Nelsonville City Council adopts code of conduct

Shortly before its passage, one member violated the new formal list of expectations for the city’s elected and appointed officials.
A group of people sit at a conference desk.  From left to right: City Attorney Bob Toy, City Council President Tony Dunfee, Council Clerk Susan Harmony and council member Doug Childs. Photo by Keri Johnson
Nelsonville City Council on Sept. 11. From left to right: City Attorney Bob Toy, City Council President Tony Dunfee, Council Clerk Susan Harmony and council member Doug Childs. Photo by Keri Johnson

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NELSONVILLE, Ohio — Nelsonville City Council officially adopted a code of conduct at its regular meeting Monday night.

Ordinance 55-23 established “ethics, conflicts of interest, code of conduct, and transparency policies” for elected and appointed Nelsonvilly city officials. Council members voted 5-1 to pass the ordinance as an emergency, with council member Dan Sherman casting the lone no vote, and Cory Taylor absent.


At the beginning of the meeting, before adopting the ordinance, Sherman used profanity — “offensive language,” a prohibited activity per the fresh code of conduct — in a brief, heated exchange with Council President Tony Dunfee. This exchange pertained to a comment made by Sherman regarding a previous executive session from which he walked out early. 

Council member Doug Childs, who rejoined the body in August after resigning in February, introduced the eight-page code of conduct. It outlines prohibited and encouraged activities in ethics, conflicts of interest, code of conduct, unlawful interest in contracts, transparency, and additional requirements. 

Additionally, the code lays out penalties for officials who violate the code of conduct, beginning with a written warning and potential council censure. Officials may also be required to undergo ethics training, be suspended or removed from council, and face fines and/or referrals to state agencies. 

The code states that council has “the right to make and enforce its own rules and to ensure compliance with those laws generally applicable to public bodies.” 

The council may investigate actions in violation of the code in public session. The ordinance also requires a vote of five council members, except for the individual(s) who are in violation of the code, to impose penalties upon fellow council members.

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Fred Holmes addresses the council Monday night. Photo by Keri Johnson.

In other business, the council formally recognized resident Fred Holmes “for his service and dedication to the American Red Cross.” Since 2005, he’s been deployed to 34 different disaster locations across the United States and its territories.

Holmes also participates in “local fire calls” and the American Red Cross’s smoke detector program, recruits volunteers and serves as the mass care coordinator for 10 southeast Ohio counties, the resolution states. 

His “selflessness, character, kindness, energy and graciousness toward helping individuals in need deserves the sincerest recognition and praise,” the resolution continues.

During business and organizational comments, Holmes encouraged the city to allow its officials and employees to volunteer for the American Red Cross. Beyond helping people, Holmes said volunteering makes for a “better employee.”

“You cannot go on deployment and help people and feed people and shelter people without coming back different,” he said. 

Nelsonville City Council meets every other Monday of each month. Its next regular meeting will be Monday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. in Nelsonville City Council Chambers, 211 Lake Hope Drive. Meetings are also livestreamed on YouTube. Find more at

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