The Alexandria City Council voted 4-0 Monday night to censure Ward 5 council member Todd Jensen for allegedly violating the city’s code of conduct through his angry encounters with the public in person and through social media.
Censuring is a way for the council to express its severe disapproval of Jensen’s behavior. Jensen, who was deer hunting and didn’t attend the meeting, can still vote and participate in meetings. There are three regular council meetings remaining before Jensen’s term expires at the end of the year.
Council members took the action without any more discussion about the issue, which has dominated their meetings for the last two months, at the same time Jensen was campaigning to be Alexandria’s mayor.
The censureship resolution quoted several sections of the code of conduct that Jensen allegedly violated, such as:
Engaging in antagonism or hostility, speaking recklessly, or stirring up divisiveness or controversy.
Not honoring the role of the mayor in maintaining order.
Making personal comments that could offend other council members.
Not being aware of the insecurity of written notes, voicemail messages, e-mail, text messages, “tweets,” and social media.
Not recognizing that even private conversations can have a public presence.
Not recognizing that honesty and respect for the dignity of each individual should be reflected in every word and action taken by them, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The resolution says the city followed the proper steps toward censureship, starting with Mayor Sara Carlson’s attempts to meet privately with Jensen to talk about allegations that were raised against him during the comment period at council meetings. Several people, including Jensen’s estranged daughter, detailed angry exchanges he had with the public, many culled from police reports, some from decades ago, one from this past January.
Previous council coverage:
Jensen declined Carlson’s request, saying the allegations were “not actionable.”
Then at a special meeting on Oct. 26, Jensen had an opportunity to respond to the other council members’ questions about the complaints, but Carlson had to recess the meeting after Jensen repeatedly talked over her and a fellow council member. When the council reconvened, Jensen said he was “not going to be part of this circus sideshow” and left the meeting.
The resolution reaffirmed actions the council took against Jensen at its Oct. 26 meeting, including removing him from all of his council-appointed boards, commissions and committees.
The resolution directs Jensen to abide by the code of conduct “without limitation” in his interactions with the public in person and on social media.
Jensen was elected to the council in 2012. He didn’t file for re-election, deciding to run for mayor instead. On Nov. 3, Bobbie Osterberg, who represents Ward 3 on the council, defeated Jensen, getting 4,459 votes to Jensen’s 2,477.
In a related action, the council voted to appoint Ward 1 council member Bill Franzen to take Jensen’s place on the city’s planning commission on an interim basis.