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McFarland submits letter of resignation
July 02, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
Gering Ward IV city council member Jill McFarland has submitted her resignation. In a letter dated June 27, McFarland said she made the decision to resign after several days away on a personal family trip. “During those two days, it became abundantly clear that I needed to make some changes in my life.” She attached the letter to an e-mail submitted to fellow council members Larry Gibbs, Rebecca Shields, City Clerk Kathy Welfl, and local media.

McFarland was in her third term as a council member in Ward IV. She was to have appeared on the ballot for re-election in November.

“I’ve worked with Jill for a number of years, both as a city employee and as a fellow council member,” said Larry Gibbs, the council’s longest serving member. “We all ran into some problems over the last year, but I’ve always had a good working relationship with her. I’m sad to hear she’s stepping down.”

Gering Mayor Ed Mayo, who hadn’t received McFarland’s letter, said he was unaware of the action when contacted by the media.

“I haven’t seen anything official from her other than what’s been in the media,” Mayo said. “She’s not said anything official

one way or another to the city clerk, the city administrator or me.”

He said he’s emailed and called McFarland directly to see if resigning was indeed her intention because he didn’t want to operate on rumor and conjecture. He has yet to receive a response.

“I really can’t comment without knowing her intention,” he said. “But this is her prerogative if that’s what she wants to do.”

The problems from the last year included contentious discussions over a proposed meatpacking plant for the city. McFarland claimed the city was keeping council members out of the loop.

McFarland had also filed a Code of Conduct complaint against fellow members Dan Smith and city council president Don Christensen. After a review by one of city’s attorneys, no specific violations were discovered. However, the report urged council members to be more open to each other’s opinions and work together in cooperation.

When the city reorganized its committee assignments for council members, McFarland was removed as chair of the Administrative Committee. She claimed it was in retaliation for “blowing the whistle” on the meatpacking deal.

The text of McFarland’s letter reads:

To the citizens of Gering, Nebraska:

I have decided to resign from the Gering City Council and not finish the last five months of my current term. This is one of the most difficult things I have ever done, and it is only with the encouragement of my husband and son that I have been able to make this decision. There are some very compelling personal issues that make this the best course of action at this time.

I can hardly believe it was twelve years ago that I prepared for the first election. And since then I have experienced so many rewarding experiences: working on activities and decisions as simple as a cat leash law or as complex as a new grocery store for Gering; interacting with City staff, volunteers, and other elected officials; but most important, helping to move this community into the future.

I have been honored to serve as the representative for not only Gering Ward IV but for all the residents of Gering. During my many years of service, I have based my actions and decisions on what I understood to be the course of action you, as residents, would choose. I offer my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have stood beside me during the more unpopular times.

I am, and will continue to be, passionate about Gering and the future of this community. It’s a great place to live and getting better all the time!

Jill McFarland

Retired Council Member for Gering Ward IV

On June 29, McFarland posted this message on her Facebook page: “I have received so much support regarding my decision to resign from the Gering City Council. Thanks to all of you for understanding. I leave you in the capable hands of Troy Cowan. I have worked with him over the last two years, and know he will go above and beyond to serve you.”

Cowan, who also serves in Ward IV, wished McFarland the best of luck. “She’s done a good job as a council member and I thank her for her service.”
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