Gardner councilman resigns after tussling with colleague - KCTV5

Gardner councilman resigns after tussling with colleague

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GARDNER, KS (KCTV) -

A Gardner City Councilman has resigned after he was charged with battery following a fight with a colleague.

Gardner Mayor David Drovetta said he had accepted Dennis Pugh's resignation, which was effective immediately.

"I wish you and the magnificent city staff all the best," Drovetta said. "Please know that I did not come to this decision lightly and this is the best course of action for our city to move forward."

Drovetta said he would appoint someone to fill the vacancy.

Councilman Larry Fotovich had called for Pugh's resignation after Pugh was charged last week with battery in connection with a dispute involving Fotovich.

The tussle between the two began when a discussion about whether to purchase video recording equipment for council meetings turned ugly. The debate got so heated that Fotovich said Pugh threatened him and stormed out of the meeting.

Fotovich said shortly after he got home from the meeting, Pugh pulled up to his house and got him in a headlock. That's when Fotovich pulled out a video camera and started recording. After another tussle, Fotovich called the police.

Pugh's resignation came just hours before the council met for the first time since the altercation. Fotovich had said he had arranged a new seat in the council chambers to avoid sitting next to Pugh.

The issue was a hot topic at Monday night's council meeting.

"You have a chance from this moment on to change the tenor of these council meetings," former Mayor Carol Lehman said. "To work together as a unit and to treat each other with respect."

Residents aired their displeasure with the council, with every speaker telling the council to put the dispute behind them and move on.

"If we can't even have regular normal discourse without councilmen accosting each other then we will never see Gardner realize its potential," Steve Shute said.

Drovetta agreed that the council is at a critical juncture.

"Like any entity, like any organization or any family, we will have our differences. There will be challenging times," he said. "Our response to that and how we move forward is certainly what will direct us and what will determine whether we're successful or not."

To read previous coverage, click here and here.

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