Attorney Brian Duncan appointed to fill Syracuse City Council vacancy

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 28 2012 9:57 p.m. MST

SYRACUSE — Attorney Brian Duncan was appointed to the Syracuse City Council on Tuesday night, following an hour of deliberation and a split vote of the council.

Duncan was appointed by a 3-1 vote to fill the nearly two years remaining in D. Matthew Kimmel's term on council.

Fourteen Syracuse residents threw their hats into the ring after Kimmel resigned earlier this month amid allegations that he used his public position for personal financial gain.

In his letter of resignation submitted to city officials Feb. 9, Kimmel said he "accepted a job opportunity out of state." His resignation was effective that day.

Duncan ended up getting the job over former Clearfield Mayor Tom Waggoner, former City Councilman Alan Clark and Daniel Schuler, who lost in the most recent election by just one vote.

Others who applied to fill the vacancy were Planning Commissioners Gary Pratt and T.J. Jensen, Planning Commission alternate Curt McCuistion, along with James Ackerman, Joe Levi, Allen Lowry, Randy Miller, Tom Price and Jeremiah Zohner. One applicant, Richard Denning, didn't show up for the meeting and missed his chance to tout his qualifications to the council.

Duncan said his 15-year career as an attorney has taught him that "sometimes we have to sit and listen to what our clients tell us."

That skill-set, he said, will benefit a constituency that he says has felt its leaders haven't been hearing them.

Councilman Douglas Peterson initially made a motion to appoint McCuistion to the post, though that motion died for lack of a second. Peterson was the lone dissenting vote to appoint Duncan.

According to charging documents filed Jan. 31 in 2nd District Court, Kimmel used his position on the North Davis Sewer Board and personal business connections in real estate between Oct. 14, 2010, and April 21, 2011, to connect a specific Realtor with the board for a land transaction.

Kimmel, who has a background in commercial real estate, didn't disclose to the sewer board his true relationship with the Realtor or that he would be getting a finder's fee of approximately $3,000 for the transaction, the charges state.

Kimmel also instructed the Realtor not to disclose their relationship — or the finder's fee — to the sewer board, saying he would take care of the proper disclosures, according to the charges. He served on the board as part of his City Council assignments but was replaced in May when allegations of misconduct began to surface.

Kimmel is charged with one count of using his public position to secure privileges, a class A misdemeanor. He's scheduled to appear in court March 12.

A handful of residents who spoke during a public meeting Feb. 2 encouraged Kimmel to resign. He didn't respond to any of those comments and declined to answer questions from the media about the allegations following the meeting, telling reporters to contact his lawyer.

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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