Aldermen call special meeting for citizen concerns, none voiced, mayor resigns

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 7/27/22

BELLE — Belle Mayor Josh Seaver resigned prior to a July 21 meeting called jointly by Alderman Jeanette Struemph and recently appointed Alderman Kayla Bray to discuss citizen concerns about the …

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Aldermen call special meeting for citizen concerns, none voiced, mayor resigns

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BELLE — Belle Mayor Josh Seaver resigned prior to a July 21 meeting called jointly by Alderman Jeanette Struemph and recently appointed Alderman Kayla Bray to discuss citizen concerns about the mayor. Although nearly 20 people were in attendance at the meeting, no one voiced concerns.

Bray and Struemph posted the meeting on July 20 as it takes two aldermen to call for a public meeting without the mayor. 

According to the Notice of Special Meeting, “Notice is hereby given that Alderwoman Jeanette Struemph and Alderwoman Kayla Bray has called a special meeting of the Belle Board of Aldermen of the city of Belle, Missouri, to be held at the Belle City Hall on Thursday, July 21, at 5 p.m. for the following purposes: concerned citizens, code of conduct, and workers hours. This meeting is in compliance with the city of Belle Code, Sec. 2-23. If it is found that specific, confidential personnel information need to be discussed the council will continue in closed session pursuant to chapter 610.021 RSMO.”

The notice was posted at 4:20 p.m. on July 20 at City Hall.

Struemph was reportedly ready to ask for Mayor Josh Seaver’s resignation for the way he spoke to her following the July 12 meeting when she attempted to share an unsubstantiated rumor prior to moving to closed session. The information was not on the agenda and was being shared after Struemph voiced her displeasure for the second meeting in a row that she was not being named mayor pro tem, a title that would allow her to serve as mayor if the elected mayor steps down or is absent.

However, before the meeting could begin, Seaver took action by reading his own resignation letter.

“Before we get started, I feel like I need to apologize for that little outburst last month — or last week — for that little outburst last week,” Seaver said. “It was unprofessional and it was not in my nature and it should have never happened. I do apologize for that and the way I conducted myself in that.”

Seaver read his resignation letter, signed it, and handed it to City Clerk Frankie Hicks.

Bray made the motion and Struemph accepted it.

White told Seaver, “I think that you should be commended for the hours that you put into this. I know this has not been an easy job for you. You took on some pretty big battles this year. I fully agree that you are 100 percent right in your resignation about the goals you tried to reach. I just want you to know it hasn’t been unnoticed by everybody. I just want you to know.”

Seaver said he appreciated the comment and Hicks asked for a roll call vote. The board approved the resignation with a 3-0 vote. White could not vote because he was acting as mayor pro tem.

Seaver left the 20 or so people assembled, made up of Belinda Branson and her husband, Struemph’s friends and family, Brenda Guffey, city employees and Major Scott John with the Maries County Sheriff’s Department to continue the meeting.

After Seaver left, no citizen concerns were voiced after recently appointed alderman and mayor pro tem Daryl White Jr. took the mayoral seat.

“That was a sudden turn of events we weren’t planning on, guys, so bear with us,” White said. “Should I say, does any concerned citizens have something they want to say now?”

James “Pud” Mitchell, Struemph’s brother-in-law, spoke first. “Problem’s gone. Sorry, it’s how I feel.”

Belinda Branson was next.

“I don’t think you all smeared his reputation like he gave you credit for,” Branson said, referring to Struemph’s attempt to share the unsubstantiated rumor the previous week, and Seaver’s response. “I think he’s a big boy and he is responsible for his own actions.”

No one responded to Branson’s comment. White asked if anyone else had something to share.

“That leads us to the second point on our agenda tonight of concerned citizens,” Struemph said, taking over the meeting. “Um, I have no personal vindictive (SIC) about anyone. I think we are a great community. I had no personal vindictive about no one. Regarding the questions that I did, I had several, several concerned citizens from the town question me with several different issues and wondering why they aren’t taken care of.”

Struemph continued to address the 15 people seated across the table from her. No one shared concerns about the city.

“I feel, sitting on this council, my heart is in this town and I feel you all deserve those answers to questions, and why,” Struemph said.

No one spoke about their concerns.

“If we can’t provide those for you and we can’t carry on with the codes as they are described in the book, I don’t feel like we are doing our jobs sitting up here,” Struemph said. “I mean no harm to anybody and I carry no burden against anybody and I feel like that we are a strong community and we need to stick together and become leaders here. I know 100 percent of the time I am not going to please everybody. My best interest is with the citizens and the town of Belle. I am trying to clear up some rumors that are starting and I did nothing personal against anybody. The way the timing come down, the way it all was, it was getting worse and worse and worse as time went on and I felt like it is time to address the issues and get it taken care of. I thank you all for giving me the opportunity to do that.”

Struemph did not share the rumor and citizens did not share concerns.

White said there have been a lot of disagreements in the room and that he has disagreed with the people there but considers them all friends.

“We are all part of the same town,” White said. “We are trying to work for you guys. Feel free to call us out on it. There is decisions that we have more information on this side of the table than that side of the table. If you want to ask we can explain how we come to our decision and our vote. There are things that we can’t share if they are employee matters.”

White said he wants everything to be transparent on the board and wants to make the town better and moving forward. In December there will be four board seats open if they want to run. Aldermen Barb Howarth, Kayla Bray, White’s seat and the mayor’s seat will all be on the April ballot.

On July 25, the board announced a special meeting at 6:30 on Thursday, July 28 to appoint a mayor, interview applicants for court clerk and close out the 2021 budget before moving on to the next fiscal year.

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