Councilwoman urges action on appointment complaint

Henderson City Councilwoman Kathleen Boutin is calling on city officials to publicly address lingering questions about the appointment of Debra March to the council six months ago.

Boutin said that in the interest of "open and transparent government," she wants attorneys for the city and the state to answer a complaint lodged by Kevinn Donovan, one of 14 candidates for the seat that went to March.

"Whether we’re right or wrong, we really need to address this and bring it to some resolution," Boutin said.

Donovan contends the city failed to complete March’s appointment within the 30-day period required by the city charter. He wants her removed from office and a special election held to fill the Ward 2 seat left vacant when longtime Councilman Andy Hafen was elected mayor.

"In my opinion, you have a council member who is sitting there in violation of city law," he said.

He said the city could be forced to repeat any votes decided by March or cast during meetings that could not have been held without March there to constitute a quorum.

"This is a serious issue, and I’ve been trying to bring it to the city’s attention for almost three months now," he said. "Their lack of responsiveness is unacceptable.

"I think it’s kind of ludicrous that it takes a private citizen to enforce the city charter," Donovan said.

Boutin said she has "the highest personal regard for Debra March," but the issue is too important to ignore, especially if a chance exists the council’s actions over the past six months could be nullified.

City Attorney Elizabeth Quillin declined to speculate on the likelihood of that scenario.

She said her staff is reviewing the matter and should have a report ready within the next month.

"Given that Mr. Donovan has raised this question, we want to research it and be thorough," Quillin said. "We’re taking it very seriously, of course, and we’re not going to issue an opinion until we’ve done the research."

Messages left for March were not returned Monday. In her six months on the council, she has participated in about a dozen meetings and cast hundreds of votes.

March’s July 8 appointment triggered an open meeting law complaint from the Review-Journal over the City Council’s use of secret ballots to narrow the field of candidates.

In response to the newspaper’s complaint, council members met again on July 21 to disclose the results of their balloting and reaffirm March’s appointment.

That’s when the city charter was violated, Donovan said, because the "do-over" fell outside the 30-day requirement.

"The only resolution there is on the books is to hold an election," he said.

Asked whether he would run in such an election, Donovan said, "Absolutely."

Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350.

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