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Six Florence City Council members resign

councilmembers florence.jpg
Posted at 4:26 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 18:01:36-04

FLORENCE — Six Florence City Council members have resigned. News 5 spoke with City Clerk, Jessica Hill, who confirmed that Kristal Wood, Anthony Esquibel, Brian Allen, Melissa Hardy, Mike Vendetti, and Allen Knisley submitted letters of resignation, effective immediately.

Clark told News 5 that they indicated that they are "not being effective," and did not provide additional information.

Mayor Paul Villagranna, has not stepped down.

Melissa Hardy released a statement to News 5 which says:

"The stress I have endured in the last 6 months has begun to take a toll on my health and my ability to be the kind of wife and mother my family deserves. I believe that I have worked diligently to find the truth and pursue every avenue I could towards fixing what has gone so terribly wrong in the City of Florence. At this point, under the scope of my authority, I do not believe I am able to be of further assistance to the citizens. The council can only give so much direction and if it goes unfulfilled there is little recourse. We can try to set the example and expectation of the change we are seeking but that too can be rejected. We are also subject to making decisions with the information that we are provided, whether it is accurate and complete or not. I hold out hope that things will continue to improve and wish everyone that continues to move toward that goal the best. I was so proud to be elected for this job last fall and it has been an honor serving as a representative for the community. I am truly sorry to anyone that feels I have let them down by this choice but I can no longer serve on the Florence City council."

The City Clerk says they are consulting with the city attorney to determine how to move forward and replace those council members and conduct town business.

Later on Tuesday, News 5 learned that Governor Jared Polis' office was preparing to get involved in the situation.

“The Governor has requested an update from his legal counsel on accountability and how to ensure that basic services remain in place for residents of Florence," said press secretary Conor Cahill.

Read the resignation letters here:

The former Florence City Manager, Michael Patterson, was arrested in November 2021 on the following charges:

  • Two counts of Stalking-emotional Distress (Class 5 Felony)
  • Sexual Contact - no consent (Class 1 Misdemeanor)
  • Providing alcohol to a minor (Class 1 Misdemeanor)

A timeline of what we know about Patterson is as follows:

  • August 31, 2021 - Florence City Council votes to fire Patterson.
  • November 3, 2021 - A warrant is issued for Patterson's arrest.
  • November 15, 2021 - Patterson is arrested at the Denver International Airport
  • January 3, 2022 - Patterson appears in Fremont County Court for Arraignment
  • March 22, 2022 - Six City Council Members resign, leaving Florence's Mayor as the city's only elected official left in office.

This is a developing story.


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