DOVER — The City Council fired Clerk Kym Holbert on Thursday.
The council deliberated behind closed doors for about an hour and half before voting 4-0 to cut her loose. Afraid that the executive session discussion would be overheard, Councilman Dave Darling told members of the public to leave City Hall and wait outside the building.
Council members declined to discuss the basis for Holbert’s dismissal after emerging from the executive session and voting.
However, there appears to be little dispute that a confrontation between Holbert and Councilwoman Annie Shaha factored into the turn of events.
Accounts of the confrontation are contested and vague.
One account holds that Holbert forcibly removed Shaha from City Hall after the councilwoman insisted on preparing the council’s chambers for a reception related to the dedication of the new U.S. Highway 2 bridge last month.
Prior to Thursday’s meeting, Shaha said she was not at liberty to discuss the matter because it was being handled in executive session.
“I certainly have things to say,” she said.
Mayor Randy Curless said he did not witness the confrontation and therefore would not comment on it.
“I wasn’t there so I can’t say,” Curless said prior to Thursday’s meeting.
Curless did say there were opposing accounts of what took place.
Holbert did not attend Thursday’s hearing and does not have a listed phone number.
She did not respond to a request for comment that was channeled through a city official. Holbert’s reported legal counsel also did not respond to a request for comment.
Holbert’s dismissal follows months of rancor at Dover City Hall between long-standing council members and its newer members, who include Shaha and Denise Travis.
Supporters of the new council members contend old-guard city officials have marginalized their new colleagues and repeatedly blocked items from appearing on the council’s agenda. They further allege that Holbert drafted misleading or inaccurate meeting minutes that were calculated to paint veteran council members in the most favorable light.
Supporters of the veteran council members counter that the newer members have harassed and bullied city officials in an effort to get their way, and inundated the city with nuisance public records requests.