Home News Valpo Council splits 4-3 with unsuccessful attempt to remove president

Valpo Council splits 4-3 with unsuccessful attempt to remove president

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More than 90 minutes of discussion and public comments, including criticism from police and their supporters contrasted by the equal expression of support for Valparaiso City Council President Robert Cotton, took the focus at Tuesday’s meeting.

Cotton, D-2nd, has remained the center of concern following his social media comments about a fatal police-involved shooting which later prompted an apology from Cotton. An unsuccessful vote by the council to remove Cotton as president, resulting in a 4 to 3 split, oddly included Cotton voting on his fate.

The Valparaiso chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police originally addressed the council at the May 13 meeting, asking Cotton to step aside from his leadership role because of his comments on his Facebook page in the aftermath of the shooting on April 25.

Cotton maintains his comment was a reflection of “the image he had of the shooting from an eye-witness account” and he in no way meant criticism or disregard to the police.

Cotton’s Facebook comment on his personal page was made in the days after the shooting death of Caden Mura, 20, of Valparaiso, who police have said displayed a handgun at a Valparaiso park before shooting at police.

Following the May 13 council meeting, the three Valparaiso Police officers and two from the Porter County Sheriff’s Office involved in the incident and on paid administrative leave were found to have acted appropriately following an investigation by Indiana State Police and a determination by Porter County Prosecutor Gary Germann.

Following the public comment during the May 28 meeting, Jack Pupillo, R-4th, the city’s liaison to the police and fire departments, made a motion asking Cotton to resign as president of the Valparaiso City Council president.

Valparaiso City Councilman Jack Pulillo, R-4th, reads a statement on behalf of the council in support of police and first responders at the council's meeting on Monday, May 13, 202, in response to police and first responders' criticism of Council President Robert Cotton, left. (Philip Potempa/for Post-Tribune)
Valparaiso City Councilman Jack Pulillo, R-4th, reads a statement on behalf of the council in support of police and first responders at the council’s meeting on Monday, May 13, 2024, in response to police and first responders’ criticism of Council President Robert Cotton, left. (Philip Potempa/for Post-Tribune)

“At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, I was honored to introduce and unanimously pass Resolution No. 14 2024, which commended Valpo Police officers and the Porter County Sherriff’s Department officers for their actions on April 25,” Pupillo said Thursday.

“There is no doubt they acted heroically and saved lives that day. We owe those officers, and all public safety professionals, a debt of gratitude. Some of those offices spoke during public commentary about their past negative experiences with Council President Cotton. While I certainly don’t want to discount the gravity of the situation, the feud between the FOP and our council president has become a huge distraction from our duties.”

Pupillo said the “unhealthy” reflection of Cotton in his role was why he made the motion for Cotton’s resignation.

“With a show support for our officers, I made a motion for Cotton to vacate the presidency of the City Council and Councilman Peter Anderson seconded the motion,” Pupillo said.

“After a short discussion, the vote unfortunately failed 3-4 with Councilwoman Diana Reed joining me and Anderson in a bipartisan show of support. How we proceed from here is uncertain. I doubt the tension will simply fade away. But I am hopeful positive change will come eventually so that we can unify and move forward in a constructive manner.”

Council Member Barbara Domer, D-3rd, said any community healing following the April events “has stalled due to the politicization of this tragedy.”

“We’ve accomplished so much just in these past five months and we can accomplish so much more with Robert Cotton as our president,” Domer said.

In a brief statement before the end of the meeting vote on his position with the council, Cotton said: “I’m humbled by my own flaws and it’s certainly not what’s in my heart, and I think it’s time to heal.”

Philip Potempa is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.



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