The board met Wednesday morning in the north Lee County office building in Fort Madison. At the top of the agenda was the selection of a Chair/Vice Chair.
There was a time when the vice chair of the Lee County Board from the previous year was “promoted” to chair and the board selected a new vice chair. But the supervisors did away with that practice years ago.
As the process got underway this year, Matt Pflug of Keokuk nominated Gary Folluo, who seconded his own nomination as chair.
Prior to the vote on the nomination, Rick Larkin of Fort Madison said “for obvious reasons, I cannot support this.” Larkin did not explain the “obvious reasons” during the public meeting, nor did Ron Fedler of West Point, who said he agreed with Larkin.
That left the deciding vote in the hands of Rich Harlow of Montrose, who only a few minutes prior had taken the oath of office to join the board. Harlow said he knew he could be the swing vote on the board, with two supervisors from north Lee County and two from south Lee County.
This time, he backed Folluo and cast the third vote for him to be chair.
“I think it’s his turn,” said Harlow. “I think it’s Gary Folluo’s turn to take on the position of chairman. He’s experienced. He’s been a supervisor… so I think it’s his turn.”
Folluo said he did not expect to be named chair when he arrived for the meeting.
“Surprised actually… by the vote… I think you know why,” said Folluo. “But very pleased. It’s been ten years.”
Folluo was elected chair in 2009, his first year on the board. In fact, he’s the first resident of Keokuk to chair the board since 2012 when Janet Fife-LaFrenz held the title.
During a break for lunch, Folluo stopped Harlow in the hallway outside the board room, extended his hand and thanked Harlow for his vote.
It was during that same break that Larkin spoke to Tri States Public Radio about his vote against Folluo’s nomination.
Larkin and Folluo have served together for the last decade. And Larkin said he voted against the nomination because he does not trust Folluo.
“You know, if someone works against you most of the time, and then you are supposed to come in and vote for him to be chair, that’s… that’s kinda hard for me,” said Larkin.
Larkin said, for example, hebelieves Folluo was involved with a lawsuit in 2014 that claimed Larkin and other board members violated Iowa’s open meetings law. Folluo was not listed as a party in the lawsuit, which was ultimately dismissed.
Larkin said despite his distrust, he can work with Folluo. And he will have to as Larkin was elected Vice Chair for 2019.