Warrenton city councilor Sean Polster (in general) resigned as deputy mayor on December 14, citing the fallout from misleading claims he did over city government before the Warrenton Christmas Parade. Council members appointed Polster to the post of vice-mayor by 6 votes to 1 in July 2020. First elected in 2014, Polster will continue to occupy one of the two seats on the general city council.
“At West Point, and most of the service academies, they have a code of ethics,” Polster said in a statement announcing his resignation at the city council meeting last week. “A caddy will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do. And they are required to declare themselves. So, I think that just as we have a code of ethics, I also have to hold myself accountable and at a higher level, especially as a deputy mayor. And that I did not manage to do.
The Christmas parade controversy stems from Polster’s role with first responders Mutual Aid, the organization responsible for last year’s WARF parade and this year’s parade in the Old Town. Polster, along with Nicole Polster and Fauquier County Fire Chief Darren Stevens, are the only directors of the nonprofit, according to crown corporation records; the organization is now registered at Polster’s address in Warrenton.
Polster said in March 2020 that the association was created to raise funds to provide meals to at-risk residents from March to May 2020, but that it was then the organizing entity of the Christmas parade 2020 at the WARF. Polster, on behalf of the organization, requested again on September 13, 2021 to host the 2021 Warrenton Christmas Parade in Old Town, although a full application was not submitted until November 11, according to the Mayor Carter Nevill.
Polster posted a Facebook post on Nov. 26 claiming that “unforeseen” city fees totaling approximately $ 6,500 left the parade in danger of being canceled. The Special Events Fee is intended to partially reimburse staff and other costs incurred by the city at large events.
“All event organizers pay this fee, and there is a fee waiver request process as well. This process holds event planners accountable for the use of taxpayer dollars for their events, and nonprofits are eligible for waivers, ”Mayor Carter Nevill said in a Nov. 29 statement. Charges were suspended during the pandemic but reinstated in July 2021 – without objection from Polster.
“Large-scale events that block multiple roads and generate a significant amount of waste can result in significant overtime costs for taxpayers. Event planners all have the option of formally appealing to the board for a waiver or reduction of this fee, ”Nevill said, noting that Polster’s organization had never requested a waiver.
“We are disappointed that this organization seeks to divide our community with false statements, not having consulted with anyone from council or otherwise,” Nevill said.
Polster posted an apology video to Facebook later on November 29, citing a “lack of communication on my part.”
On December 15, a day after Polster stepped down as Deputy Mayor, City Attorney Whit Robinson announced he would be stepping down from his part-time position in 90 days. He did not explicitly state any reason for doing so, explaining in his resignation letter that he planned to work more closely with his brother’s Maryland-based law firm, The Robinson Law Firm, after he quit his job. within the city government.
Robinson served as the town’s legal counsel for over 18 years; he is currently paid $ 11,000 per month for his services. He also runs a private law firm in Warrenton, where, according to an archived page on the firm’s now-dormant website, he works on “land use cases, construction law, corporate affairs, federal and state electoral law and government contracts ”.
Each member of the municipal council was contacted for comments by the Fauquier time Monday. No board member chose to respond.
When asked to comment on the reason for Robinson’s resignation, Mayor Carter Nevill said in a text message Monday that he had “no comment beyond what was presented by [Robinson] in his resignation letter.
On December 16, Nevill said the council will most likely continue to hire a full-time lawyer to represent the city’s legal interests. “The needs and demands of the city have changed” since Robinson became a city attorney, he said. He said he would like to see a lawyer with extensive land use experience in the job, noting that much of the city’s legal work requires this expertise. “We don’t want to make mistakes,” Nevill said.
Council members will discuss more details about the future of the city attorney’s role next month, Nevill said. “The Council will have to examine our list of options,” he explained.