Sue Knight takes board seat in opposition to music series
When the new Genoa Town Board is seated in January, expect to see Sue Knight.
Genoa Town Manager Paul Williams said three new members — Ed Hoffman, Michael Saffran and Knight will be sworn in at the Jan. 14 town board meeting.
Knight unofficially withdrew from the Genoa Town Board race July 17, too late for her name to be taken off the ballot. She received 68 votes, the second highest for a board seat, and accepted the seat Nov. 18.
“If (Knight’s) seat were vacant, the county commissioners would ask for a recommendation from the town board,” Paul Williams said. “The board would announce the vacancy, and through an application process interview those interested in being considered for the seat. The board would make a recommendation for an appointment.”
At least one Genoa resident was surprised by Knight’s decision to take her seat.
Brian Williams, a three-year Genoa resident, said he had Knight’s word she would not take the position. Based on that, he rounded up a coalition of people to vote for her so she could be replaced by a county-commission appointed replacement.
Brian Williams feared the town board would vote for a second series of the Starlight Amphitheatre at Mormon Station State Park.
Thinking the music series decision would be made in February, Williams, Genoa resident Jack Pettit and others voted for both Sue Knight and Christine Eckhout — who also withdrew from the race but was left on the ballot. The expectation was that Williams and Pettit would be appointed in the womens’ places, Williams said.
“We thought we had no control,” he said. “It was an act of desperation. We thought we had no sympathy from the old board and our hands were tied. It was after the candidate deadline and there is no write-in law.”
However, at the December town board meeting, the Starlight series did not receive enough votes to be approved for a second season.
According to Brian Williams, Knight was in agreement that another person would be appointed.
“I said what we wanted to do was vote for that position with the understanding that she was not going to accept it,” he said. “She had not campaigned, her platform did not appear (in the paper), and she was at (Genoa’s) candidate’s night in the audience but did not get up and present her platform. All the indicators were that she was not running, she was not campaigning and she was too busy to take the position.”
Knight received the letter dated Nov. 14 from Douglas County Clerk-Treasurer Barbara Reed informing her that she could accept or turn down the position.
In a Nov. 18 letter to Reed, Knight says: “I was indeed surprised to hear that I had been elected to the Genoa Town Advisory Board since it was published prior to the election that I was a ‘withdrawn’ candidate. As (such), I assumed it would be a non-issue and that the seat would automatically go to the next highest vote-getter … after careful reconsideration, I am writing to inform you that I would be pleased to accept the elected position, take the oath of office and serve on the board.”
Williams said he visited Knight Nov. 20 to find out why she had accepted the board position.
“She said she had been encouraged by others on the board to take the position,” he said. “I hope she recognizes that people didn’t vote for her, they voted for a platform.”
Martha DeSpain, who voted for Knight on the assumption she would resign, said: “We really thought the risk was minimal, as she so frequently and so publicly said she would not take the seat.”
DeSpain, who retired to Genoa in July but has owned property there for 12 years, thinks Knight may do a good job on the board.
“She’s a conscientious person,” DeSpain said. “We’d like to be assured she’d put forward our platform. The new board might listen more. We’re hoping Sue will be one of those people.”
Knight could not be reached for comment.
“It’s my first election,” said Town Manager Paul Williams. “So I don’t know what’s normal.”
n Maggie O’Neill can be e-mailed at mo’firstname.lastname@example.org