Oronogo Residents Worry That Feud Between Mayor & Police Chief H - KOAM TV 7

Oronogo Residents Worry That Feud Between Mayor & Police Chief Has Hurt City


Residents in Oronogo worry a long-standing feud between two city officials has now hurt the city's well-being.  One Oronogo board of aldermen member says the city's mayor and police chief just can't seem to get along.  City officials say it may be in the city's best interest for both the mayor and police chief to publicly part ways.

Officials and residents in Oronogo say their small city, population about 24-hundred, has a big mess.

"It's just shocking that something like that would happen," says Oronogo resident Vanessa Forcum.

Forcum has lived in Oronogo for the past five years.

"Seems like a quiet town.  Everybody knows everybody," says Forcum.

Almost everybody who lives in a quiet, small town knows the same, unique attributes can cause a downfall.

"The hardest part now is to try to rebuild bridges and find a way for everybody to coexist," says Oronogo Alderman Tyler Christensen.

Christensen has been a city alderman in Oronogo since April, when Oronogo Mayor Jonathan Hart was sworn into office.

"In my opinion, being new, on the outside looking in, there are issues that predate my arrival or the mayor's arrival," says Christensen.

Christensen says the mayor and police chief have been at odds with each other since who knows when.  But things began to culminate in September, when the mayor wanted the board of aldermen to fire the police chief.  The mayor said the police chief showed disregard for public safety by making an illegal u-turn near an elementary school, and crashing into another vehicle.  There were no major injuries.

The police chief has since submitted his resignation to aldermen.  But the story doesn't end there.

"Sounds like bickering.  Like a high school fight," says Forcum.

Aldermen have voted for an impeachment hearing against the major.  Some city officials claim the mayor has been a tyrant.

So, a current police sergeant will become police chief, both Oronogo's board of aldermen and mayor have to get separate attorneys, Christensen says he wants to see evidence that the mayor should be ousted; and in the midst of this all, residents like Forcum are wondering how this all started in the first place.

Forcum asks, "Who's going to want to step-up and take our town to something bigger and better for our kids, if they're going to be constantly attacked or ridiculed or just not getting along?"

The police chief's resignation takes effect this Wednesday and the mayor's impeachment hearing could start in January.

City aldermen say the police chief told them he did not make the u-turn at the elementary school illegally, and he would make that same turn again.  The mayor has used this as further evidence to support his allegation that the police chief disregards public safety.

The police chief and mayor have not returned our phone calls for comment on this story.


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