Metolius residents could be faced with a City Council recall question for the second time in as many years.
This time, the mayor and three of five councilors have been targeted for the way they handled a recent dustup involving the city’s use of a toy train built by a convicted child molester.
“(Mayor) Carl Elliott has brought shame and disgrace to the residents of the City of Metolius,” reads the recall application filed with the state by the group Friends of Metolius.
“He publicly disrespected the victim of child abuse and pushed forward his agenda against common decency and integrity.”
Last week, Friends of Metolius filed paperwork with the Oregon Secretary of State’s office to petition to hold recall elections for Elliott, Council President Patty Wyler and Councilors Dan Dulaney and Denise Keeton.
To trigger a special election to recall the four councilors, the Friends of Metolius must collect 43 signatures for each within 90 days. At the moment, the group has no specific date for the special election.
A representative of the group said it isn’t going after the remaining two councilors, Candi Canga and Ema Urieta, because their terms are up at the end of the year and both have said they will not run again.
A seventh seat on the council is vacant.
In early 2019, the city bought a four-car wooden train for $500, unaware it had a dark origin. The council spent $2,500 refurbishing it before learning it had been built by Richard Eugene Pickett, now serving a 36-year prison sentence for sexually abusing his stepdaughter over an 8-year period.
Pickett’s victim, Cassie Ruwaldt, now 29, attended a March council meeting and shared her story. She asked the council to get rid of the train. Despite this, the council voted unanimously on July 7 to display it outside city hall.
The Bulletin reported on the issue July 17, and councilors were inundated with angry calls and emails. That night, Elliott instructed a public works employee to destroy the train and haul it to a landfill.
The next week, an emergency meeting was held so the council could retroactively approve Elliott’s decision to destroy city property. The meeting lasted nearly four minutes, and no public comment was taken.
Friends of Metolius is led by former city Councilor Tryna Muilenberg, who helped organize the recall of John Chavez as mayor in 2019. Chavez was ousted after it was revealed he withheld information about two arrests. Following the recall election, Elliott, as council president, assumed the title of mayor.
If the required signatures are collected, the recall vote could be close. Chavez was elected by a margin of one vote in 2018 (edging Muilenberg), and the recall passed by 53 votes.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Muilenberg, who intends to run for mayor in November, asks that interested residents contact her by phone at 541-325-2269 to minimize door-to-door contact.
"(Mayor) Carl Elliott has brought shame and disgrace to the residents of the City of Metolius," "He publicly disrespected the victim of child abuse and pushed forward his agenda against common decency and integrity."
The the most factually accurate statement I have read all day. And I've been ready sworn declarations all day!
And for those actions he should face either censure by the city council or recall.
It's too bad his former and perhaps future (this November) political opponent is involved.
Former mayor John Chavez paid an appropriate price for his hubris.
At the same time, he had already made a political enemy in Ms. Muilenberg, with her MBA from the University of Oregon and many years of running a B&B in Madras.
“Muilenberg, who ran against Chavez in the last election in November 2018, lost the three-way race for mayor by one vote, with 90 votes to Chavez's 91, and Foncie "Carl" Elliott's 76 votes. If Chavez were to step down, she said, Elliott, who is the council president, would take over as mayor.”
It had to be hard losing the election by one vote.
And then have (Mayor) Carl Elliott step in to replace Chavez when Elliott, in the three-way race, only garnered 76 votes to Muilenberg’s 90.
Oh, you have to love truly small-town politics.
Also, the “Friends of Metolius” should not be confused with “Friends of the Metolius” (see below”.
Friends of the Metolius is a non-profit conservation organization that serves to protect a legacy of Oregon’s heritage, the Metolius Basin, with its unique qualities of water, forest and wildlife, its diversity, and its spiritual values, for future generations.
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