August 13, 2009

Presiding County Commissioner Mike Stephenson Announces Resignation

The divisive issue of a county health ordinance to regulate concentrated animal feeding operations has pitted neighbors against neighbors in Scotland County and now it has taken its toll on the county government.

Following a heated debate with a member of the Scotland County Concerned Citizens Group the day after the election, Presiding Commissioner Mike Stephenson officially announced his resignation at an August 10th meeting of the county commission.

Stephenson had drawn the ire of proponents of the health ordinance after he had publicly stated his opposition to reinstating the law following its repeal by the commission.

“A lot of the conflict surrounding this issue has been targeted at me,” Stephenson said. “If I get out of the way, hopefully our community can move on from this issue.”

Under Stephenson’s direction, the commission began working on a new health ordinance on August 5th, the day after the election with plans to have the new policy in place in two weeks or less. A small number of citizens was present during the commission meeting at the time the incident took place.

The official minutes state only that a heated debate took place between Stephenson and Garth Lloyd, a resident of rural Scotland County.

“Today is my last day,” Stephenson announced at the August 10th meeting.

The presiding commissioner will utilize his remaining leave time before the resignation officially takes effect September 30th.

County Clerk Betty Lodewegen indicated that an interim presiding commissioner will eventually be appointed by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. The Republican and Democrat county committees will submit a candidate for the vacancy. Lodewegen noted that individuals may also submit their name directly to the governor’s office for consideration. Anyone interested in the process can contact the clerk’s office.

Stephenson has served on the Scotland County Commission for the past 23 years.

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