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Apology resolves officials' conflict

June 03, 1997

By ELLEN LYON

Staff Writer

KEEDYSVILLE - A conflict between Keedysville's newest councilman, James R. Kerns, and several residents was briefly resurrected and then resolved with an apology at Monday night's Town Council meeting.

Town resident Anne Leffler asked Kerns to apologize for his behavior at the last council meeting on May 5.

She had made the same request in a May 6 letter to the mayor and Town Council which accused Kerns of an "ignominious, unprovoked verbal attack" on his predecessor on the council, Yvonne Hope, and his opponent in the May 3 election, Frank Shifflet, during discussion of some town issues at the May meeting.

Kerns said in a May 13 Herald-Mail article that he apologized for the way he spoke at the meeting but said he was defending town officials against false statements that had been made during the election.

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When Leffler repeated her request for an apology Monday night during the public comment period, Mayor Ralph Taylor told her "you're out of order right now."

Leffler shot back "I am not out of order. I am requesting that Mr. Kerns offer me an apology."

Kerns said he apologized for the manner in which he had expressed himself.

"I do sincerely apologize and I think once you get to know me you'll find I'm a hard-working, dedicated individual," he said. "I fully intend to work with everyone in this community. I would like to put it all behind us and go forward."

But what happened at the May meeting "was not entirely my fault and it was not without some provocation," Kerns said.

"It was just a bad thing that it happened and it needs to go away," Hope said. "You people are up there to represent us, not to put us in our place."

Leffler said town officials need to follow the democratic process.

"I think this is the democratic process. We were all elected. We're doing the best we can," Councilman Lee Brandenburg said. "Let's just stop it. Let it go."

Town resident Barbara Wyand said the bickering makes the town look bad.

But Leffler disagreed. "Passion ignites participation and that's what this town needs," she said. "We need the townspeople to get out here and participate in their government."

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