Editor's note: This article was updated July 15, 2021, to correct the vote tally.
MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon City Council passed a resolution of "no confidence" on Monday in Safety-Service Director Richard Dzik by a 5 to 1 vote.
Up for its second reading, council suspended the rules and took the resolution to its final vote. Mayor Matt Starr said Dzik will remain in the position.
Council member Julia Warga cast the dissenting vote. Council member Amber Keener was not present.
Noting there were a lot of strong feelings on the issue, Warga said council should not lose sight of three key facts:
• Dzik injured the trust placed in him by council. Since then, he has publicly apologized to council.
• The mayor formally reprimanded Dzik, he has been punished, and, "We do not punish people twice for the same offense."
• Council's shared values teach compassion and forgiveness.
“Most who have contacted me want council to forgive Mr. Dzik and move forward. What Mr. Dzik did was wrong. But I accept his apology, and I don't intend to punish someone who has already been punished,” she said.
“So I am asking my fellow councillors, for the good of the community, look to your values of compassion and forgiveness, and let's get back to the work we were elected to do."
Councilman Mike Hillier said he received no calls asking council to drop the legislation, and reiterated Dzik's apology was not enough. He told Warga he appreciated the fact that she did not waiver from her conviction and other council members that he appreciated them voting for the people they represent, despite political party pressure.
“When I joined this council in 2006, I felt politics was left outside chamber doors on Monday nights. That has all changed,” he said. “To some in Mount Vernon, it is more important to save the party than represent the people. Let's leave the politics in Washington and continue to do our job we were asked to do by our constituents.”
Councilwoman Janis Seavolt also said she received no communication asking council to drop the resolution.
“My constituents said trust was broken,” she said. “I have to vote what my constituents want me to vote. I don't have the luxury of doing anything else.”
Many countries under the Parliamentary system have a vote of "no confidence," but there is no such thing in the American political system. Council members Tammy Woods and Samantha Scoles said they still felt it was important to bring forth the resolution.
“This was the final thing that council could do to voice our opinion on the subject,” Woods said. “I felt we had an obligation to make our final statement on how this all played out.
“This was not about party, this was not about politics,” she continued. “It was a trust issue. That trust was broken. The suspension didn't fix it. That will take some conversation with Mr. Dzik.”
"Clearly we don't have a say in who gets put in that position. But we do have an opinion on how we work with that person," Scoles said. "Mr. Dzik is the leader of all of our department heads, and he sets the tone for what we should expect. When he sets the tone that you can be deceitful, that is not good for the city.”
The mayor appoints the safety-service director. Starr said he believes the two-week suspension Dzik served is appropriate and adequate.
Dzik served a two-week suspension without pay in May for changing the order in which council members voted. Council members alleged that he changed the order in order to influence the vote on two pieces of legislation: a contract to provide fire and EMS services to College Township and the creation of a community advocate position in the police department.