Sexton chosen mayor pro tem following debate

ALPENA -The Alpena Municipal Council voted 3-2 to appoint councilman Shawn Sexton mayor pro tem for Mayor Matt Waligora, but to do so only after some debate and politicking.

Councilwoman Susan Nielsen nominated Sexton and newly seated Cindy Johnson seconded the nomination, which opened the selection up for discussion. Waligora began by expressing his concern about having Sexton as pro tem because of a turbulent history between the two. He said he believes it is important to have a council member who he is able to confide in and have full faith in.

“I think it is well known that we don’t have the best track record and I think everyone knows there have been times where I have questioned his conduct during these meetings,” Waligora said. “But if it is the wish of the council I will surely work with him. I think it is easier if you have a good working relationship and obviously Shawn and I have not communicated well at times.”

Nielsen said she believed Sexton was the logical choice because three of the five council members have been on the council less than two years. She said having someone who knows the ropes is needed to assist Waligora when necessary.

“He is experienced, he has a good education and he certainly knows how to run our meetings,” Nielsen said. “He knows all of us and has experience working with all of us. I think he is well qualified and I would hope the rest of the council would feel the same.”

Johnson, who played a role in the attempted recall of Waligora in 2012, said Sexton’s knowledge of the city and intergovernmental procedure was why she believed he was the best person to be mayor pro tem.

“We are a pretty young council and Shawn has been on for a long time. He has the experience that some of us don’t,” Johnson said.

Waligora sent emails to council explaining his desire for Councilman Mike Nowak to be the pro tem. Nowak made a case for himself before the vote took place.

“My goal is to make a positive difference in the life of everyone in Alpena and I appreciate the confidence the mayor has in me,” Nowak said. “I know how to run meetings and I have had a year to get settled in, so I feel I’m qualified for the position as well.”

Nowak and Waligora voted against Sexton’s nominations, with Johnson, Sexton and Nielsen voting “yes.” Sexton said he is confident he and Waligora can put past disagreements behind them and be professional moving ahead.

“Former Mayor Carol Shafto had a young council once and named Dave Karschnick as the pro tem,” Sexton said. “I think that anyone that knows the history knows they did not get along or see eye to eye, but they were able to work together and I think for the best.”

In other business:

* Johnson and Sexton took their oath of office before the meeting.

* Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Director Jim Klarich presented Target Alpena’s 2013 report.

* the city entered into a contract with Alpena County for ambulance service.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at