Highland Heights City Council member could face impeachment after drug charges

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Highland Heights City Councilmember Edward Fessler could be removed from office after he was arrested on drug possession and trafficking charges in February, according to city officials.

City Attorney Steve Franzen discussed possible next steps for the councilmember, who was elected in November, at a March council meeting.

The Northern Kentucky Drug Task Force said they caught Fessler with at least two grams of methamphetamine and undisclosed amounts of marijuana and LSD.

Fessler, 43, has lived in Highland Heights for 18 years.

Franzen said he gave the option to Fessler’s attorney for Fessler to resign. But Franzen said he didn’t hear anything back from the attorney and gave details on how the council may proceed with this.

“We feel confident that the council would remove him if he doesn’t resign. We have not yet heard back from [the attorney],” Franzen said. “We’ll give them an opportunity to go ahead and do that. If we don’t hear back from him between now and the next meeting, if counsel is so inclined, and I suspect strongly that they are, we will then initiate proceedings to have Mr. Fessler removed as a council member.”

The impeachment trial would only occur if the council were to make a case of misconduct against Fessler through formal legislation, like a resolution. The councilmember would have an opportunity for a public hearing before any motion to vote him out.

After the public hearing, the council can vote to decide whether or not to keep the councilmember, but that vote must be unanimous.

The councilmember has not resigned, and Fessler’s seat sat vacant at the city council meeting earlier in March.

City Administrator Michael Giffen said this is a rare instance for members serving on the council, and that councilmembers leave for lots of different reasons but not particularly for this reason.

“We’ve had councilmembers leave in the middle of terms before, whether they are moving out or didn’t want to do it any longer, I’ve been through that process a couple of times,” Giffen said. “As for misconduct goes, I’m unaware if that’s happened in the history of Highland Heights.”

Giffen added that now that Franzen has laid out the plan, the council may or may not go forward with the impeachment, he said.

“The process at the last meeting stated that they have the option to choose, so they may or may not do that at the meeting next week,” Giffen said.

City council’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 21 at 7 p.m. at 176 Johns Hill Road.

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