City council votes to remove city manager

NEGUANEE — A 5-2vote at the Negaunee City Council meeting confirmed that City Manager Jeff Thornton would be removed from his position effective March 9.

The annual evaluation of the City Manager was conducted in a closed session at the Negaunee City Council Special Meeting Monday night.

During the session, Mayor Don Gladwell said the council and Thornton mutually agreed upon his removal from the position. A rule in the city’s charter says that a newly elected council would have to wait four months to remove him from his position, but due to the mutual agreement, the motion could pass.

Gladwell said that it was nothing personal nor was it due to a poor evaluation– the council was just moving in a different direction.

“Mr. Thornton did a great job in the City of Negaunee over the years, especially from a fiscal side of things. He came in at a very tough time; came in when we were not sure what would be happening- I don’t want to say we were on the brink of bankruptcy, but we were awfully close,” said Gladwell. “The direction that we were talking about and what the council is talking about more of an economic development. It wasn’t a difference of opinion on how to go about it; they just felt we needed to make a change in order to make it happen.”

But citizens in attendance at the meeting weren’t sold that there were no personal gains in the agreement.

“I want the record to show for the citizen’s of Negaunee that we have a lot of council members that have personal vendettas and agendas,” said Neagunee Resident, and former Negaunee Mayor, Dawn Schuhknecht. “I think this is a personal thing and not based on his performance.”

Thornton will receive his severance package outlined in his employment contract. The council will be looking into advertising for the position in the next few days and hopes to collect applications through next month.