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Council Woman: No Conflict in Vote on $15,000 Loan to Save Historic House

Ward 6 Representative Tracy Wallach not involved with Kent Wells-Sherman House group at time of vote on city loan to help restore, relocate house

A Kent councilwoman who voted June 20 to loan city money to an effort to has become closely involved with a group formed around the effort.

Just days ago, Ward 6 representative Tracy Wallach became a member of the board of directors of the group, called Kent Wells Sherman House Inc., and acted on the group’s behalf to incorporate with the state.

On Wednesday, Wallach bowed to questions raised by opponents of the restoration plan by abstaining from a vote on a routine appropriations ordinance that included making $15,000 available in the city budget for the loan.

Concerns about the councilwoman's connection to the group surfaced this week when a supporter of, the group that to a lot adjacent to its gallery, questioned Wallach's association with Kent Wells Sherman House, Inc.

Standing Rock supporter Lisa Regula Meyer emailed Mayor Jerry Fiala questioning whether Wallach would abstain from council action related to the house relocation effort.

"If anything comes up with the Wells Sherman House I will excuse myself," Wallach told Kent Patch before the meeting.

Kent Law Director Jim Silver said Wallach did nothing illegal or improper by taking a leading role with the group after voting for the city loan.

"It looks like it, but if she is not getting any money back from that connection it's not a problem," Silver said. "As long as she is just volunteering her time there's no problem with that."

Other members of council supported Wallach, emphasizing she did nothing illegal in her June 20 vote.

At-large Councilman Robin Turner said the law clearly states Wallach can vote on such an issue as long as neither she, nor a family member, directly receives money as a result.

"It's not like she's deriving any personal benefit from it," Turner said. "I don't see any conflict of interest at all."

Wallach said she’s aware that residents might raise questions about her June 20 vote and plans to abstain on any further action before council related to the issue.

"I believe the importance of restoring the house is so vital that I'm willing to take the hit," she said of the initial vote.

Since that vote, supporters of restoring the house formed the Kent Wells Sherman House, Inc., to take over the project. Some members of TransPortage opposed managing the project on the grounds it violated the group's mission statement.

"I was not involved in any committees when that (council vote) happened," Wallach said. "I didn't get involved until last week."

Ian Jones July 13, 2012 at 01:49 AM
I wish Kent Wells-Sherman House Inc. all the best in preserving this historic home that is not only architecturally unique for the city, but also so strongly tied to significant historic members of Kent's community.
Fred Pierre July 13, 2012 at 06:03 AM
Here's to saving both the house and the green space! If we weren't in such a rush, we would find a great solution that would actually improve our town. Haste makes waste!
Brian July 17, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Tina, I have read all of the articles and associated comments regarding this dispute. My comment was made in response to the totality of the tenor conveyed by both sides. I was not addressing anything in particular that you said. Both sides' advocates (official, supporter, or troll) have not always played nice. It was a "gentle" reminder for some of the participants that are not being 100% truthful. They know who they are and what they have said.
Tina Puckett July 17, 2012 at 03:24 PM
I understand and it's a good point.
Delores Umbridge July 25, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Hmmm... So Ms. Wallach is not on the board of Kent Wells Sherman House, but her address is used on their incorporating papers, and their website? And she then makes the motion on July 18th to grant the loan to the brand new organization that resides at her address? Interesting...

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