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Toomey: 'Black eyes heal'

Mitchell Mayor Jerry Toomey admits Monday's City Council meeting was a "black eye" for the community, but he's looking toward the future. After heated exchanges over two separate allegations against him were made Monday night, Toomey said it's "u...

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Mayor Jerry Toomey has a laugh while sitting at the head of Mitchell City Council after having been sworn in as the new mayor in July 2015. Toomey replaced Ken Tracy, who served as mayor for three years. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Mitchell Mayor Jerry Toomey admits Monday's City Council meeting was a "black eye" for the community, but he's looking toward the future.

After heated exchanges over two separate allegations against him were made Monday night, Toomey said it's "unfortunate" how the meeting turned out. But Toomey said in a statement released Thursday he hopes the city can find a way to move forward.

"Black eyes heal, if you let them," Toomey said. At the meeting, which City Council members later called an "embarrassment" and "sad," Toomey was accused of following Mitchell man Brad Bowling home and calling the police to give Bowling a preliminary breath test. He was later accused by Tim Jones, of Jones Supply, of allegedly directing department heads to purchase supplies through a state contract instead of Jones due to a personal "vendetta."

With days to contemplate the events that transpired Monday night, accusations Toomey immediately refuted, the first-term mayor expressed some regret.

"Responding to the accusations gives them a legitimacy they do not deserve," Toomey said. "However, the public forum has a critical place in government and it is important to let people voice their issues, valid or not."

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Looking beyond the "ugliness" of Monday's meeting, Toomey said "there were genuine concerns" being discussed. Among those concerns was the city supporting local businesses.

Toomey issued the directive to make use of the state contract to purchase janitorial and cleaning supplies in an attempt to save up to $30,000, but he hoped this discussion brought to bear an important topic. Toomey believes Monday's exchange could spark a council discussion to develop a policy regarding local spending.

"Hopefully this effort will help the citizens out there that are confused when they hear how important it is to keep business with Jones Supply because they are local but then see a recycling contract get sent out of town when a local vendor could have been chosen," Toomey said.

Toomey was referencing the City Council's decision to select Aberdeen-based Dependable Sanitation over Mitchell-based Petrik Sanitation for a $285,600 annual contract, which was lower than Petrik's contract proposal.

Toomey had vetoed the council's decision, instead supporting the Mitchell company.

As Toomey looks to put Monday's meeting behind him, he's now turned toward the future.

"The last thing this community needs is a distraction from the great things that we are all accomplishing," Toomey said.

 

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Here is Toomey's statement in its entirety:

Monday night was a black eye for our community. It is unfortunate how out of hand things became and if I could go back and change how the meeting played out, I would. Responding to the accusations gives them a legitimacy they do not deserve. However, the public forum has a critical place in government and it is important to let people voice their issues, valid or not. If you look past all of the ugliness of Monday night, there were genuine concerns that were being discussed. Mainly, supporting local business.

I do realize the need to support local business. The council and those that came to share their thoughts are preaching to the choir on that subject. That is why I hope to work together with the council to develop a policy on local spending. Hopefully this effort will help the citizens out there that are confused when they hear how important it is to keep business with Jones Supply because they are local but then see a recycling contract get sent out of town when a local vendor could have been chosen. The reasoning behind these differences needs to be spelled out so the public is ensured of consistency. Nevertheless, one thing this policy will need to account for is the fact that no city employee should ever be stalked, harassed, intimidated, or threatened by anyone soliciting business, local or not.

My hope is that we all find a way to move forward from here. The last thing this community needs is a distraction from the great things that we are all accomplishing. Black eyes heal, if you let them.

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