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Published: Tuesday, 4/8/2008

Petition drive aims to oust McClure s mayor

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Dawson Dawson
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McCLURE, Ohio An effort is under way to unseat the mayor of this Henry County village for placing residents safety at risk by refusing to appoint new police officers and getting in the way of officers doing their jobs.

If he can t think of what s best for the town, then somebody else can, said Tommie Zervos, a single mother who helped to start the petition drive.

While some residents say their problems with Mayor Dean Dawson have festered for a while, things came to a head at last month s council meeting when the mayor refused to swear in three new auxiliary officers without giving a reason. The auxiliary officers are paid $2 a year and work 24 hours per month as a way of maintaining their peace officer certification.

Council member Linda Thomas, who heads the police committee, said the mayor has tried to defeat everything that we re trying to do for the good of the community, and there is no reasoning behind what he s doing. Every time I ask him for a reason, his answer is because I said so, because I don t want to.

Mr. Dawson, who was just elected to his second term, said he is not trying to get rid of the police department, although he believes the need for it is exaggerated.

I get a lot of feedback from people from within the community and from outside the community, and it has a reflection on the community, he said. Instead of giving the impression that by having so many police officers they re cleaning it up, they re leaving the impression there s something really ugly. It s just a small community.

There s a lot of good people. I m sure some deserve police action, but it s very, very few. I think it s exaggerated.

The department has a full-time chief, Miguel Trevino, and a full-time officer, Sgt. Todd Sowers, who also is trained to work with Tonka, a police dog purchased by Chief Trevino.

Village Council authorized having up to nine auxiliary officers, but the village has just two, the chief said.

When he was hired two years ago, Chief Trevino said council members told him they wanted to slow down traffic in town and address the alleged sale of drugs in the community.

Supporters of the effort to remove the mayor say they can t understand why anyone wouldn t want extra police protection at $2 per year.

He refused to give us a reason, first-year Councilman Paul Gray said. He said, I m the mayor and that s it. The man has abused his power, his authority.

Mr. Gray said he signed both the petition to remove the mayor from office and a second one that demands Mr. Dawson fill the vacant auxiliary police positions.

The petition for removal from office, which requires 38 signatures before it can be submitted to Henry County Common Pleas Court for a hearing, accuses Mr. Dawson of obstruction of justice, coercion, intimidation, abuse of power, neglect of duty, and misconduct in office.

It claims the mayor went looking for an officer and sent him home while the officer was conducting an investigation, that he exposed undercover agents at the corner tavern, that he instructed an officer to back off an investigation, and that he has refused to carry out duties that Village Council directed him to perform.

Dean Dawson acts as if he were a strong mayor when in fact the village of McClure has a weak-mayor system where the legislative body decides policy and the mayor is to carry out said policies, the petition states.

Karla Sexton, a former council member, had considered starting a petition to remove the mayor when she heard another group had beaten her to it.

She said she wants McClure to have police officers in town so they can respond quickly when there s a problem, so they can deal with the alleged drug activity, and so they can police vehicular traffic along U.S. 6 and State Rt. 65, which intersect in McClure, a village of 761 people.

The biggest thing for me with him is that he is totally dead-set against the police department, she said.

Mayor Dawson said he will see what happens next.

If they don t want me, I ll hang it up, he said. The problem is they re going to create the problem all over again. I seem to have a fair amount of support for my decisions other than I ve got a couple, three council members opposed to me, and several people in town align themselves with those council people.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:jfeehan@theblade.comor 419-353-5972.



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