Ellisville drops proposed amendment to change recall process
By: Sarah Wilson
After Councilmember Troy Pieper (District 2) made a motion to drop the Ellisville City Council’s proposed amendment to change the city’s recall process at a special meeting on Aug. 16, the Council unanimously agreed.
“I really feel that this is not the right time for this Charter amendment,” Pieper said. “There’s a lot going on in Ellisville, and to be honest, we don’t really need it right now.”
The proposed ordinance amendment came up after the Article 9 Alliance, a group of Ellisville citizens against the Walmart TIF project, informed the city of its plans to recall Pieper and Councilmember Linda Reel (District 2) from office. The Council declined to reveal who created the proposed amendment.
Residents in the audience cheered after the Council voted on the decision.
“Maybe you’re starting to listen by dropping this ordinance this evening,” Liz Schmidt, chair of the Article 9 Alliance, said to the Council. “I’m not entirely sure that’s the case. But I would advise you to carefully reconsider bringing this up again because the opposition to this situation that you created is mounting day by day by day, and it’s poisoning the spirit of this community.”
The Article 9 Alliance recently completed a door-to-door opinion poll of all residents in District 2 affected by the Walmart project. Volunteers knocked on a total of 1165 doors, or 94 percent of the doors. The question posed to residents was: “Should the City Council vote for granting the developer a condition use permit?” There were 101 residents who were in favor of the project, 396 who were opposed and 63 who were undecided.
“What the Council doesn’t understand is that a majority of Ellisville is angry and in opposition to this Walmart,” Schmidt said. “They’ve always claimed that it’s a vocal minority, but our survey shows differently.”
“My position on the recall is if you can throw out … people out of town, then we can throw you people out of office,” Ed O’Reilly, Ellisville resident and former mayor, said to the Council.
Reel said that since the beginning, she has been torn over her decision to approve a Walmart.
“I have serious concerns that our city needs to encourage business, and I care deeply for our residents and their welfare. It is also a fact that it is the Council’s responsibility to keep the city solvent. My most serious concerns have been for the financial security of our city. Yes, we are OK right now, but we have nearly exhausted our options for cutting budgets, and we need to attract new revenue.
“When we lost Gordmans and Best Buy; this heightened my concerns. For that reason, I voted yes for this development. That does not mean I don’t care about the folks who would be directly affected. I have argued for everything they have asked for, and we have gotten almost all requests agreed to.”
In response to a question about her perspective on the recall and the Article 9 Alliance, Reel told West Newsmagazine: “I can honestly say we, the Council, gave this development much serious thought and consideration before moving forward.”
“It is hard for me to understand how someone can be subject to recall for doing their job in a difficult situation,” she said. “I do not believe that the intended purpose of Article 9 in our charter is to punish. I believe it was intended to protect against malfeasance. Our government cannot function if those in office must fear any disagreement would lead to recall, which is why I do not agree with Article 9 Alliance.”