John Winterringer to serve remainder of term as Ward 5 Commissioner.
No action was taken during Monday night’s City Commission meeting regarding John Winterringer’s Ward 5 Commission seat, meaning he will serve the remainder of his term.
“I knew I would have to be strong either way,” Winterringer said. “I’m excited to still be here.”
Winterringer confirmed earlier he is currently staying at his parents’ home, located in Ward 1, to assist them but only temporarily because he still owns his own home in Ward 5.
During citizen participation, two citizens came forward to voice their opinions about the agenda item regarding Winterringer’s position.
Kate Joyce, executive director of Shawnee Senior Center, spoke about Winterringer’s dedication to helping his parents and how important it is to them that he be there to support them.
“To make somebody step down if they don’t want to…is a really terrible thing to do,” she said.
Joyce said the fact that his living situation is temporary should not cause him to lose his seat.
“I hope you get to hang with us,” she told Winterringer.
Commissioner Keith Hall requested a discussion and possible action be added to Monday night’s meeting.
“I had a couple of different citizens ask me if I had heard the rumor John had moved out of his ward,” Hall said.
He said he wanted to talk about the issue at a public forum instead of leading citizens to believe the commission was trying to hide something.
“John is a fantastic city commissioner,” Hall said. “He represents the city very well.”
Hall said if Winterringer said he’s moved out of his house temporarily, he believes him.
“If he knew it was going to be permanent, I know that John would resign his office,” He said.
Hall said he wanted the citizens to know the situation and to know that Winterringer is still a commissioner.
Commissioner Pam Stephens said she fully supports Winterringer and has been in similar circumstances where she had to stay away from her home for a temporary amount of time to help someone.
“That was a temporary situation because it was what I had to do to take care of my family,” she said.
She added, speaking to Winterringer, “I find what you’ve done commendable.”
In response to Stephens comment, ‘Amen’ was heard from a citizen.
Commissioner Linda Agee said she wanted people to know that she looked at the situation ‘very objectively’ by referring to the city’s charter.
“The charter is very clear that a city commissioner must reside in the ward,” she said.
Agee added the gray area with the charter is the definition of a residence.
She said she referred to the election board and said, “Even the election board struggles with this.”
Agee said in the case with Winterringer, the commission needed to give him ‘the benefit of the doubt.’
“Commissioner Winterringer is to be commended for the time that he has served on the commission and his desire to continue in that capacity,” she said.
Winterringer said he appreciated the remaining Commissioners voicing their opinions.
“My mother’s doing a great job,” he said. “She doesn’t really need me, but I’m there.”
Mayor Wes Mainord also told Winterringer he should be commended for what he’s done for his parents.
“You need to do that because, you know what, that time is valuable with him,” Mainord said to Winterringer, adding Winterringer’s mother needs ‘a little free time.’
“I’m looking forward to the day when our citizens assume that we’re trying to do the right thing as opposed to doing the wrong thing,” said Hall, reminding citizens the item was added only to inform them of the situation.
“I can understand though why when we put something on the agenda like this, people are going to have a lot of different ideas going through their heads,” he said. “We’re all trying to do what’s best for the city.”
Commissioner James Harrod said when he first heard the rumors about Winterringer’s living situation, he went straight to him but didn’t know the type of pressure he was under.
“When he says it’s a temporary situation, that’s good enough for me,” he said.
Winterringer said he didn’t know what to expect at Monday night’s meeting but he feels good about the results.
“I know I would have to be strong either way,” he said. “I’m excited to still be here.”
Winterringer confirmed earlier he is currently staying at his parents’ home to assist them but only temporarily.