The mayor of Harrison, Kayleen Walker, resigned after she received an ominous note and had her home vandalized.
“It was left on our windshield. It’s a hand-written note,” Ms. Walker said.
Ms. Walker read the note during a phone call, “It says, ‘You are parked illegally, as the mayor and a whistleblower, you should lead by example. Those who cast the first stone.’”
Mayor Walker said that after she received the note her property was vandalized twice. According to Ms. Walker, a pickup deliberately sprayed her home with gravel. Then later the same night her car window was smashed.
“A large diesel truck started to burn-out, peel-out, they ensured that they went into the gravel, and threw it all over our house,” she said.
Gravel broke their entryway door=window, it also dented the metal door, broke a custom big picture window, chipped the home’s siding and scattered rock in the gutter and a garden on the property according to Ms. Harrison.
“I don’t know if it’s all connected but the note stated, ‘those who cast the first stone,’ and then the gravel,” Ms. Walker said.
As to why she was accused of being a whistleblower by the note-writer, Ms. Walker said she could only guess.
“I can only guess. I’ve taken a stance against the child molester and they recently got placed back in jail…right after he got rearrested that is when the note got left on my car,” Ms. Harrison said. “I have taken a stance from the council table before, during my mayor’s report I said I did not want any comments, but for the community’s safety they needed to know. That was a year ago. Then he got rearrested. So, maybe it’s because I was vocal before. But that is the only thing I would think why I would be called a whistleblower.”
John Thiele was arrested in 2018 and charged with two acts of lewd conduct with a child under the age of 16. He was sentenced to a suspended prison sentence of five years fixed, five years indeterminate and placed on supervised probation for four years.
Mr. Thiele has since been rearrested. He appeared for a probation violation hearing in Kootenai County, Aug. 12, 9 a.m. According to County Prosecutor Barry McHugh, Mr. Thiele denied allegations of probation violation and will be brought to hearing later this year.
Mr. Thiele was affiliated with a local business located near Ms. Walker’s residence.
Mayor Walker announced her resignation via a letter read during the city council meeting Aug. 6.
Harrison City Hall provided a copy of the letter. An exact reprint is below:
As you all know some members of council and I have been at an impasse on recent city issues that we have been working through. I fully believe that due to my stance on some of these community issues my family has been placed in harm’s way.
In recent weeks an individual anonymously contacted the local newspaper. Two non factual articles were printed, as well as an anonymous note left on the windshield of my car. This past Saturday night August 3rd, two separate vandalism incidents occurred at my home. There is a large amount of damage and this will financially affect us. I believe you will understand that I will not place my family in harm.
Due to all of these separate, yet possibly linked, circumstances I am forced to take action and protect my family and home. I hereby immediately resign as Harrison Mayor.
Asked to comment on Mayor Harrison’s resignation, City Council President Jordan Hall said, “no comment.”
The Gazette Record articles Ms. Walker referred to included accusations from individuals, speaking anonymously, that she was not being transparent regarding the city audit being overdue.
“The budget, me not being transparent, that is the one thing that I have tried to bring to this city, being accountable for every penny and it has slowed things down, getting the audit done. We have hired an extra person to help with this. To be accused of not being transparent, that hit home. Transparency was such a key to everything,” Ms. Walker said.
When the article in question was published, Ms. Walker could not be reached for comment as she was assisting a family member recovering from a medical procedure.
Regarding the impasse between the former mayor and the city council, Ms. Walker said much of it has been over sewer hookups.
Ed Benoit, the owner of Stone Gate, a Harrison development, has pushed for the city to pursue additional sewer hookups for the development. He has also offered financial support if the city agrees to hire a specific engineer for the project.
Ms. Walker is concerned that by relying on a private financier the needs of all Harrison residents will not be considered and that the current system cannot handle additional hookups.
“Ed said he would put up so much money…and that’s great. I’m not against development but I am against picking a particular engineer…the council should pick the engineer,” Ms. Walker said. “This city council has to respect the residents here and the needs of the residents and we have to keep our sewer system working fully…if our sewer system were to get more hookups now our system could not handle it,” Ms. Walker said.
However, Ms. Walker said that is only a small part of why she resigned.
“The Council and I can have disagreements, that’s good, it leads to good governance. When it came to my home and my safety that is when it crossed the line,” she said.
Ms. Walker said her family plans to move out of Harrison.
“We’ll still be here in north Idaho, closer to family. We moved here 17 years ago, but it’s time to leave and that just truly hurts. I hope that whoever replaces me there still stands up for the residents and not just downtown and businesses. We have a couple of really good council people…it’s an election year and I hope we get good council people and a good mayor to continue forward in a better direction with Harrison,” Ms. Walker said.
A temporary appointment will be made during a city council meeting scheduled for Aug. 15, 6 p.m.
Mr. Hall is the acting mayor until an appointment is made.
The city of Harrison will hold a regular election this November.
Council members Russell Riberich, Jessica Hutson, Joe Cornell, Debbie Lockhart and Nick John did not respond to requests for comment in time for this publication.