Willoughby Hills residents, elected officials splinter amid rising tensions

Willoughby Hills residents, elected officials splinter amid rising tensions

WILLOUGHBY HILLS, OH (WOIO) - It was a loud and raucous meeting in the Willoughby Hills council chambers on Thursday night as multiple issues were debated.

Community divided: Chaos breaks out at Willoughby Hills city council meeting

At one point, two residents had to be separated before coming to blows.

First the back story: Just over a week ago, Willoughby Hills Mayor Robert Weger fired six of seven council members, but a judge issued a temporary restraining order, allowing the council members to return to work.

That drama led to animosity between supporters of the mayor and council, and it carried right into the meeting.

The meeting was designed to be a community forum on charter amendments that a majority of council supported that put the issues, nine of them, onto the November ballot.

But, the charter amendments have actually turned some supporters of council in their political battle with the mayor against each other, and that debate turned contentious.

The charter amendments will, if approved at the polls, give council the power, through a majority, to fire city administrators, including the mayor.

“They’ve taken away the mayor’s ability to fire them and given themselves the ability to fire the mayor,”

One resident remarked from the podium during public comments.

Tension was high all evening, at least two people were led out of chambers by police.

Near the end of the evening, the daughter of council member Laura Lenz came to the podium in tears, “I am really proud of my mother for everything she’s done, and I’d hate for her to be fired twice.”

Willoughby Hills council will host another community forum on Oct. 25, just before voters head to the polls on what seems, at least, like a referendum on who will hold the power in Willoughby Hills.

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