These three have created costly and disruptive setbacks for Cornelius.

Team 3, elected to the Cornelius City Council last November, has been a political train wreck and it's time for voters to start cleaning up the mess.

The trouble started early. As a mayoral candidate, Neal Knight promised to work with former city manager Dave Waffle, but began gunning for him even before he took office and fired him in early June, with the backing of councilors Jamie Minshall and Mari Gottwald.

Why was Waffle, who had put the city on the road to fiscal stability, dismissed? Knight wouldn't say. Minshall couldn't say and Gottwald refuses to talk to the press or anyone who challenges her in public.

Best anyone can tell, Knight just didn't like the guy.

As a result, the city had to pay Waffle a fat severance check and is on the line for more cash as it launches a search for a replacement.

That's one big reason voters need to retire Team 3 now. The five-member council will begin interviewing city manager candidates in January and it's doubtful any serious contenders will apply with the current council lineup, given the long list of damage the Gang of Three has wracked up in its brief tenure. Here's a list of low-lights.

• Team 3 vowed to eliminate the General Services Fee (a bad idea) but never voted to take such a drastic step. They then criticized Waffle for not gutting the fee, even though he had no authority to do so.

• The mayor is the subject of an internal investigation for potential city charter violations, stemming from his personal efforts to influence the actions of city staff members, including Waffle.

• The mayor is under investigation by the state elections office for knowingly giving false information.

• Team 3 is trying to replace the city's law firm, Beery, Elsner and Hammond. Gottwald said attorney Paul Elsner lied to her but won't provide details. The search will cost the city around $16,000 and had to be restarted last week because earlier this summer Gottwald publicly stated that she had a preference for Elsner's replacement.

Knight's supporters are trying to cast this election as a contest between three populist politicians and entrenched City Hall bureaucrats. It's not.

This is a referendum on three people who have proven unable to move Cornelius forward and, in fact, have repeatedly created costly and disruptive setbacks.

Cornelius residents cannot afford to wait until the next election to get the city back on track.

Cut Knight and his two puppets loose. Now.

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