needs to move to a full-time city manager, that idea needs to be fully aired. The present mayor and citizens should have plenty of input. The job must be widely advertised.

In fact, Mt. Pleasant and other cities should have ordinances on their books defining the roles of the mayor, city council and city manager, if there is one.

Again, we don’t know precisely what’s going on. We expect to investigate further to try to find out. But it appears to us that Bigler has tried, as she should have, to act as the CEO in Mt. Pleasant.

But the city council, or some on the council, have gone beyond policy making and legislating, and stuck their noses into day-to-day management. That’s a place those noses don’t belong.

In some cities, elected officials make a point of working together harmoniously and that tradition continues for years. Other cities are continually plagued by conflict and back-biting. Mt. Pleasant is starting to look like the latter. And that’s sad.