Former Mayor Dead at 80

Pete Amoth

BLYTHEWOOD – Former Blythewood mayor Pete Amoth, 80, died Monday following a short illness. Elected mayor in January 2004, Amoth served only one term. While he won a landslide victory with a 67 percent turnout after a politically tumultuous campaign, his tenure as mayor was largely unexceptional. He is not remembered so much for his accomplishments as mayor, as for his run for office and for his role in changing the balance of power in a government bent on industrializing more than half the town against many of the residents’ wishes. His campaign was remarkable in that it fully engaged the town’s residents in the political process.

As a member of the Town’s Planning Commission in 2003, Amoth began speaking out against proposed industrial zoning that he feared would turn out to accommodate nothing more than common manufacturing. He also campaigned successfully against the previous government’s plans to sell the Blythewood Community Center property as a way to raise funds to build a large park and meeting place next to the Town Hall. He not only spoke out in public meetings, but regularly published editorials and letters in the town’s newspaper. Amoth’s political momentum was boosted further when the Town Council attempted to reprimand him for his writings and public speeches, and called for him to meet with them in a closed executive session. Amoth rallied public support and refused to meet privately with Council.

Amoth was also in the forefront when 60 residents filed three initiative petitions with circuit court, one of which called for Town Council to discontinue their practice of appointing non-residents to the Town’s Planning Commission and appoint only electors (voting residents of the Town.) In response to the three petitions, Town Council filed three civil actions against the 60 residents asking the court to make the residents pay court costs and more if Council prevailed in the case. Again, Amoth and his supporters rallied the public and the Council backed down from the lawsuit. Four months later, a circuit court judge ruled against the 60 on two of the petitions, but ruled that the Council had to either pass an ordinance in compliance with the petition to appoint only electors or hold a referendum and let the people decide the issue. Four days after the ruling, Amoth was elected mayor and his administration passed the ordinance allowing only residents on town boards.

While Amoth’s administration was fraught with questionable hirings and firings at Town Hall, he broke new ground in several areas, including hiring a high end legal firm in Columbia to represent the town, a practice that continues today. After leaving office, Amoth continued to be active in community issues and ran, unsuccessfully, for mayor again in 2012. Although he was criticized by many of his supporters for doing little to move the town forward during his administration and for failing to carry out his campaign promise to build a new community center on the 5-acre Blythewood Community Association property, he left the town unleveraged with no debt, no millage and millions in its coffers. See obituary on page 8.

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