Laurie Clark, a member of the Monument Board of Trustees, was criticized at last week’s town hall meeting for comments she allegedly posted to the social networking website Nextdoor during the November election. In the alleged comments, Clark urged voters to elect then-candidate Ann Howe to fill the board’s vacant trustee seat.
Kenneth Kimple, a member of the planning commission who ran against Howe, accused Clark of inappropriately trying to sway the election by claiming that Kimple and other candidates were not qualified.
“I am not intimidated by you or anyone else,” Kimple said during the meeting. “You used social media to push your agenda by inaccurately telling people that two of the candidates were not qualified.”
Jim Romanello won the election and will take the oath of office at the board’s regular meeting Monday. Kimple asked Clark how she intends to work with Romanello after claiming he was inexperienced.
Kimple provided the board members and The Tribune with copies of the statements he accused Clark of posting on Nextdoor. In the comments, which Clark has not authenticated, she wrote that Howe was the “only experienced candidate.” In another comment, Clark said Howe would clean up corruption in Monument’s finances if elected to serve on the Board of Trustees.
Clark said her comments were her own personal opinions and that she was exercising her freedom of speech.
“Certain qualifications that I was looking for were not apparently present in some of the people that were running,” Clark said at the meeting.
Clark said her comments were not made on behalf of the Board of Trustees.
“My personal thoughts had nothing to do with anyone here on the board,” she said at the meeting. “I was not speaking or writing in any capacity for the Town.”
In a separate interview with The Tribune, Kimple said Monument’s public officials must put aside their personal beliefs in the interest of making Monument a better place to live. He said public officials should be careful that their personal comments aren’t misinterpreted as representing Town Hall’s official stance on an issue. The problem, Kimple said, is that Clark waited until after the fact to explain that her comments on Nextdoor did not represent the Board of Trustees.
The Board of Trustees has been gridlocked for several months on topics related to water infrastructure, housing development and staffing. Romanello’s election to the vacant seat means the board is complete with all seven of its members. With most decisions requiring a majority vote, 3 to 3 splits will be a thing of the past. Kimple said the gridlock put politics before Monument’s residents.
“It’s been gridlocked because there are members on the Board of Trustees that have agendas instead of focusing on what is best for the Town,” Kimple said.
In a text message to The Tribune, Clark said she denies Kimple’s accusations.
“I will have my attorney answer any questions regarding … Mr. Kimple’s false statements made this evening,” she wrote. “My attorney will be in contact with him as well.”