LOGAN, Iowa — In a special election Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly opted to reduce the Logan City Council from five members to three.

They also selected Jim Ettleman, a former council member, to serve as mayor through the end of the year. A new mayor, whose term will begin in January, will be elected Nov. 5.

Ettleman was the only name on Tuesday's ballot.

The special election was the latest development in the controversy stemming from the firing of City Administrator Angela Winther and City Attorney Joe Lauterbach in a hastily called special meeting on July 6, 2012.

The firings proved unpopular, leading to contentious council meetings filled with more than 100 people, seemingly all opposed to the firings and the three council members who voted for them: Skip Johnson, Nick Lefeber and Dee Clark.

One council member opposed the firings; a fifth council position was vacant at the time.

The measure to reduce the size of the council received nearly 90 percent support from the 375 who cast ballots.

The results mean the makeup of the entire body will have to be voted on in the November election, allowing Logan voters the chance to wipe the slate clean and start anew.

“This is a referendum on what is going on in the community,” said Ettleman, who along with Winther and a handful of other supporters of the measure gathered at the Logan Community Center as the Harrison County Auditor's Office tabulated the results.

Ettleman is outspoken in his opposition to Winther's firing. He is a member of the Logan Citizens for Change Committee, which backed the measure.

The results mean Ettleman will be running council meetings for the next few months, until a new mayor takes over. He does not plan on running.

Several townspeople say they believe the firings stemmed from a controversy over how to deal with Milliman Park, on the north side of Logan.

Some wanted the park cleaned and put to use. Others, including Johnson's wife, opposed the change. The Johnsons' house is adjacent to the park.

Winther was a supporter of cleaning up the park. Her husband, Jack, leads the local Boys Scout troop and has said cleaning it up has long had been one of the troop's community service goals.

Johnson has said little about the firing, but has cited insubordination and emails between Winther and Lauterbach as reasons.

Previous Mayor Randy Fetter resigned in May, citing trying times in the city. Council member Mike Foutch, who filled the vacant seat, has served as mayor pro-tem since then.

Late last year, Winther filed suit against the city over her firing, alleging among other things that her First Amendment rights had been violated. She now works for Harrison County.

Mary Darling of the World-Herald News Service contributed to this report.

Contact the writer:

402-444-1310, andrew.nelson@owh.com

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