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Evansville mayor resigns, cites issues with clerk

Terry Aasness

The mayor of Evansville has resigned over frustrations with the city clerk, among several other issues.

Terry Aasness resigned at the Evansville City Council meeting Monday, Dec. 11.

City Council member Chuck Steffenson declined an interview, but was willing to go on record to state that the council accepted the mayor's resignation with a vote of 3 to 1. He said he was the only one who voted not to accept the resignation.

Bobbie Batesole, another city council member, was also contacted and also said she did not have a comment at this time. She said that would probably be the standard answer from all the council members. She said the council may make a statement after the January city council meeting, which is slated for Monday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m., at the Evansville City Hall.

According to Evansville City Clerk Diana Olson, city council member Monica Olson, has been serving as the acting mayor and will take over as mayor in January. A decision will be made in January as to what to do with her position on the city council.

In an interview, Aasness said he was frustrated over several incidents during the past few months involving the operations of city hall and the city clerk.

He said a letter regarding tax assessments from a couple in the community that was addressed to him as the mayor and sent to the Evansville City Hall address, was never given to him.

"I don't ever get mail that is addressed to me as mayor," he said, noting that he doesn't understand why this happens so frequently.

The couple talked about the letter at a city council meeting, which was the first time the mayor had heard of such correspondence, he said.

"We (the clerk and council) ended up in a severe discussion over this issue," he said. "It makes me look bad. And that is just one of the reasons I resigned. I have a better reputation than that."

Olson declined to comment about Aasness's resignation.

Aasness shares frustrations

Aasness said he was also frustrated with how a resignation of a city employee was handled and that Olson passed out the employee's letter of resignation to all attending a city council meeting. He said he feels the resignation was a human resource issue and not handled professionally.

Aasness also shared his frustrations over a letter that he said was delivered to City Hall. The letter was addressed "To whom it may concern" and was signed, "Thank you for your time, Concerned Citizen." The letter writer was upset that Aasness supported an illegal immigrant, Julio Estrada Escobar, who has been living and working in Evansville but now faces deportation.

Aasness said the letter was copied and he said that Olson handed it out to everyone at a city council meeting, including the public, which he said was uncalled for. After further discussion with the council members, he thought the letter was a moot issue. However, it ended up in the city council's official minutes, upsetting him.

Lastly, Aasness shared his concerns with how the city handles its budget, stating that he feels the surplus is building up too much. He feels the city's levy could be lowered and "not have to look so serious."

Aasness said there have been many heated discussions the last few months and that "I'm not vulgar, but I get my point across."

He also said he is sad and frustrated with everything that has happened and that he tries to work hard for the citizens of Evansville.

"I just want everyone to know, I am not a quitter. I don't quit, I get done and I am done," he said.

Years of public service

Aasness has been in the Evansville community since 1980. He owns and operates Evansville Machine Shop along County Road 82 in Evansville.

He served four years as a city council member, then six years as the mayor before taking six years off. In 2014, he was again elected mayor and served his first two-year term in 2015 and 2016. He was re-elected at the end of 2016 and was in the middle of another two-year term.

At the end of January, he will celebrate his 35th year with the Evansville Fire Department. During his time on the department, Aasness served several years as the fire chief.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in nearly 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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