Update November 3rd: Dan Rydalch gets clobbered in election; updated post HERE.
Update November 2nd: Stockton voters who voted early for Mayor Dan Rydalch will not be allowed to change their vote. Lesson learned: Don't vote early.
Update October 29th: Stockton City Council votes to reinstate Josh Rowell with back pay; updated post HERE.
Update October 28th: More allegations about Dan Rydalch surface. Updated post HERE.
If I was Stockton, Utah mayoral candidate Mark Whitney, I'd be out knocking on every door in Stockton 16 hours a day for the next week until the November 3rd election, although as a current member of the city council, he already has name recognition. His opponent, incumbent mayor Dan Rydalch, may have just handed him the mayor's office on a silver platter. In an incredibly bone-headed political move just two weeks before the election, Mayor Dan Rydalch has suspended Stockton Police Cpl. Josh Rowell after Rowell ticketed the mayor's son, 29-year-old Jared Rydalch, for not having a driver license during a traffic checkpoint stop around 10:30 P.M. on Tuesday October 20th, 2009. Primary media story in the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin; additional stories in the Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News, and KSL Channel 5 (318 public comments). Law enforcement officers are also sounding off on this story on Officer.com.
Cpl. Rowell said that on October 20th, he was parked by the side of the road and was motioning vehicles over to check for license, registration and DUI when he realized a white car appeared to be evading the checkpoint on residential streets. He followed the sedan and pulled it over. The driver, Jared Rydalch, produced proof of insurance and registration, but could not produce a driver's license. Rowell cited him and told him he would pull him over again if he spotted him driving that night. Jared Rydalch reportedly mouthed off to Rowell, saying "Tell all your other cop buddies not to pull me over".
About 20 minutes later, Cpl. Rowell found Police Chief Heinz Kopp in the mayor's pickup with Mayor Rydalch, who appeared visibly agitated. When the officer approached the pair, Rowell said the mayor fired him, saying "I want your badge tomorrow morning." The mayor reportedly complained that the officer had acted rudely. Apparently the chief got the mayor calmed down somewhat, for he later told Rowell that he was merely suspended without pay. Rowell denies any unprofessionalism on his part. The mayor apparently has the power to discipline police officers in Stockton without input from the police chief. Rowell joined the Stockton Police Department in January 2009; he works part-time with the agency, putting in about 50 hours a month and overseeing its reserve officer corps.
But many of the city's 600 residents are outraged over Mayor Rydalch's arbitrary behavior, and the city council has scheduled a special Thursday evening session on October 29th to discuss the matter. Councilman Mark Whitney has been circumspect about this issue, but Councilman Kendall Thomas characterized the suspension as totally unfair.
Under normal circumstances, this mistake would be politically forgivable. But not when it's made just two weeks before an election. Dan Rydalch has forfeited his moral authority and corrupted his stewardship. His opponent, Mark Whitney, has served on the city council and understands municipal issues; he is a fully-qualified replacement. It is the duty of Stockton voters to do the right thing and vote to replace Rydalch with Whitney on November 3rd.