Jesse Petrilla, who serves his city as a Councilman and his nation as a Tank Commander in the Army National Guard, will continue in both capacities.
While that statement sounds completely ordinary, Councilman Petrilla recently reported for military training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and as a result, he would have to miss six council meetings. A majority bloc of his colleagues on the City Council saw this as an opportunity to seek political retribution.
In November, Petrilla won his first term on the council because of his soles-on-the-pavement campaign-style and platform that voters believed in. By taking one seat away from the majority, he brought their automatic vote count from 4-1 to 3-2.
In return, they attempted to undermine him by replacing him, even if just temporarily. Fortunately, the attempt caught the attention of the local residents, media, and elected officials across the state, and eventually then PublicCEO, as well.
Since I wrote a scathing open letter last week, I believe it is fair to offer an update to anyone interested.
Instead of needing a replacement for Jesse Petrilla, Mayor Pro Tem Greg Thompson suddenly resigned. While he cited the need to spend more time with his family, it might have seemed preferable to depart on Thursday, rather than show up at a Council meeting and be served with a notice to recall.
Whatever the reason, Thomas’ sudden departure left the Council in danger of being unable to muster a quorum, which would have halted the city’s business entirely.
With the decision having already been made to accept applications for the seat that Petrilla holds, those applications will be considered for Thomas’ old seat. Sometimes, electing members from at-large districts does have its perks.
So the business of the city continues on, just with a different dynamic on the city council. The four-to-one majority of last year now faces the new reality of being a 2-3 minority.
Through it all, Jesse Petrilla proved himself a bigger man than most of us. While his days are being spent in uniform, commanding 67 tons of raw United States military might, we go about our daily business at our desk or in our offices. When we’re done, we close up the computer, and drive home, shouting evil language at the suicidal drivers who lay in wait, trying to ambush us.
Jesse Petrilla? Well, at the end of his day, he climbs down from under a giant gun and begins to rebuild his political relationships with the people who just a few days before had tried to oust him and his voice from the council.
His service to the country and his city should both be honored. The disservice that some on the council tried to perpetrate against him may have failed, but I think it will not soon be forgotten.
I hope that the two remaining members of the now defunct-majority will consider how they will work to regain the trust of a public whose will they nearly undermined. There is a long road between recall and reelection. If a citizens’ group had already organized for recall, now these two men, Jerry Holloway and Tony Beall, must figure out how to bring them into their political fold.