Ontonagon president not a resident of village

Skip Schulz/For the Gazette - At this week’s Ontonagon Village Council Meeting, Village President Gerard Waldrop (far left) admitted to allegations made by a village resident that Waldrop has not been a village resident since this past April.

ONTONAGON — At Monday night’s Ontonagon Village Council meeting, the issue of whether Village President Gerard Waldrop can legally continue as president was raised, as Waldrop stated that he is a resident outside of the village.

During public comment, village resident William Johnson stated that he has records that Waldrop has claimed his residence in Green as of April 2, 2019. “That according to General Law Village Act of 1985, and as of August 22, 2019, the law stipulates that if any elected officer shall cease to be a resident of the village during his or her term of office, the office shall be thereby vacated,” Johnson said.

Waldrop stated that he moved outside of the Village to take care of his ailing mother. Waldrop referred to informing Village Manager Joe Erickson about his move outside of the village.

Erickson stated that he did remember the conversation with Waldrop and referred the issue to the Village’s attorney.

“I’m going to put it in layman’s terms. My mother has fallen ill. I’m taking care of my mother,” Waldrop stated. “If anyone has a problem with me running the Village Council meeting as president, other than Bill Johnson, I would like those as well.”

While Waldrop did not finish questioning if others wanted Waldrop to follow the law, he did go into his care for his mother.

“My mother will take priority. It’s as simple as that,” Waldrop explained. “You want to make this seem as I am committing a crime, Bill Johnson. That’s fine, you do that. My mother will take priority. It’s as simple as that.”

Waldrop stated that he expected this issue of living outside of the village to be brought up before Monday night’s meeting by Johnson or others, but no one has approached him about this.

“I’m not hiding anything,” said Waldrop.

After Waldrop stated that he lives outside the village, Johnson asked that the Village Council ask for his resignation.

No one on the council asked for Waldrop’s resignation.

“So I am going to continue to take care of my sick mother,” Waldrop said.

This drew an applause from a portion of those at the meeting.

Council member John Hamm stated that Waldrop was a resident of the village when he ran for the office.

Tom Hamilton stated that while he owns property within the village, he is not allowed to vote in the Village.

“I can’t vote because I live outside the village limits, yet I pay taxes in the village,” said Hamilton. “I’m not the only person that pays taxes in the village but can’t vote in the village. Something ‘outta’ be done.”

Under council policy, and stated in all of their minutes, any person that speaks during public comment has to state their name and whether they are a resident or non-resident.

“Non-resident, what I’ve been told I have to say,” resident Jeff Lemke said as part of his introduction. “So that would make you (referring to Waldrop), a non-resident to be on the board, correct?”

“As of right now I am a non-resident,” Waldrop said. “We are working through the legal…whether I will finish up my term is yet to be determined.”

He went on to say they are working with the village attorney on the legality of remaining as village president while not being a resident of the village.

“This is not an isolated incident, people have moved during their term to take care of a sick relative,” said Waldrop.

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