Ludington Fifth Ward City Councilor Angela Serna received a written letter of reprimand and was stripped of her assignment on the building and licensing committee Monday during the regular meeting of the city council hosted via the video-conferencing application Zoom.
Ludington Mayor Steve Miller asked for a motion to amend the council’s agenda to include the reprimand, and it was approved 6-1 with Serna dissenting.
The reprimand was in regards to Serna’s conduct at the Nov. 9 meeting, during which she uttered a few expletives and left early after a discussion with Miller. Serna spoke up Monday, and said she had been provoked by Miller at that meeting.
“As the public is well aware, I am pretty passionate about responsibilities as your public servant. Sometimes, I let that get the best of me, like using foul language to get my point across,” she said. “The interesting thing is that I was not the only one who violated this code, yet I am the only one who may or may not be disciplined.”
Serna stated she was blackmailed and intimidated into a potential apology, and she charged that the development of the reprimand was unethical and unprofessional.
“This reprimand holds no water,” she said. “It has no validity on my remaining time as Fifth Ward councilor. It won’t change what I say or what I do.”
The agenda was amended to allow for the reprimand to be considered first, and the motion was made for the reprimand. It was approved on a 4-3 vote with Sixth Ward Councilor David Bourgette, Third Ward Councilor Les Johnson and Serna dissenting.
“I’m disappointed that Councilor Serna has not shown remorse or taken accountability for her behavior at the Nov. 9 meeting,” said Brandy Miller, at-large councilor, who made the motion for the reprimand.
“Angela, you’ve been a part of our team for a couple of years, but you really came in with a chip on your shoulder. We really have worked with you, tried to work with you well,” said Second Ward Councilor Kathy Winczewski, who supported the motion. “You’ve seen the work that we do in committee meetings and in city council. And, I don’t understand your animosity toward us and our processes.”
But both Johnson and Bourgette said it could have been avoided altogether.
“I honestly feel this could have been avoided by everyone involved. It wouldn’t have taken much to keep this from happening. I just think what we’re doing now is turning this all into a circus,” said Johnson. “As far as keeping her from any of the committees, there’s only three meetings left (until the end of Serna’s current term). I just say leave things the way they are and go on from there.”
“The last meeting was a little bit over the top… To get control of your emotions is something you have to do at this level,” Bourgette said. “I think she has something to add to this council, whether it’s three meetings or longer. I would really like emphasize her to get her temper under control and keep on using her knowledge and enthusiasm for the community.”
Serna previously was reprimanded in July 2019, and Miller stated that a subsequent action would include the loss of a committee assignment and a public reprimand. The July 2019 incident was in the wake of comments made about the work of the city’s police department and the closure of the north breakwater.