Lincoln

About 40 people gathered Monday night in the backroom of the Tumbleweed Bar in Lincoln to discuss recent issues concerning the Lincoln City Council.

Jack Dura

As the next meeting of the Lincoln City Council inches closer, residents are taking stock of their situation after a criticized closed meeting.

About 40 people met Monday night at the Tumbleweed Bar & Grill in Lincoln, led in discussion by Brandon Schock, an outspoken resident who said he believes the council's executive session last week regarding a Lincoln police sergeant was improper. 

Discussion largely revolved around what to do between now and the next council meeting. After about two hours of lively discussion, the room decided to gather examples of other grievances with council members while circulating petitions requesting Lincoln City Council members Jon Aman and Karen Daly resign.

A proposed recall of Lincoln City Council President Erv Fischer is apparently on hold until Schock can gather more information from the Secretary of State's Office.

Paul Wilkins, Democratic-NPL chair of District 7, spoke several times, urging residents to assert themselves.

"It's important your voice is heard. That's what democracy is about," he said. "There's strength in numbers."

In addition to last week's closed council meeting, those gathered also raised concerns related to Lincoln's five-member police department, such as increasing crime.

"In my opinion, every penny that goes to that PD is money well spent," said Jaime Leingang, who organized the meeting with Schock.

Schock also addressed what he said is council members communicating among themselves through pricey letters sent from the city's attorney.

No Lincoln City Council members were apparently in attendance, though Leingang said they were invited.

Schock said last week he has no desire to see Lincoln Mayor Gerarld Wise or Lincoln City Councilor Tom Volk go, out of what he said is their genuine community focus.

"I really think the mayor has the best interests at heart," he said.

While those gathered agreed their focus is short-term, they also discussed long-range ideas, such as developing a school system and parks.

Two or three people raised their hand when asked who would be interested in serving on the council, including three-year Lincoln resident Jordan Axtman. 

He said he's raising his family in Lincoln and would like to see his children interested in public service.

"I can't do any more harm, but I could do a lot more good," Axtman said of a potential seat on the council.

Kim Stevenson, also of Lincoln, said she'd like to get to know potential city council candidates so as to avoid electing someone with an unknown agenda.

Lincoln resident Amanda Cavett, who said she has watched recorded council meetings, said she's seen changes in a council member's behavior that concern her. 

"I think all of this is about conduct," she said. 

Wilkins encouraged residents to demand transparency from the city council.

"This is really a pivotal moment for you folks," he said. 

The group plans to meet again around 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Tumbleweed to further discuss the city council. 

The next Lincoln City Council meeting is set for Feb. 8.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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Crime and Courts Reporter