Speakers point to city code about officials’ conduct
hree citizens spoke at the Parkville Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday night, each addressing Mayor Nan Johnston’s recent DWI arrest.
One citizen–her campaign committee treasurer–spoke on Johnston’s behalf, in favor of retaining her as mayor, while two asked for the mayor’s removal from office based on a police report that listed her blood alcohol levels above the legal limits of intoxication.
The two who asked for her removal cited the city’s municipal code which states elected officials’ “conduct in both their official and private affairs should be above reproach.”
Elaine Kellerman told the board Johnston “is in violation of this ordinance” based on her arrest. Kellerman said she realizes that board members may have a personal relationship with Johnston but asked them to put personal feelings aside to consider her removal. She said citizens are “watching to see if you will hold her accountable. If the city refuses to publicly address this issue, I will file a complaint with the Parkville Ethics Commission,” she told members during the virtual meeting broadcast live on the city’s Facebook page.
City Attorney Chris Williams later explained the ethics commission has no authority to act and only serves as an advisory body to the board of aldermen.
In addition to the DWI, Kellerman said Johnston has provided the leadership that has resulted in a civil lawsuit filed by Parkville area resident Jason Maki for what he alleges as city officials’ refusal to release some documents he requested under the state’s Sunshine Law, designed to protect government transparency. The lawsuit alleges 59 violations of the Sunshine Law, which could result in a civil penalty of nearly $300,000 upon the city.
Johnston also spoke and said, “I do sincerely apologize to this board, the staff and residents for the embarrassment it caused and am asking for your forgiveness.” Johnston added she has been advised by her attorney not to comment further due to her pending court case on the DWI charges.
Roxsen Koch spoke in favor of retaining Johnston as mayor and said the mayor “constantly looks for opportunities to grow our community” and added that her “strong leadership” has allowed Parkville to grow substantially without losing its charm. Koch claimed some residents have “a personal vendetta” against Johnston although the mayor “supports each of us every day.”
Documents on file with the Missouri Ethics Commission list Roxsen Koch as the treasurer of Nan Johnston’s campaign committee.
John Carter, a former emergency room physician, said he was appalled by information reported by area media outlets that Johnston was driving erratically, crossing the center line just prior to her arrest. He said DWI accidents lead to many lives lost and said he is concerned that Johnston could have a repeat DWI arrest.
Following the citizens’ remarks, attorney Williams answered further questions from board members about the legalities of removing the mayor from office, who posted $1,000 bond on the night of her arrest and has a preliminary court date set in January.
Alderman Dave Rittman asked if Johnston would need to be convicted of DWI for the board to take any action. Williams said the law states her actions would need to interfere with her function as mayor or deem her unable to perform required duties.
Earlier this year, Johnston was found guilty by the Missouri Ethics Commission of violating several ethics laws in her 2019 re-election bid.
In written comments on the city’s Facebook page, Brett Krause, a frequent critic of the way the city is managed, said board members did not discuss or communicate further about the mayor’s DWI. “Note: The board met in executive session prior to this meeting for over an hour, wonder what they discussed?” Krause asked then added, “It appears that without continued pressure from concerned citizens the board will fail to address the mayor’s behavior.”