Council member Steve Shute likes council member Larry Fotovich, personally, but believes Fotovich intends to move from the city of Gardner.
Fotovich’s Gardner home is listed for sale, and he has purchased a home in Olathe.
“It really comes down to the spirit of the seat versus the law,” Shute said prior to introducing a resolution to censure Fotovich.
Several weeks ago, council members approved changes to city ordinances, but the changes did not change the eligibility for office requirements. To serve on the city council, a member must be a qualified elector of, or registered to vote in, the city.
Gardner residents presented a petition with 176 signatures to the city council asking Fotovich to resign a month ago, and at least two members of the public have spoken at the last several meetings suggesting Fotovich should resign.
During the June 2 meeting, Fotovich asked if the signatories, some with names like “Me So Horny” were actual Gardner residents or voters.
Rich Melton and Bruce Hughes, Gardner, presented each council member with a printed photo of Fotovich with several other people. Hughes told council members the photograph was taken during a neighborhood picnic in Olathe.
Shute said Fotovich met the letter of the law, but not the spirit of it. Fotovich, Shute said, intends to move out of Gardner.
“I don’t think you can divine intention,” Fotovich said. “My family, as I’ve said many times, continues to occupy both houses.”
Shute eventually withdrew his motion, in part, because council member Kristina Harrison left the meeting early due to a family emergency. At a previous meeting, council member Tory Roberts moved to censure Fotovich for what she termed the “immorality” of not living in Gardner. That motion died for lack of a second. Shute did not attend that council meeting, and council member Heath Freeman said he would entertain a discussion at a future meeting when Shute could attend.
“I don’t owe anyone a rebuttal,” Fotovich said during the June 2 meeting.
Fotovich said the real estate market will determine which house becomes his primary residence.
“I have two houses… I’ve occupied both residences. I’ve complied with the law. You really can’t get inside someone’s head.”
He also said council members are violating their own rules by making derogatory comments about him from the dias.