The Decision to Appoint the Council Vacancy

At Wednesday night’s city council meeting, I gave a speech explaining the importance of postponing the appointment to the soon-to-be vacant council seat of Councilor Rocha until after the election, and then I made a motion to do so. No one seconded it, and there was no council discussion on the topic. Then 4 citizens proceeded to testify that they thought we should postpone the appointment and/or appoint someone who is well qualified and nonpartisan; and 2 said it was fine to just appoint now. There has been a growing discontent among citizens about the council’s decision to rush the appointment process and ignore the voters, who are in the process of deciding who they want on council via the ballot.

In addition to the 8 letters to the editor requesting we postpone the appointment (which is a recent letter to the editor record) and many letters/testimonies given at the past two council meetings, many citizens that I’ve seen around town have whispered to me that they think I did the right thing by disagreeing with the majority a few weeks ago when they decided to appoint before the election.

So last night the mayor proceeded with the interview process of the 5 candidates. City council is a nonpartisan position. There were a lot of qualified candidates who have a lot of outreach skills and community ideas. The majority voted to appoint Tyler Smith, the Vice President of the Republican Party of Oregon, who is quoted on a YouTube video at a Clackamas Freedom & Prosperity meeting last year as saying: “Help us get the Democrats out of office.”

This is a nonpartisan position. Our job is to do what’s best for the all of the citizens of Canby. It concerns and disappoints me that this applicant has a clear and known agenda but was appointed in the middle of a contested election nonetheless. He will be sworn in on November 2, just 6 days before the final election results come in. At the conclusion of my speech I asked my fellow councilors: “Why do you think it’s in the best interest of the city to appoint tonight rather than delaying it for 2 weeks?” The mayor told me that there could be no discussion on the topic until after I made a motion, so I did, but because there was no second, there was no discussion and no vote.

It is clear to me that this council has become too narrow and insular in its thinking if it so casually ignores the frustration of a large number of the public without even giving an explanation of its decision. There has been a lot of talk about the appearance of cronyism on city council. Last night was the perfect opportunity to address this publicly and exercise common sense, but instead the appearance of cronyism was reinforced. It was a sad sight to see.

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