SUGAR CITY – Three Sugar City Council members resigned prior to the city’s Thursday council meeting.
Vaun Waddell, Joy Ball and Bruce King all submitted letters of resignation on Thursday. Waddell cited health reasons while Ball believed that there had been some antagonism and opposition directed toward her as she worked to serve as a “watchman” for the city. King resigned over the numerous conflicts and citied “irreconcilable differences” with the city over its comprehensive plan and code.
While Waddell’s resignation was expected, Ball and King’s resignations came out of the blue and became the latest plot twist the city has endured for the past three years following one controversy after another concerning Old Farm Estates’ Division rezoning to multi-use.
Fears that Division Three would cause the city to lose its small town feel and turn it into another Rexburg, caused divisiveness and back and forth lawsuits including a $9 million tort claim filed by Old Farm Estates developers Ryan and Jeff the Lerwill, against the city. The city settled the lawsuit last month during a six-hour meeting that stretched into the early morning hours.
The three council persons resigning quickly ended Thursday's meeting.
Now, Mayor David Ogden will need to appoint three new members to the council. Whoever he appoints will have to run again for their respective seats in November. Whoever wins that election will serve out the remaining two years left by each of the three resigning council members’ council terms.
Ogden and remaining city council member Brent Barrus are also up for election in November, but neither has decided whether they will run again.
The council meets again in two weeks, and by then it’s expected that Ogden will have decided on three new council members.
In the meantime, Ogden plans to investigate the complaints that Ball made.
“There were some allegations made, and I will review those very closely. She had 10 points and Bruce had some. I will go through and look at them and see if they have any merit,” he said. “Their reasons for resigning are their own. They declared their reasons, and that’s fine.”
Ogden said it would be up to the remaining council member, or in other words, Brent Barrus, to agree to whoever Ogden appoints.
Ogden noted that the council members had been “put through the wringer.” Ogden and Barrus also suffered after being the subjects of a recall election. Sugar City residents overwhelming helped the two men remain in office during a special election last month.
“I never dreamed I’d have to go through this kind of stuff,” Barrus said.
Barrus and Ogden remaining in office proved to be one of Ball’s reasons for resigning.
“Because I feel that I have been ineffective in successfully being a ‘watchman’ and cannot fulfill that role with the present mayor and city council member who oppose my stance on issues, I hereby immediately resign my office as City Councilwoman for the City of Sugar City,” she said.
Those attending Thursday’s meeting were stunned by the sudden abdication of the three council members. Ogden expressed sadness at the council members resigning.
“It’s unfortunate. It really is,” he said. “I feel bad about it.”
The city council will meet at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 25, at city hall. For more information on the upcoming meeting call the city at 208-356-7561.