LESHARA – Two members of the Leshara Village Board of Trustees face a possible recall, and a petition to oust a third board member has also been put in motion.
On Sept. 18, Michael Pettinger of Leshara filed two recall petition forms in the Saunders County Clerk’s office. One is to recall Leshara Village Board Member Dale Johnson and the other targeted Board Member Dennis Beers.
Pettinger filed the petitions because “there’s been a lot of hanky panky out here,” he said in an interview Monday night.
In the petition against Johnson, the reason Pettinger stated on the form accuses Johnson of violating the Open Meetings Act and running the village “like a homeowners association.”
Pettinger said the village board members have passed ordinances without public knowledge.
“They kept us shut off from the public,” he said.
He also said the public should be able to speak during a meeting, even if they are not on the agenda. That is currently not allowed during Leshara village board meetings.
“We should be able to bring up anything we want to discuss,” said Pettinger.
Johnson said the allegations are “bogus.”
“I don’t even understand what he’s talking about,” said Johnson, who received notice of the recall petition on Saturday, which happened to be his 80th birthday.
Pettinger’s reason for recalling Beers centers on road maintenance in the village. He claims the village board voted to hired the precinct to grade the roads, but then had a private contractor, John Behler, do the work, which he said is “spending village money without the approval of the village board.”
Beers said the village board did vote to have the township take care of the roads, but also approved having Behler work on smaller projects because the township’s equipment is not always available.
Behler said he has been maintaining Leshara roads with his Chevy 2500 HD pickup and snowplow for the past five years with village board approval, until last spring. However, now it is alleged that he is using improper equipment.
“It’s the same equipment I’ve been using for five years,” he said.
If the recall is successful, the village will have to hold a special election to replace Beers and Johnson, which can cost thousands of dollars. Pettinger said electing new board members will help solve the community’s problems.
Johnson and Beers have until Oct. 10 to file a rebuttal to Pettinger’s claims. Both said they are working on their statement but had not yet brought it to the county clerk as of Monday night.
Beers has lived in Leshara for more than 20 years and has been on the village board for 16 years. He served as chairman for a decade.
“It’s pretty frustrating when you try to make things work out for the town and it’s tough to do,” said Beers.
Johnson was appointed to fill a vacancy on the village board, and then re-elected in 2016. He has lived in Leshara for since 2007.
“I think I’ve done a good job as a member of the board,” he said.
Behler filed a petition to recall a third member of the Leshara village board on Monday. Because this person has not yet been officially notified, the Wahoo Newspaper has chosen to not reveal the name until next week.