Chatham mayor rebuked for rude gesture
After Chatham Mayor Tom Gray used obscene body language at a meeting that was originally scheduled as an ethics commission hearing against the mayor himself, the Village of Chatham unanimously voted to censure him.
The decision came this week, with various trustees also calling for Gray’s resignation after he issued a “one-finger salute” during the previous ethics hearing.
With the mayor’s administration perceived as counterproductive by some — a “stumbling block” to progress, according to Edgar County Watchdogs — the village board undertook a discussion culminating in a possible request for his resignation at the next scheduled board meeting.
The meeting opened with immediate discussion of Gray’s potential resignation. One trustee expressed regret that an official position had not been made sooner, saying that Gray’s action was unacceptable and the board needed to make a public statement quickly.
“We should have had an emergency meeting right away,” trustee Nina Lindhorst said.
Aside from her professional stance, Lindhorst also described the event’s impact on a personal level.
“I continue to look at my kid, who’s saying to me, ‘Why is this okay? Why are you letting this happen, Mom?’” she said. “When I’ve lectured her to be a leader, this is what you have to do. When you don’t agree with somebody, you sit down and have a conversation.”
Regardless of opposition, Lindhorst emphasized, public officials must conduct themselves professionally.
“Because that’s what you do when you’re a leader,” she said. “And that’s what we’re here to teach our kids.”
Lindhorst's speech was met with resounding applause before the meeting continued. Colleagues concurred that for years Gray has failed to participate in discussion, engage with citizens or even attend board meetings at times.
In addition to the censure and potential for a vote of no confidence, court action may also be possible, according to Lindhorst’s testimony during the meeting.