CORRECTION: The Village of Ferrelview could have three new trustees on the board. Unofficial results now show Brooks Moseley with 22 votes, and 28 write-in votes. If a candidate received more than 22 write-in votes, the Platte County Board of Elections could certify that person as the winner.
A Clay County jury and voters in the Village of Ferrelview provided quite the contrast in how to view the future of police chief Daniel Clayton.
The Tuesday, April 4 municipal election offered residents of the small town a chance to change the guard on the village’s board of trustees. With Frank Baumann opting not to seek re-election, at least one new trustee would be elected.
Turned out to be two.
Theresa Wilson and Russell Wilson, a married couple, ousted current board president Steven Carr when the vote totals came in Tuesday night. Russell Wilson received 38 votes, Theresa Wilson 36 and Carr just 30.
Carr and the current board members have continued to support Clayton through controversy since his hire in 2015. Now the chief of the Ferrelview Police Department, Clayton has been the subject of accusations of misconduct and harassment during the past year — a tenure marked by increased filings of municipal citations, according to research The Citizen did over the summer.
The accusations apparently started prior to Clayton’s arrival in Ferrelview.
The City of Mosby (Mo.) in Clay County dismissed Clayton from its police force in 2014, but he later filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer. Last week, a Clay County jury awarded him more than $300,000 in punitive damages, agreeing with his petition that he was fired due to his race.
In court documents, the City of Mosby cited complaints against Clayton, and Kansas City attorney Dennis Rowland used those claims when asking the Ferrelview Board of Trustees about its process of hiring Clayton.
The results of the week-long jury trial, detailed in a story on page A1 of this week’s edition, lend credence to the idea that Clayton might be unfairly targeted. He has claimed that he’s just doing his job and has made an effort to clean up the small village located just east of KCI Airport off of Interstate 435.
Theresa Wilson has been part of the vocal criticism and worked to initiate a probe from the Missouri State Auditor’s office. Her citizen-led petition garnered the required 64 signatures.
According to a notice of verification, the state auditor’s office will determine the scope of the now-pending audit, and all concerns may not be audited. The audit will “primarily cover the current period and most recently completed fiscal year.”
Theresa Wilson not only wonders about Clayton’s conduct but also the overall transparency of the board. Her broader concerns with the board include financial processes — a $17 monthly fee for Kansas City water meters installed within the village, even though she alleges that the units were “bought and paid for before they were ever installed,”and a half-cent sales tax increase proposed multiple years ago (that failed via a village-wide vote) but is allegedly being collected by the board.
After requesting the signature forms for the audit petition in May of 2016 by phone, Wilson said she received a response the following morning and that the auditor she spoke to saw “numerous red flags” in information Ferrelview annually submits to the state. The election could change the direction of the board in regards to a lot of matters.
While the Wilsons won two seats, Brooks Moseley — recently appointed to fill a vacancy — has been a strong supporter of Clayton, even prior to garnering his spot on the board. Moseley won re-election to a one-year term.
The new dynamic on the board plus a pending audit could lead to more tensions, which spilled over in the latter half of 2016 with at least a portion of citizenry making its concerns heard. The voices were heard again in this election, showing those who want to make a change have the means if they step up to seek the public service spots.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.