Dayton advisory council appointment stirs controversy

A political storm is brewing in Dayton over the appointment of a representative to the Dayton Regional Advisory Council who was not recommended by that board.

Richard Foley, selected by the DRAC board to represent District 2 after there were no nominations to fill the seat by the October meeting, was not among those appointed by the Lyon County Board of Commissioners.

Instead, in a motion by Commission Chairman Bob Milz, who represents Dayton, Ken Gray was appointed to represent District 2.

"I think it's a new low," Foley said. "I think there's another element here that I think is more disturbing. It's not a personal thing. It's the total disdain that Commissioner Milz has exhibited toward the Dayton advisory council."

Milz said the Dayton board violated its own bylaws in choosing Foley, who had served on the DRAC board from 2000 to 2004.

"They can't nominate anyone after October," he said, adding that in October only nominations for Nancy Sbragia to represent District 1 and Dee Scott to represent District 4 were offered, leaving districts 1 and 2 without representation. "You don't have two elections. They had one in November and one in December."

Both Sbragia and Scott were approved by the commissioners, as was Teri Harris, who defeated Gray and Joe Sawyer in an election Dec. 7 to represent District 3.

Barbara Peck, who has just completed her final term as chairman for the advisory council, disagreed with the commissioner, saying the board actions were in accordance with DRAC bylaws.

"Mr. Foley and I are going to challenge Mr. Milz on this," Peck said. "Nowhere in the bylaws does it say he can do what he did."

Peck said the bylaws allow the board to appoint representatives if there were no nominations for a vacant seat.

"Mr. Gray had been nominated to serve in District 3, while Mr. Foley was unopposed for District 2," she said. "We made a motion on the floor accepting the nomination of Mr. Foley, then held the election for the three candidates in District 3. We went through all the proper channels

"This is taking away our voting rights and our rights as a community," she said. "We did everything we were supposed to do."

Scott, who served on the council in past years, said there had been clashes on issues of growth between Foley and Milz.

"I served with Richard and there's always been a difference of opinion between the two, Milz and Foley, and that had a little to do with it," he said.

Milz denied there was anything personal in his decision and said he was told by the Lyon County district attorney he was on sound legal ground.

"If this results in them having to do it over and treating all four of those people with the same courtesy and not separating them out and treating Richard Foley one way and the other three the other way, I wouldn't have had a problem with them," he said.

Jeff McGowan, deputy district attorney for Lyon County, said he didn't have enough facts to give an opinion on the legality of the appointments.

Gray, a member of the Air National Guard who has lived in Dayton for two years, said he had questions for the board about the election procedures but hadn't planned to protest the decision to the district attorney before Milz appointed him to the board.

"There's no bad intent on anybody's part," he said. "It was just procedural."

Gray said he hoped to take his seat on the board in January.

"Commissioner Milz has asked me to serve and I have accepted that challenge," he said. "I hope to advise the commissioners on smart growth as it pertains to Dayton. That's our primary concern: to get our wishes and concerns to them so they can act accordingly."

-- Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.


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