By BRADEN LAMMERS
A mayoral candidate in Jeffersonville was chosen as president of the city council on Monday. Whether that might cause any conflict with the current mayor remains to be seen.
Dennis Julius will lead the council, replacing Connie Sellers, whose term as president had expired. Lisa Gill was chosen as the council’s vice president. Julius was the vice president in 2013.
Julius has also already thrown his hat into the ring for the 2015 mayoral election, and would oppose Mike Moore in a reelection campaign should he choose to run. Moore has yet to announce whether or not he will run for a second term.
Despite disagreements between the council and the mayor’s administration, the council does not believe it will create any issues with Julius’ appointment to president.
Ed Zastawny, who seconded the motion to make Julius the new president, said he did so because he felt it was good to offer bipartisanship to the council and promotes cooperation among the members to have a minority party member in a leadership position.
Zastawny is a Republican and Julius is a Democrat.
“I thought it did well for cohesiveness and for the council to work together,” Zastawny said of having the minority party in a leadership position. “There’s been contention with every president, with myself and Connie [Sellers] who are Republicans,” Zastawny added of Moore’s administration. “I don’t think it’s going to make much of a difference.”
Julius agreed and said that he hopes to keep lines of communication open with the mayor’s office.
When asked if he believed his appointment as president would create any issues in working with the mayor’s office, Julius said, “not on my part.”
Moore too, said it would not be an issue for him.
“I look forward to working with him,” he said of Julius. “I think the relationship with the city council has improved greatly over the past few months.”
PENS AND POLITICS
The Jeffersonville City Council balked at the mayor’s purchase of 32 pens.
The pens were bought out of Mayor Moore’s promotional fund, but were questioned by the council in how the purchase would go toward benefiting the city.
An ordinance was passed at a Nov. 18 council meeting that redefined how the city’s promotional funds can be spent. Several council members questioned purchases made by Moore out of the promotional fund for things like expenses for youth sports teams. An ordinance was drafted, and passed, then the ordinance was signed by Moore on Dec. 13, according to the city’s public document database.
Among the allowances for payments out of promotional funds included membership dues, expenses incurred during the promotion of economic development of the city including meeting room rental, decorations or promotional material, and floral memorials and commemorative objects.
The ordinance specifically delineates the fund should not be used “for the sole benefit of city employees or city officials” and that those promotional materials should not refer to any specific individual office holder or city department.
City Councilman Mike Smith questioned the purchase and asked that the claim be pulled.
However, Corporation Attorney Les Merkley said he believes the purchase of the pens does meet the ordinance passed by the council. He added, regardless, the pens were ordered before the ordinance went into effect on Dec. 13
The 32 pen sets — pens with the City of Jeffersonville printed on the side and enclosed in a wooden box — were purchased for $24.95 each by the mayor out of the promotional fund. The total cost for the pens was just shy of $800.
Several council members disagreed that the pens were an appropriate use of the mayor’s promotional fund.
“I just don’t think Les, that you’re promoting the city when you’re giving it to department heads, I just don’t,” said Julius. “I don’t mind speaking up saying I have a problem with it.”
City Council Attorney Scott Lewis said it is dependent to whom the pens are given.
“I think if these were given to other people from the community to promote the city, I think that’s consistent with the ordinance,” Lewis said. “I think the problem is it was given to internal employees.”
Merkley said 15 or 16 of the pen sets have been given out to city department heads, but the pens were just received and the remainder had not been handed out yet.
He added the intent was to give the pens to department heads and to others in the community as a momento of recognition.
The council unanimously — by a vote of 5-0 with council members Lisa Gill, Bryan Glover, Matt Owen and Zach Payne absent from the meeting— chose to pull the claim for further investigation.