There is no city official who was elected currently serving the city of Mokane following the resignation of the mayor and three aldermen. The only remaining alderwoman, Jo Belmont, was appointed earlier this year; she held a special meeting Friday appointing Tonya Clarke, Tyler Priess and Tyson Bishop as aldermen and Danny Lamons as mayor.
The new aldermen took their seats Friday and conducted business as aldermen, including taking a vote on the appointment of Lamons as mayor. They were never sworn in to their positions.
According to Missouri State Statue 79.260, “Every officer of the city and his assistants, and every alderman, before entering upon the duties of his office, shall take and subscribe to an oath or affirmation before some court of record. …”
It is unclear how this affects the legality of the actions done by the aldermen.
This is not the first time Mokane has been hit by multiple resignations at once, and it’s the second time Belmont has been the only alderwoman remaining to start the process of appointing a new city leadership. Seven months ago, the resignation of a mayor and two aldermen left only Belmont.
The recent resignations of Peggy Nalls as mayor and aldermen Ray Jenning, Lori Weakland and Becky Davis opened the positions for the appointments Friday. Nalls, who has now resigned from the mayor’s position twice since being appointed last year, said she would be resigning at July’s meeting for health reasons. Davis also said she planned to resign at the next meeting. The city clerk, Angie Neiderschulte, also resigned this month.
Resident Laurie Lamons was the first Belmont appointed to the board during the meeting, but she stepped down soon afterward when Danny Lamons was appointed mayor, as the two live in the same household. Danny Lamons had also run for the mayor’s position in April’s municipal election, but he lost to write-in candidate Nalls.
The meeting, which was attended by roughly 15 people including city officials, was also less formal than usual. Motions and clear votes were sparse, as people spoke freely about what to do. Several of the new aldermen voiced concerns about not being available enough because of their jobs, and some said they may have to back out of the position if it does not work out for them.
Many of those who resigned have said in the past few months they were treated unfairly by residents, and Niederschulte said during a meeting with Callaway County Commissioners and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources earlier this month that they all had received verbal threats.
The appointment of new aldermen and the mayor were the only items on the agenda Friday. However, residents and the aldermen discussed the situation with the town’s water and sewer systems, of which DNR Regional Director Irene Crawford said she could not “think of another town in my 30 counties that’s in that bad a shape.”
Danny Lamons and several aldermen agreed, although it will be unpopular, Mokane will have to raise the water and sewer rates to pay to fix the infrastructure. At one point, Belmont said there is a good chance rates will have to double temporarily.
Some residents at the meeting said they approved the idea of rates going up, saying the current ones are too low and it would make addressing the issues impossible. No one at the meeting spoke against the idea.
Danny Lamons said the city may pursue asking the Department of Natural Resources to pay for a part of the costs, adding DNR’s lack of enforcement on Mokane’s water and sewer system added to today’s issues.
Lamons said he has thought about bringing a lawsuit against DNR.