Lake Park Unable to Remove Controversial Mayor - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Lake Park Unable to Remove Controversial Mayor

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People in Lake Park, Minnesota, are not happy with embattled mayor Aaron Wittnebell. Their frustration surfaced at the city council chambers Monday evening.

Council member: "Residents are asking you to resign, you sit there like water on a ducks back like you have done nothing wrong, why are you sitting in that chair?"

Mayor: "I'm going to keep moving forward."

Council member: "You need to resign."

Mayor: "I am not going to do that."

The trouble started after Wittnebell pleaded guilty to financially exploiting his handicapped sister. Despite calls for resignation, he refuses to resign as mayor and as Valley News Team's Ashley Bishop explains, the city's hands appear tied.

At Lake Park the city council and the residents want to see the mayor resign, but because of the classification of Lake Park as a city there is no state law to provide for a recall election. 

"There is nothing we can do, we're stuck and we don't have a choice. All we can do is work around him," says Lake Park city clerk Lonnie Neuner. 

Neuner says now the council is working to limit his abilities. Wittnebell is no longer able to speak on behalf of the city without council approval. Neuner hopes that Wittenbell will resign because he says he does not see him as an effective leader.

"He would be like an anchor we have to drag along. The council, citizens and staff do not want him around and anything like that would be a negative for the city." says Neuner.

City employees feel the mayor is not looking out for the best interest of Lake Park.

"It is very hard for us employees to trust this individual after what he did and we just don't have respect for him," says Lake Park police chief Jay Nelson.

Valley News Live tried to reach the mayor by stopping by his apartment, but got no answer. We also left him message. The call was returned late in the day, but Wittnebell said he is busy until the end of the week. People in Lake park say they just want to clean up their town's now bruised credibility.

"All we have is our reputation and he has taken that way from us or some of it. He put a bad light on it. It is not a bad town, it is a nice town," says Lake Park resident Dick Skauge.

If Wittnebell refuses to resign as mayor then the city will be stuck with him for the rest of his term which is two and half years. City Leaders say if he is mayor, they do not see the city being able to grow. Wittnebell says he is focused on the future. He says he is writing a letter of response that people in Lake Park should be getting later this month.

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