Resignation marks third exodus of a West Liberty city council member in as many months
West Liberty, Iowa – West Liberty Mayor Katherine McCullough announced her resignation as mayor yesterday during a West Liberty City Council meeting, effective at 12:01am this morning.
“I don’t have the right fight in me to do what needs to be done,” Mayor McCullough said when announcing her resignation.
West Liberty has been gridlocked all year in a battle between reform advocates on the city council and entrenched conservative interests on the city staff around urgent issues like pandemic relief for excluded workers and the future of the city’s fire department.
A group of 30 or more immigrant workers attended last night’s meeting and spoke during public comment to demand utility relief from high electricity bills and pandemic relief for workers who did not receive a federal stimulus check in 2020 or 2021.
It is unclear if Mayor Pro Tem Dana Dominguez was elevated to the position of city mayor after the resignation or not. Former Mayor McCullough stated during her resignation announcement that she was appointing Cara McFerren as mayor pro-tem.
The resignation marks the third resignation by a city councilor in the last three months following heated debates around the fire department and excluded workers fund. On both issues, city staff have appeared to dominate the city’s decision-making process.
Former Mayor McCullough had previously told the Iowa Capital Dispatch that city staff ran the show in West Liberty without consulting her or other elected officials.
“As mayor, I have been struggling with my city staff keeping me informed about — well, about anything, really,” she said on September 14, after the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported that West Liberty had hired a disgraced police officer who had been fired from the city of Marion for dishonesty.
Essential and excluded immigrant workers in West Liberty continue to press their campaign for a $522,000 American Rescue Plan investment in stimulus checks for excluded workers and across-the-board utility relief for all West Liberty households.
City staff have consistently done everything they can to torpedo the initiative, raising questions about who really makes the decisions in West Liberty, the democratically elected city council, or an unaccountable bureaucracy made up of old-guard white conservatives who have traditionally opposed integration efforts with the city’s growing immigrant population.