UPDATE: Eau Claire City Council President Kerry Kincaid Abruptly Steps Down

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Kincaid
Kincaid

Longtime Eau Claire City Council President Kerry Kincaid resigned from office Tuesday, effective immediately.

The resignation was announced at the beginning of Tuesday’s City Council meeting by City Manager Dale Peters. Kincaid was not present at the meeting, over which Vice President Andrew Werthmann presided.

“On this day, and effective immediately, I find it necessary to resign my position as City Council President as it has become impossible to govern in a manner befitting a city that works, and to which the public has become accustomed,” Kincaid said in a statement released to the media.

According to WEAU News 13, Kincaid’s decision was so abrupt that several council members only learned about it when they came to Tuesday afternoon’s meeting.

The statement outlined a list of accomplishments during her time on the council, including “downtown revitalization (from Phoenix Park to the Confluence Project), an expectation of civility in public service, trust in local governance, intergovernmental agreements with surrounding jurisdictions, creation of the Public Spirit Fund and Eau Claire PORCH, Inc., the city’s first Writer in Residence, and cultivating an excellent working relationship with City staff.”

Kincaid, 65, has served as council president since 2009, and was most recently re-elected to a three-year term in 2017. She served a total of 14 years on the City Council and previously served two terms on the Washington Town Board.

Kincaid became the fifth member of the 11-person council to leave office this year. Four others – David Klinkhammer, Kathy Mitchell, Tim Tewalt, and Bob Von Haden – lost their re-election bids in April to a crop of newcomers.

Klinkhammer, the former councilman, told the Leader-Telegram that he believed the change in the makeup of the council likely contributed to Kincaid’s decision.

Over the past year, disagreements over council members’ decorum during meetings arose. In particular, Councilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle’s desire to continue to nurse her young child during meetings led to a successful vote, supported by Kincaid, to prohibit children from the council dais during meetings.

WQOW-TV News 18 reported that there were “tensions between Kincaid and other city council members.” According to an open records request filed by WQOW, “At least one city council member had requested mediation with Kincaid, but, according to our records, that request was never fulfilled. Tuesday, the council was set to discuss writing a code of conduct for council members.”

According to City Council documents, a proposed resolution stated a code of conduct was needed to “ensure a working environment among city council members that upholds the principles of inclusivity, support, respect, civility and honesty.”

Later this month, the council is expected to discuss the procedure for finding an interim president. And next April, a special election will be held to fill the remaining year of Kincaid’s term.

Below is the full text of Kincaid’s statement to the media:

Announcement to the Press
July 12, 2018

On this day, and effective immediately, I find it necessary to resign my position as City Council President as it has become impossible to govern in a manner befitting a city that works, and to which the public has become accustomed.

I leave my position proud of the contributions my leadership helped accomplish for the common good. I count among them: downtown revitalization (from Phoenix Park to the Confluence Project), an expectation of civility in public service, trust in local governance, intergovernmental agreements with surrounding jurisdictions, creation of the Public Spirit Fund and Eau Claire PORCH, Inc., the city’s first Writer in Residence, and cultivating an excellent working relationship with City staff.

These accomplishments are not mine alone and I proclaim my admiration and hearty respect for city staff and the visionary people who urged me to try new things for the good of the city.

A lady always knows when it is time to leave. I do so now to employ my leadership skills toward another good.

It was an honor to have helped build a city that works.

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