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Nevada City Council to consider removing Senum’s mayoral title, not seat

The Nevada City Council will discuss the possible removal of Mayor Reinette Senum’s title, but will not seek her removal from the council, multiple city officials said.

During Wednesday’s council meeting, members approved a motion from Vice Mayor Erin Minett to add the discussion of removing or sanctioning Senum to the agenda of their next meeting on Dec. 10.

“I have concerns and I have received public comments about Reinette’s not clarifying that the opinion she expressed regarding multiple city matters are her own and that she was not speaking on behalf of the city or the City Council,” Minett said at the meeting.

Minett also pointed to concerns that Senum has solicited opposition to the wireless facilities ordinance adopted by the City Council in September, and that she represented herself as mayor — without approval of the council members — in doing so.

Minett declined comment Friday when asked whether the agenda item would attempt to remove Senum from her seat on the council or only remove her mayoral title. Each year, Nevada City Council members vote to appoint a mayor among the five people serving. Senum was appointed to her current term as mayor in July.

“Out of respect for the mayor and the other council members I have no further comments at this time,” Minett wrote in an email. “This matter will be dealt with at the council meeting on December 10th.”

Council member Duane Strawser said the move would amount to a public admonishment but would not go further than that.

“We can’t legally remove someone from council,” Strawser said. “All we have in our discretion is to remove titles, committee assignments or censure.”

While the agenda item states the potential censure is for her public statements, Senum said she believes the item is intended to limit her free speech, particularly on the issue of 5G wireless regulation.

“This is unbelievable,” Senum said Thursday. “Other council members have spoken to the media on issues like Amgen (Tour of California cycling race) before; do we need approval every time we speak now?”

Strawser, who has served as the local organizer for the Amgen race, agreed that some issues for the City Council have been become more contentious, in particular implementing 5G regulations. Strawser said the issues have been boiling up and the difficulty of the wireless facilities ordinance brought things to a head.

According to City Attorney Hal DeGraw, such a situation has not before risen during his tenure and the city will look more into the process Monday.

Laurie Bethel, a Nevada City resident who attended Wednesday’s meeting, said the council should be focused on other priorities.

“We and our city are going through some major concerns with fire, with power shutoffs, I can’t believe this is the best use of time,” Bethel said Friday. “I’m blown away by the non-cohesiveness of this council.”

City Clerk Niel Locke said that while the situation is unprecedented and the exact removal or sanction process in unknown, any effort to recall or remove a representative from the council would need to be initiated through a petition signed by Nevada City residents with a three-digit address.

“We have no idea how the process will go,” Locke said. “It’s going to be an interesting meeting on December 10.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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