CASPER, Wyo. — At the Casper City Council work session Sept. 26, several councilmembers had comments on the resignation of former mayor Bruce Knell.
“I reached out to him several times by phone and email last week pleading with him to resign, going so far as to write a press release for him to use,” Councilor Kyle Gamroth shared.
Knell resigned on Sept. 21 amid allegations of domestic violence.
He also addressed the public’s quick judgment, commenting, “I wonder if those people are going to be as quick to apologize to him if innocent as they were quick to convict him before he’s even been charged with a crime.”
Additionally, Gamroth sought procedural reforms, suggesting there should be a future work session item to discuss options for removing someone from leadership roles like mayor or vice mayor so the council doesn’t get “effectively held hostage until the end of the year by a leader that neither us nor the community have any faith could effectively carry out the duties that the title brings.”
Brandy Hopkins clarified her role on the council, emphasizing her commitment to focusing on city business rather than personal opinions. She further discussed the complexities of electing a mayor, indicating the challenges in letting the public select a mayor given the current structure.
“I joined the council to help with business, not with my opinions,” she said. “I fully understand why citizens would think that you should be the person voting for mayor. But for that to work, we would have to have someone running for mayor, not running for council. … Unless we change everything, you can’t pick the mayor.”
Lisa Engebretsen revisited her earlier comments and clarified her no vote on Knell for mayor, saying he would “often speak off the cuff causing some inflammatory conversations.” She also clarified her desire for female leadership, indicating it was a reaction to “the mayor’s comments throughout the year” that were “inflammatory directed towards women. … It just felt like a lot of it was targeted more towards women.”
Mayor Ray Pacheco explained the constraints the council faces when considering leadership changes, saying councilors, including the mayor, are not city employees and thus cannot be dismissed easily. He also provided context regarding the jurisdictional limits surrounding Knell’s alleged crime.
“A councilperson or a mayor are not employees of the city,” Pacheco said. “Casper Police Department has not arrested Mr. Knell or issued charges. The reason is that the alleged crime took place in Austin … which automatically removes the authority of the CPD to conduct an investigation.”
Austin police confirmed to Oil City News last week that they investigated a disturbance at the hotel where Knell and his wife were staying. Their officers made no arrests.
The video of the work session can be found on the City of Casper YouTube channel.