Petition seeks removal of Tracy councilman

Report: City administrator resigns

Photo by Mike Lamb Pictured is the Tracy Municipal Building where the city council meets. A petition has been started to remove Tony Peterson from the Tracy City Council.

TRACY — Some residents recently started a petition to force Councilman Tony Peterson to step down from his council seat as they claim he is misusing his office, among other objections.

Meanwhile, city officials are scrambling to replace City Administrator Madonna Peterson after she abruptly resigned last week.

Rosemary and Michael Martin are two of the petition drive organizers. Others on the petition committee include Jon Chalmers, Tamara Schons and Shirley Anderson.

The Independent attempted to reach out the petitioners, but they did not respond before press time Thursday.

According to a report in the Tracy Headlight Herald, the petition alleges violations of city code and the city’s code of ethics as grounds for Tony Peterson’s removal. Some of the allegations are:

“Issuing orders directly to city employees.”

“Attempting to exercise administrative authority and independently conduct city affairs without council approval.”

“Interacting with city employees and members of the public in a manner which is verbally abusive and physically threatening, creating a hostile atmosphere for city constituents and a hostile workplace for city employees.”

• Exceeding his authority…and being uncooperative with the City Administrator.”

Anderson told the Headlight Herald said that the recall effort began prior to the city administrator’s resignation. Anderson said that Madonna Peterson had nothing to do with the petition drive.

“I started this because it is what is right for the city of Tracy,” Martin said in a written statement to the Headlight Herald. “Tony Peterson has shown a pattern of exceeding his authority and abusing his position for as long as he has been in elected office.

“The recent problems between Tony Peterson and Madonna Peterson are the tipping point. As a concerned citizen, I don’t want the legal troubles that are certain to stem from Tony Peterson’s continued misuse of his elected office. I am interested in doing what is right for the city by protecting citizens and the city employees…”

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s all hearsay,” Councilman Bill Chukuske told the Independent Thursday. “I haven’t had any (city) employee tell me about it.”

Councilman Peterson’s written response was reported as follows:

“First of all, I fully support the public and their right to call for a recall on any office holder, including myself. I look forward to the opportunity to share my side of the story in a public setting. I feel confident that I have not committed any type of misfeasance or malfeasance. I work at keeping informed and providing the best leadership that I can for my community. I have no intention to resign as I do not consider myself a quitter. That being said, rest assured, I will abide by the council’s determination on this matter.”

Petition signers must list their full name and address. If the 130 signatures required are obtained, the petition is to be returned to the city clerk to determine its “sufficiency” and report to the council within 20 days. The council is to determine by resolution the validity of the petition within 20 days.

Within the next 30 to 45 days, the council is to call a special election. The referendum would ask a simple “yes or “no” question of whether the individual should be removed from office. If the majority of voters favor the recall question, the official would be immediately removed from office. The council could then call for a special election to fill the vacancy.

Administrator Peterson’s replacement proceedings pre-empted the agenda items for the special meeting Tuesday as the council accepted her resignation and made plans to find a successor.

According to the Headlight Herald, Mayor Steve Ferrazzano and other council members received notice of Peterson’ resignation in an email sent last week Thursday from Public Works Director Shane Daniels.

Daniels is reported to have told the mayor that Peterson had informed him that she would be on vacation until Oct. 2, when her employment would end.

“My last day will be Oct. 2, 2017,” she had written. “I cannot work under these conditions.”

The Headlight Herald reported that Peterson also dropped off a hand-written Post-it note at their office with an identical message.

Daniels will be officially made interim city administrator at the council’s Monday night meeting, Chukuske said.

The search for a new city administrator is already being advertised with the League of Minnesota Cities and through the local paper, the Tracy Headlight Herald, the city official said.

Additionally, Chukuske was authorized to contact the South Central Service Cooperative in Mankato about the service they could offer in the search.

“Wendall Sande will be coming to the October 9 council meeting to talk about it,” Chukuske said.