Get involved and vote

Dear Editor:

I was so shocked when I heard that Keystone Heights’ vice mayor, Christine Thompson, made a move, at the May 6 city council meeting, to oust our new city manager, Charlie Van Zant. I wasn’t at the meeting, so I watched it on YouTube. She must have been so focused on her move that she made it before the council had voted on the first move being discussed.

When asked by another council member what her reason was, she answered, “Just cause.” It was difficult to decipher what that “just cause” was. The discussion that followed between the council and city manager exposed the state of affairs that Mr. Van Zant walked into when he took the job as city manager about four months ago.

After a healthy discussion, workshops were scheduled for budget planning and a general reviewing of the city’s administrative needs.

Mayor Rodenroth described the general state of affairs, in January, before Mr. Van Zant became manager. “There was nobody at the front desk. There was a lot of unhappiness in the community due to poor follow-up, phone calls not returned, people not treated politely when they walked in the door. I heard all kinds of comments.” She went on to say that after Mr. Van Zant took over, there has been a very positive response in the community.

Councilmen Lewandowski and Kussler spoke highly of Mr. Van Zant. Mr. Lewandowski remarked about how hard the manager has been working. When Vivian Katz-James, president of Save Our Lakes Organization, gave her report, she spoke very positively about her work with Mr. Van Zant, that he has been helpful and has represented the city well. The council’s vote was 4 to 1 against the motion, Ms. Thompson’s vote being the only one for.

Vice Mayor Christine Thompson ran unopposed for seat 2 on the Council in 2022. She is serving a three-year term that expires in 2025. It is unfortunate that the city should be jarred by such an unfounded attack on our new city manager. May it encourage residents to take a renewed interest in what is going on in the city, get involved, perhaps seek a seat on the council, and, above all, vote!

Rosemary Hyslop

Keystone Heights