In a surprising move within a minute of the regular meeting adjourning last night, Mahoning Township Supervisor Travis Steigerwalt requested the floor, slammed his packet of papers down on the table and announced he was quitting.
"I resign. I joined the military. I quit!" he said before storming out the door.
His walkout left the remaining two supervisors without a quorum to close the meeting and also cancelled an executive session which Steigerwalt requested to discuss personnel matters related to two police officer candidates.
Just minutes before the surprise announcement, during the officials portion of the meeting, Steigerwalt disagreed with the board's decision to interview two part-time police officer candidates whose applications were already on file. Chairperson John Wieczorek said the department was paying too much overtime and he wanted to get some part-time officers hired as soon as possible.
"I think we should start with these two before we advertise for more," he said.
Officer-in-charge Audie Mertz reviewed the two applicants, one of whom was a township resident, and performed background checks as per the board's authorization at the previous meeting. The information was given to supervisors prior to the meeting.
Steigerwalt said he would not vote in favor of either candidate, but did not cite a particular reason for his decision. At the past few meetings, he was critical of Mertz' previous refusal to do background checks for the police chief who is on medical leave, and then volunteered to do them for these candidates. Interestingly however, Steigerwalt praised the background checks Mertz did on the two candidates for whom he refused to vote.
Steigerwalt made a motion to advertise for more candidates but neither Wieczorek nor Supervisor Linda Benner would second the motion. Supervisor Frank Ruch was absent from the meeting, while Supervisor Bruce Steigerwalt had to leave before the police business.
When the motion failed for a lack of a second, Steigerwalt accused Wieczorek of contradicting himself by saying he wanted more candidates than just two and yet refused to advertise for additional officers.
Wieczorek responded to Steigerwalt's accusation.
"You only hear what you want to hear," he said. "I want to interview these two first before looking for more."
The discussion ended at that point and the focus moved to each of the other officials who normally offer their issues and input at the conclusion of the meeting. When Wieczorek had polled each official for comment and was preparing to adjourn the meeting, Steigerwalt interrupted him asking, "John, I didn't get to speak during the officials' section."
"You started the officials off Travis," Wieczorek said, "Do you have something else to offer? Then the floor is yours."
Steigerwalt said, he did, and then stood up and in a raised voice yelled at Benner and Wieczorek before slamming the papers down and announcing he was quitting. There was silence in the room after the sudden and surprising outburst.
Wieczorek asked solicitor Tom Nanovic how to close the meeting since he and Benner were the only two left.
Nanovic said he was not sure, but since there was no longer a quorum, no further business could be discussed. In addition, that ended the executive session which Steigerwalt requested as well. The meeting simply stopped and everyone began to leave.
Steigerwalt left the grounds and was not available after the meeting for questions.