By KATIE FISCHER
SNELLVILLE, Ga. — Tensions ran high at the Snellville City Council meeting on Oct. 26, as issues were addressed that could have an effect on the upcoming election.
Council member Barbara Bender used her allotted speaking time to address an investigation involving the city’s veterans’ memorial that was built last year. Bender who is also secretary and treasurer of the Snellville Community Foundation, raised the funds and built the memorial. Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz told Bender during a Council meeting on July 9 that the memorial was currently under investigation.
Bender stated that, as of today nobody, has contacted her or anyone else involved with the memorial about any investigation. A former Council member has recently stated that he has doubts about the handling of the memorial.
Bender claimed that these questions are being used to create doubt during an election year and that she would go over all the records for the project with anyone who has questions. She expressed her disappointment with the people raising questions about the memorial.
“I must say that I am disheartened by the continued and repeated actions of a few to undermine a world class project that is an incredible tribute to our service men and woman and a jewel for the city,” Bender said.
Tensions among board members are not new in Snellville. Last year, Kautz sued all five members of the City Council after they claimed she had no power to fire city attorney, Tony Powell. The Georgia Supreme Court ruled in favor of Kautz in June of this year resulting in Powell’s termination.
On Oct. 21, city clerk Phyllis Richardson filed a $1 million dollar lawsuit against the city. The suit claims that she was repeatedly discriminated against by members of the Council due to her race.
A complaint was originally filed by Richardson in January against several board members about discrimination and mistreatment. Richardson was appointed by Kautz in January to replace former clerk Melissa Arnold.
Richardson was present during the meeting on Monday but did not make any public comments. Council members also did not make any comments about the case.
The Monday council meeting marked Councilwoman Diane Krause‘s last meeting as a member of the board. Krause thanked the city for her time as a member of the City Council.
“I will miss you Snellville, but I will always call you friend,” Krause said.
Krause’s seat along with councilman Dave Emmanuel are available in the upcoming election. Emmanuel will be seeking reelection running against Barbara Moston. Dexter Brannon Harrison and Roger Marmol will be running for Krause’s seat.
Mayor Kautz is also seeking reelection despite the legal troubles faced in the last year. She is running against Garry Lapides and former City Council member Tom Witts.
The meeting ended with concerned citizen Ida Graham chastising the board for their bickering and campaign tactics that she called “childish” and “unacceptable”.
“I am embarrassed to live in a city where this is going on,” Graham said. “We do not have time for this kind of hatred and this is not the city that I want to be proud of.”
Elections will take place Nov. 3 at Snellville City Hall.