WOODMERE — Council President Jennifer Mitchell Earley drafted a handbook for council members in an effort to maintain the village’s administrative structure and improve efficiency and transparency. After Councilwoman SharNette McCully joined council in 2018 and asked for a handbook, Ms. Earley said she realized that there was none.
At the April 29 council work session, Councilwoman Lisa Brockwell explained that she liked the handbook because it outlines the duties of council members.
“We don’t know what our duties are versus what we’re told to do,” she said.
In addition to discussing the role of council members, the handbook addresses a multitude of local government topics, including home rule, chartered villages, ethics, meeting procedures and the chain of command.
Councilwoman Glenda Todd-Miller said that the handbook clarifies topics that have gotten “murky” over time.
“I was charged to do what is best for the village and I hold that close to my heart,” she said. “It is important to protect the village. We have to get back to a place where we’re working in the best interest of the citizens.”
Councilman Craig Wade also supported the handbook, but commented on the use of the word “murky.” He said that he has never felt that he works at the behest of the mayor, and said that he does not want a constant power struggle.
“There are certain things that are our responsibility and we need to hold the administration responsible,” Mr. Wade said. “We can never lose sight of doing what is best for the residents.”
Councilman Tennyson Adams, chairman of the Utilities Committee, said that council must approach village matters as a “two-way street” with the administration. All officials need to be more cognizant of the needs in the village.
“Our surroundings are changing quickly,” he explained. “We’re strictly run by retail in terms of income and we have to be very knowledgeable of that.”
The council handbook should provide clarification to all Woodmere officials, according to Ms. McCully. She said that the council appointees, including Treasurer Tom Cornhoff, Law Director Frank Consolo and Engineer Ed Hren, would know what council is working on.
Ms. Earley said that she is looking for more communication and transparency between the administration of Mayor Ben Holbert and the council members, and said that department chairs need to answer questions and provide information when asked to do so.
Ms. McCully said that she does not want to take sides between council, the administration and council’s appointees.
“I’m not here to take sides. I ask questions about issues,” she said. “I have to make an informed decision. I want to ask the correct questions so when I vote, I’m voting on the information I received and not what other people want to happen.”
Ms. Todd-Miller said that she wants to do her due diligence and work together with the administration to do what is best for Woodmere. Council met this Wednesday in regular session.