By Michael Howell
Stevensville Town Councilor Desera Towle tendered her resignation effective September 1, right after she heard that Mayor Lew Barnett had resigned.
“I support Lew’s resignation,” said Towle. “This has been going on for months.”
She told the Bitterroot Star that her resignation was motivated by a combination of things. For one thing, she said, she was already making plans to move to Spokane as she has been unable to find meaningful employment in the Missoula/Stevensville area. But she accelerated her decision to resign when she heard that the mayor had quit. Towle said it did not make any sense to remain on the council with Pat Groninger taking over the role of Mayor.
“I found Pat Groninger to be untenable to work with,” said Towle. “He truly is a bully and I fully expect that he will continue to govern in that manner.” Towle said that she suffered some health problems related to the stress involved in dealing with Groninger. Towle said she had a panic attack one evening which she attributed to “Pat’s tactics of attacking Lew.” She said the medical treatment she sought for the problem cost her $4,000.
Towle said that dealing with a bully is hard for a lot of people because they are afraid that the bully will then turn his attention on them. She said that the schools had recognized this and have integrated an educational program about bullying and how to deal with it.
“We won’t tolerate bullying in our schools,” she said, “but we will allow it on the town council. Maybe we need to require a course in Bullying 101 for all town council members.”