A New Carlisle councilman has been reprimanded by fellow council members for an alleged “aggressive and discourteous” response to the city manager over a violation of the city’s campaign sign ordinance.
Ethan Reynolds, who’s filed a petition to run for a seat on the Bethel Twp. Board of Trustees in November — while keeping his current city council seat — reportedly displayed trustee campaign signs within the city prior to 90 days before the Nov. 5 election.
According to an Aug. 6 reprimand letter to Reynolds from council, City Manager Kim Jones informed him of the alleged violation last month and Reynolds responded with a “lack of respect for the city manager” and a “threat to sue the city over the issue.”
Reynolds called the incident a case of “he said she said.”
“I never threatened to sue the city of New Carlisle, I merely pointed out to the city manager that I would seek legal counsel about the yard sign ordinance,” he told the News-Sun Monday. “The next thing I know I am being being reprimanded. The council and I have had many disagreements and this is no different.”
The letter, approved at the Aug. 5 council meeting and signed by Mayor Lowell McGlothin, Councilwoman Jane Manemann and Councilmen Mike Lowrey, Rick Lowrey, Bill McIntire and Dick Zsambok, was obtained through a Springfield News-Sun public records request.
“You are certainly entitled to your opinion on the propriety of an ordinance, but by necessarily implying that (Jones) should give you special treatment regarding enforcement of the campaign sign ordinance under threat of legal action, you, at the very least, gave the appearance of using your public office for personal motives and a disregard and lack of respect for the very city ordinances you are sworn to uphold,” the letter reads.
Shortly after the July incident, Reynolds emailed Jones an apology that said, in whole: “Hey Kim, I am sorry. I went about this all wrong. They will be down tonight. Ethan”. That email was also obtained through a public records request.
“After our phone conversation I spent all weekend picking up my yard signs in order to be in accordance with the cities laws and to smooth the council’s ruffled feathers,” Reynolds said.
The letter also indicates council’s prior concerns about Reynolds.
“At various times, different council members have had discussions with the mayor about your conduct,” the letter says. “This is not the first time the rest of council has had concerns about your public statements or conduct as a council member reflecting on your suitability for office under our charter and ordinances.”
Reynolds countered that he and other council members have philosophical differences of opinion.
“The council and I have had a lot of differences of opinion, especially on what a councilman’s job is. I feel that … is (representing) the citizens and businesses of the city of New Carlisle,” Reynolds said. “Because of this, I have spent a lot time going around and talking with these citizens and businesses. The other council members see this as riling people up.”
“We trust you will take these constructive concerns under advisement and conduct yourself more appropriately in the future,” the letter says.