Wednesday, January 23, 2013
To the citizens and the staff of Cascade Locks: This is my letter of resignation from the city council, effective Jan. 21, 2013.
I want to thank my fellow city council members, the great staff of the city, and the many citizens who have devoted their time and energy to improve the city for all of us.
I was fairly new to Cascade Locks when I applied for council. I applied because I love the Columbia Gorge, I care about this community and I felt I had some good ideas and positive energy to contribute.
While I have enjoyed moments on the council, a few citizens have been so aggressive in their personal attacks that I have no desire to continue to be involved in city government. When I applied for the council I had no intention of running for re-election. I saw it as an opportunity to contribute during a time of rebuilding. When I applied, I was appointed to a council position with three years remaining.
It has come to my attention that a few citizens believe that I improperly stayed in office past the November election. I want to be clear that this accusation is not true. I have been an honest and rule-abiding council member and was never advised to stand for election this past November — not by the city administrator, attorney, other council members, Hood River Elections, the judge who wrote the charter, the secretary of state or any other official.
I hope that by resigning I can help break the cycle of hurt feelings and recall elections. I have only recently learned about the long history of negative political back-and-forth. I hope our community can transcend this legacy. I can agree or disagree with anyone in town, and still want to be their neighbor and work in collaboration for the betterment of the community.
I wish the town the very best and I hope the council can find a positive path forward without continued gridlock and hurtful rhetoric. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.
Resigning from council
We discovered Cascade Locks about eight years ago, a beautiful little community in the heart of the Gorge. We saw the immense potential in this picturesque undiscovered gem. There could not be a better place to build a small art studio and gallery or to raise our two teenage boys. We wanted to be part of what would happen here.
In the last eight years my wife Debora and I have been on boards, panels, survey groups and committees. I have been on the Tourism Committee, the Planning Commission; I was the mayor and am currently on the City Council.
As such, I believe community involvement and investment as well as economic development are essential to the survival of this community. I have supported the things that I believe will be in the long-term best interest of the city and its citizens.
Not all agree with us or have supported this vision; the political climate in Cascade Locks has become increasingly contentious, making it all but impossible to accomplish even the smallest measure of success.
We have seen five city administrators and five mayors in eight years. As the pendulum swings back and forth it only deepens the chasm that separates our community.
I entered into the political realm with the best intentions, but have become an unwilling party in a dysfunctional and destructive system. It’s for these reasons I am resigning my position on the Cascade Locks City Council effective immediately.
We still have faith that Cascade Locks can succeed. There are many thoughtful, talented and dedicated people, both staff and citizens, who have worked to create a stronger Cascade Locks. My only regret is that the strong and healthy Cascade Locks we have been working for has not been fully achieved.
Dysfunction in politics
Once again political paralysis has reared its ugly head in Cascade Locks. While not a new phenomenon, it has over and over taken a very damaging toll on our community.
Most people in our town don’t get involved in politics. We have many good people that are busy with their day-to-day lives and activities. They choose to rely on the council members to represent them. Those representatives have repeatedly taken abuse over the years from a few people.
However, at the last city council meeting, a new height of abuse was achieved. Even newly seated council members, were lambasted for the appointment of council vacancies after the 2011 recall election.
My perception is that the complaints were motivated more by who was appointed rather than the length of appointment. This out-of-control meeting was allowed to continue by the newly seated mayor.
Look at the record: He is the only remaining member of the 2011 council, the very council who determined the process to appoint and the terms of office for the new members. Later, in 2012 a council that I was on used that same process to appoint a sole applicant. This mayor may not have been in favor of the original decision, but to blame five council members who were not even on council at the time the process was developed is unsupportable.
It is evident that the dysfunction and abuse will not change and will continue for the foreseeable future until people realize what it takes to make Cascade Locks a vibrant and successful community that cares about its future and residents.
I am joining those people in Cascade Locks who do not want to be a part of the dysfunction and this type of politics. I am resigning from my elected position on council. I recommend an immediate special election to fill any vacant seats and that the council finds a way to function with only elected members until then.
I believe appointments will only create continued mistrust. I wish the newly seated representatives well and hope that they achieve great things for our Community.
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Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest 2016
Kiteboarders in action during the pro competition Friday at the 16th Annual Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest in Stevenson. All photos by Ben Mitchell. Enlarge