Aldermen issue statement about mayor’s arrest, residents react
n a public statement, the Parkville aldermen for the City of Parkville reacted to Mayor Nan Johnston’s Sept. 26 arrest for DWI, in which they said they were disappointed in her actions. But some residents have voiced concern that the letter stopped short of calling for the mayor’s resignation, as some publicly have requested.
The statement also did not address if the board would take any action against the mayor. Some citizens have suggested that the matter could be taken up by the Parkville Ethics Commission.
When asked about residents who called for Johnston’s resignation, Alderman Brian Whitley said, “You can’t force people to resign.”
Whitley also commented the lack of further information in the board’s public statement does not necessarily mean there will be no future action.
“That’s where we are right now and if new information comes out, we’ll issue press releases,” he said in a telephone interview late Monday. “There’s due process and you have to let things play out,” he said, referring to pending legal charges against Johnston in the DWI arrest.
On Tuesday night, KCTV-5 played portions of audio and video of Johnston’s actions during her car stop and resulting arrest. That report can be viewed here: https://www.kctv5.com/news/local_news/parkville-mayor-dwi-arrest-revealed-on-dashcam-video/article_aaa9f21a-0dbd-11eb-bec0-3b6976228362.html
Earlier this year, Johnston was found guilty of several violations of campaign finance law by the Missouri Ethics Commission. The violations involved Johnston’s campaign committee in her re-election as mayor in 2019.
The written statement, issued on the city’s Facebook page and signed by each board member, reads: “The sincere apology from the Mayor at this week’s Board of Aldermen meeting.is a start,” and added that any pending charges that may result from her arrest “is something that is being dealt with in the legal process.”
Johnston’s Lexus was stopped by a Platte County Sheriff’s Department deputy about 1:15 a.m. on Sept. 26. Following a field sobriety test and a portable breath test that revealed her blood alcohol level was above the legal limit, she was arrested and released after posting a $1,000 bond, according to a police report.
Johnston made a cell phone call to Parkville Police Chief Kevin Chrisman before complying with the officer’s request to exit her vehicle for the sobriety test, the report stated.
Whitley said the board’s statement, which was posted this past Friday, represented the last time the board met and was, therefore, up to date. When asked if the mayor’s actions would be presented for review to the Parkville Ethics Board, Whitley said he was “going to hold my comments at least at this time.”
The board of aldermen is next scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20. The public board meetings are live streamed on the city’s Facebook page.
Other residents have been frequent defenders of the mayor, stating she has provided strong leadership that has allowed Parkville to grow without losing its historic charm. Roxsen Koch told the board at the last meeting, held Oct. 6, that some people have a personal vendetta against the mayor, leading to attacks on her character.
Elaine Kellerman, a resident who also spoke at the meeting earlier in October, sent a letter to the aldermen that had this warning: “If the city of Parkville and the Board of Aldermen refuse to publicly discuss and mindfully consider the mayor’s arrest, especially in light of her previous ethics violations (for illegal and non-disclosed campaign contributions), I will file a complaint with Parkville’s Ethics Commission asking for her removal from office,” she wrote.
Brett Krause, Parkville resident, said he supports Kellerman’s plan to report the mayor’s actions to the ethics board. In addition, he praised The Landmark for its reporting of the issues.
“The only way we’re going to get transparency and accountability is to make people aware of the issues,” he said during a Tuesday morning telephone interview.
One Parkville resident said he is disappointed in the board’s written statement.
“They’re not addressing the issue,” Dr. John Carter said during a Monday afternoon telephone interview, citing a lack of information about whether the board plans to pursue action or request Johnston’s resignation. He said the behavior of those who hold elective office is required to be “above reproach,” according to city code. The physician added that his license would be in jeopardy if he were similarly arrested. “The mayor may not be treating patients but (elected officials) must be able to make decisions 24-7. and must be in their right mind,” he said. “Don’t run for office if you can’t live up to the requirements of that office.”
Carter also said the board’s statement neglected to address Johnston’s lack of cooperation with the arresting officer.
“Most people, when arrested, follow what the officer says to do,” he said, calling the mayor’s cell phone call to the Parkville police chief “not normal under any regards.” Carter said he would like more information about the purpose of the call and asked, “Was she trying to get out of it?”
Carter said of pending legal charges: “There’s a good chance the mayor’s going to get off. I guarantee you,” Because her actions did not result in an accident, “nothing bad happened-no one died,” but Carter said he would like to know the percentage of those who are stopped for driving while intoxicated are repeat offenders.
“I’d like to know the recidivism rate,” he said, adding that no charges or other repercussions could signal “you’re condoning this behavior” and he fears a lack of accountability could have tragic consequences. He said, “It may come back to haunt them.”