Danedri Thompson

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Heath Freeman will replace Dennis Pugh on the Gardner City Council.

Council members, in a 3-1 vote, approved Mayor Dave Drovetta’s appointment to the council, but not before council member Larry Fotovich asked Freeman a number of questions.

Eight people ran for three seats on the council last April, Freeman was not among them, and Fotovich asked why.

“Timing has just opened up and it made this a little bit of an opportunity,” he said.

Fotovich also asked about Freeman’s participation in the 2010 campaign to recall former council members Mary Peters and John Shepherd from the council. He asked if Freeman could draw any parallels between the perceived Kansas Open Meetings Act that sparked the recall campaign and two violations of the current council last summer.

“I still think the way (former council members) went about it was a power play,” Freeman said. “I agree the D.A. said they did not violate the law. We can arugue back and forth, and we know where I fell into it. I don’t think you’re going to get the answer you want from me… I don’t think the most recent violations were a play for power.”

Fotovich also inquired about Freeman’s relationship to Gardner Bank, which he said has many development issues that come before the city. Freeman is the son-in-law of the bank’s vice president.

Freeman said he would vote on all issues keeping Gardner’s best interests at heart.

Council members Brian Broxterman, Kristina Harrison and Chris Morrow approved Freeman’s appointment. Fotovich voted against it.

Freeman marks Drovetta’s fifth appointment to the Gardner City Council since his election in 2009. He replaces council member Dennis Pugh, who resigned after being charged with battery and criminal deprivation of property. Pugh was elected in 2011, and Freeman will serve out the remainder of his term until 2015.