Murphys Sanitary District Board President Patricia Davies stepped down last week, marking the end of a tumultuous half-year stint at the head of the sewer board.
Wednesday’s move, the fifth board resignation in little more than a year, comes just months after accusations of board mismanagement and conflicts of interest ended then-president Cynthia Trade’s board tenure in April.
The end of Davies’ term was characterized by similarly fraught circumstances, including allegations surrounding her reappointment by “secret ballot” vote in 2010.
Davies’ ownership of the sewer district’s offices on 90 Big Trees Road has become another bone of contention in recent weeks, drawing criticism from, among others, former board president Beth Hartline.
Davies, who earns $350 a month under her tenant-landlord relationship with the district, played down that controversy.
“I own the (district office) building,” she said Friday. “I know that’s always been kind of an issue and I think that was always maybe in the back of (board members’) heads.”
District Counsel Ken Airola has defended both Davies’ 2010 reappointment and her leasehold interest with the district – one he said did does not constitute a conflict of interest “because the lease was in existence before (Davies) became a director.”
Davies stopped short of saying those criticisms pushed her out of the president’s seat, though she admitted concerns surrounding the lease left her feeling some pressure to move on.
“Yeah I felt pressure (to resign),” she said. “It wasn’t anything specific, it was (the office lease) and a few others things.”
“I have no idea why there’s so much (district) turnover,” she added. “But I have my suspicions.”
Board Vice President Fred Kett was surprised by Davies decision, but, as a former board president he sympathized with her reasoning.
“I didn’t see it coming,” Kett said last week. “But she and a couple of directors had different directions to go.”
“That’s nothing against her,” he added. “But I think it was probably a good move on her part.”
Kett, who takes over Davies’ duties on an interim basis this week, said he would be interested in taking the reins of a second term as board president.
“I am interested in staying because (former general manager Julio Guerra) was here and getting things done,” he explained. “I’m retired. I can spend time during the day to help out with some of the things we’re behind on.”
Guerra, another recent resignee who now works as a part-time district contractor, cited workplace stress among his reasons for stepping down from a managerial position in late August. He could not be reached for comment as of press time Monday.
According to Kett, directors have not given an indication as to whether they will appoint a new board member before district elections in December. He expects board members will touch on the matter at a regularly scheduled board meeting Wednesday.