Council Member Removal Ordinances Pass First Reading
Casper City Council on Tuesday gave first-reading approval to a pair of ordinances that would make it easier to remove elected council members found guilty of committing ethics violations.
Council approved both ordinances 6-3 after about 40 minutes of discussion. The dissenting votes were cast by Ward I’s Keith Goodenough and Daniel Sandoval and Ward II’s Craig Hedquist.
“This is a terrible idea, and I will vote against it,” Goodenough said before the vote.
Both ordinances work in tandem. The first ordinance gives council the ability to remove other elected council members found in violation the ethics code, while the second ordinance outlines the newly-created formal hearing process, where the case would be presented in front of a council-appointed hearing officer.
After the hearing, council would be given the option to vote for removal.
Casper mayor Paul Meyer voted in favor of the amended code.
“Our employees are held to a standard, the citizens are held to a legal standard – how can you be elected to city council and do whatever you want? That just does not make sense,” Meyer said.
The proposed code changes come after Craig Hedquist was accused of ethics and conduct violations last year. In May, he was formally asked to resign by fellow council members after an informal public hearing not attended by Hedquist.
Ultimately, Hedquist refused to step down – he also voiced specific concern about the revisions during a work session in July.
The codes must pass two more readings before adoption.