It’s not just Washington, D.C., that needs a special prosecutor. Watertown mayoral candidate Sarah Caron says Watertown needs to appoint an independent investigator to figure out how her incumbent opponent, Mayor Steve Thorson, got a city car without any policy authorizing such mayoral use of city property:
“I am requesting an independent investigation,” she told the Public Opinion this morning. “The council can’t be unbiased; it is filled with his family and friends.”
The mayor’s son, Brad Thorson, represents Ward C on the council.
“The city must be able to trust its mayor to be responsible with all city resources,” Caron said. “It’s not appropriate to have that body do the investigating. It needs to be done by a unbiased third party.”
Mike Davis, who is also running for mayor, said the mayor did the right thing by giving up the car when questions arose.
“But somebody at City Hall should have known there was no policy for the mayor to have a city-owned car and stopped it before it happened,” Davis said..
Mayor Thorson says his use of a Dodge Charger decommissioned from the city police was “an honest mistake.” Apparently he honestly didn’t think the city’s annual $250 in-town mileage reimbursement was enough, so he honestly thought he could add a benefit to his compensation package on his own initiative:
This was an honest mistake. This was something that during the budget time, what we do is we hand down cars, and we hand down trucks, and we hand down lawn mowers so there isn’t that big expense to all the department heads and all the different departments. And when… Lee McPeek, our chief of police, was getting his four new cars, I said, because I was getting $250 a year for my expenses on the vehicle, and I said, What’s the chances of using one of your cars, and Lee says Well, he didn’t have a problem, but in hindsight, I should’ve looked at policy, I should’ve looked and seen if it was o.k. with the city council [Mayor Steve Thorson, transcribed from audio, “Watertown Mayor Takes Blame in Police Car Incident,” Hub City Radio, 2017.05.15].
Mayor Thorson has parked the city’s car until the city council decides whether to authorize a car for the mayor in the 2018 budget. Of course, by that time, it may be Mayor Caron considering procuring that used Dodge Charger for her trips around Watertown.