Mayor's decision to resign ignites Loomis speculation

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 - 10:16 am

Loomis residents are still reeling from Mayor Walt Scherer's announcement last week that he was planning to resign from the council after 27 years.

He told council members at the Aug. 13 meeting that he intends to step down as mayor and leave his councilman's post, and that he has a replacement in mind.

"Hair was blown back," said Councilwoman Sandra Calvert. "If I wasn't there, I wouldn't have believed it."

Scherer urged the council to appoint local business owner Pat Taylor for the remainder of his council term, which ends next fall.

"Pat understands the heart and soul of this community," Scherer said.

"In order to provide for an orderly transition of offices, I will be in meetings with Pat, town staff and community members over the next few weeks."

This suggestion didn't sit well with Calvert.

"It's absurd," she said. "That's not the procedure. You don't pick your replacement."

The Loomis Town Council typically fills vacancies, she said.

Calvert added that a business owner on the town council would "get sticky" with potential conflicts of interest.

City officials are still speculating as to why Scherer made the announcement. Calvert suggested it may be an elaborate political move.

Planning Commissioner Janet Thew sees it as a direct result of her falling-out with Scherer earlier this year.

In May, Thew and activist William Branch asked the state attorney general's office to examine whether there was a conflict of interest with Councilman Dave Wheeler's position on the council and his job as the area's fire chief. Scherer asked Thew to resign, and she did not. As Scherer's appointee to the commission, the mayor's resignation would effectively end her term as well, Thew said.

"I think he's using this as a way to get rid of me," she said. "But I'm not sure why that's so important to him."

Nothing is official until Scherer actually resigns, though. Scherer needs to submit letters to the town clerk and council, which Jeff Mitchell, town attorney, confirmed hasn't happened yet.

Scherer noted in his announcement that October will likely mark his final council meeting.

Should Scherer resign, the council will have 60 days to fill the Town Council spot by appointment or special election. And because of the timing, the council's appointment would keep the post until the November 2014 election, according to Mitchell.

However, it is unclear who would take up Scherer's post as mayor, which ends in four months. Normally that would go to the vice mayor, but Wheeler is too new to the council to qualify. The mayor needs to have had a full year on the council already, Mitchell said.

How the council selects Scherer's replacement – who may or may not be Taylor – hasn't been determined.

Town Clerk Crickett Strock said that in the past, the council has placed newspaper ads for applicants and held public meetings to fill openings.

Call The Bee's Janelle Bitker, (916) 321-1027. Follow her in Twitter @JanelleBitker.

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