Kimball City Council president resigns, recall effort against town’s mayor fizzles

KIMBALL, NE — The Kimball City Council’s president has announced she is stepping down. 

Kim Baliman wrote a resignation letter and submitted it Monday evening. Kimball mayor Keith Prunty made the news official by confirming her resignation during Tuesday’s city council meeting. Baliman won reelection in November and was appointed to be president of the city council for the next term. 

In the letter announcing her intentions to step down, Baliman referenced the recent recall effort against Prunty

“I will not deal with the Facebook drama by folks who do not know there are two sides,” Baliman wrote. “I work for the voters and many many many asked me to recall the mayor. I could not.”

Baliman outlined issues she has had recently in the letter, including claiming Prunty and former councilman James Shields, “plotted to make a fool of me in a public meeting and I saw them outside of his office laughing their heads off at my expense.”

She wrote further, “The fact that so many are afraid to say what they want for fear of repercussions by the mayor — I am done. There is so much more I will stop at this as my tears are flowing and I am crushed to be doing this — but I can’t go on.”

Baliman also said in the letter mayor Prunty has done many great things, but “he is not all he says he is and there are always two sides.” She said she will support him all she can for the good of Kimball. 

According to the Western Nebraska Observer, Mary Laughlin, one of the people who filed the initial papers to begin the recall process against Prunty, is Baliman’s daughter. 

Both Laughlin and Ashley Sisk, the other resident who filed papers to recall Prunty, have announced through their Facebook profiles they do not plan to move forward with the recall. 

Both said the reason is due to the backlash the effort has received. 

“The comments and actions I’ve received and have been the target of, both publicly and privately have been things I would be ashamed to say or do to another human being,” Laughlin said in a Facebook post on April 16. “This was about seeing a democratic process through, and it’s a shame that those who opposed the movement (of which I’ve said from day one was OKAY, that’s their right) felt it was okay to hurt with their words and actions – far beyond and deeper than their initial key and pen strokes!”

“I refuse to let this group of people affect me and my family any longer,” Sisk said in a video posted on Facebook April 9. “I can’t justify risking any more backlash for this.”

Baliman, although never officially connected with the recall, referenced the backlash the movement received in her letter saying, “You can have the haters place all the ad’s [sic] in the paper you want — and bully me on Facebook — I will not bow in — I have more class than that.” 

Nebraska statutes do not address principal circulators of a recall petition wanting to withdraw from a recall effort. However, circulators only have 20 days to collect the papers used for gathering signatures from the county clerk once those papers have been prepared. If the circulators do not pick up the papers within the 20 days, the recall effort ends.

While they don’t wish to move forward with the process, Laughlin and Sisk both said they hope it leads to some action. 

“I genuinely hope that Mr. Prunty takes some time for reflection after all of this – more than a few of his constituents are very unhappy with how things are going and felt this was the only way to resolve the situation,” Laughlin wrote. “While this result certainly is not how I’d hoped this would turn out, I hope Kimball citizens speak their minds with their votes in the next Mayoral Election!”

After learning of the recall effort earlier this month, Prunty told News Channel Nebraska, “Disagreement is part of life, and I am disappointed that some citizens are unhappy with decisions that I have made as Mayor. Whatever the cause for disagreement, I will always have our community’s best interest in mind. I will do everything I can to serve with honesty, integrity, and give every ounce of energy I have to keep Kimball moving forward.”  

Kimball has started the search for Baliman’s replacement. Those who wish to apply must live within the city limits of Kimball and be a registered voter. Letters of interest must include the applicants name, address, phone number, email address, a reason for their interest in the position and goals for Kimball.

Letters can be sent to the City of Kimball at 223 South Chestnut Street in Kimball. They must be received on or before Friday, May 14 at 4:30 p.m.