Opinion divided on Lancaster mayor at public meeting

gkocher1@herald-leader.comFebruary 20, 2012 

LANCASTER — Whether the mayor of the Garrard County seat stays or goes, citizens at a public forum Monday night said they want Lancaster City Council members to work together.

About 50 people attended the forum to voice opinions on the city's leadership. The forum was called after five of the six members of the city council called for Mayor Brenda Powers to resign. The council outlined more than 20 allegations of misconduct, willful neglect and incapacity in a Feb. 6 memorandum.

But Powers reiterated at the forum that she has no intention of resigning.

"When I took this position, I left it in the Lord's hands," she said. "I tried never to do anything wrong."

Citizens who spoke were split on whether Powers should stay.

Gale Eden said Powers "has been a great mayor."

Then, addressing the council members, Eden said, "I think you all have had it out for her. ... We need to be about our city's business instead of squabbling and fighting with each other."

Howard Holton, who owns property in the city, also spoke in the mayor's defense.

"I know what she has done has been done from her heart," Howard said. "If we don't stick together as a small community, first thing you know we're not going to have a place called Lancaster, Kentucky."

Cecil Arnold, who does not live in the city, and others suggested that the council has been bogged down in disagreements so much that perhaps the time had come for a change at the top.

"I think she should gracefully step down," Arnold said.

Barbara Edwards also said Powers should resign because she is not meeting the challenges of the office.

Sharon Skurka of Lancaster addressed the mayor directly: "I don't think you are a leader."

Some people agreed with Barry Bowman, pastor of St. Paul Predestinarian Baptist Church in Lancaster, who said the public bickering "was embarrassing for the city."

Powers, 65, was a member of the city council for several years before she ran for mayor and won, defeating incumbent Don Rinthen in the November 2010 general election.

In the memo it released, the council said Powers attempted to circumvent the authority of the council to approve expenditures, failed to discipline in a timely manner employees who violated policies and procedures, and violated state regulations in regard to proper procedures for the hiring of police officers. In addition, the council said Powers had made profane public comments, denigrated the work ethic of city employees and showed she did not understand the city's code of ethics.

Powers previously said she "denies each and every unsubstantiated accusation and allegation."

After listening to about an hour of public comments Monday night, the council went behind closed doors to discuss personnel for about 75 minutes. No action was taken.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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