Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Tuesday, Nov. 14 @ 2:38 p.m. / Oregon
Brookings Recall: Hedenskog, Morosky Quit Before Vote Is Certified; Remaining City Council Appoints New Colleague to Maintain Quorum
Nearly a week after a recall ousted three of their colleagues, the Brookings City Council appointed school counselor Kristi Fulton to one of the vacant seats Monday.
The appointment came after Mayor Ron Hedenskog and Councilor Michelle Morosky, two of the three recalled officials, resigned. The third recalled councilor, Ed Schreiber, presided over the meeting, but abstained from voting for Fulton’s appointment noting that he’s a “lame duck.”
“The rule is you need a majority of the quorum,” Schreiber said, referring to the vote to appoint Fulton to the seat Morosky vacated. “Two is a majority because we have a quorum of three tonight.”
The new three-member City Council chose to leave the mayor position and second Council seat vacant and to start the application process to seek replacements. According to City Manager Janell Howard, applications will be at Brookings City Hall for a full two weeks. They will also be on the city’s website.
Applications for those vacant seats are due at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 28.
Once the deadline for submitting those applications has passed, the City Council will interview each candidate during a public meeting, Howard said.
The resignations of Hedenskog and Morosky and the appointment of Fulton to the City Council were added to Monday’s agenda the day before. Councilor Andy Martin said filling one of the vacant seats as soon as possible was necessary so city government could continue to operate.
Martin and his colleague, Isaac Hodges, were the two City Councilors that didn’t get recalled.
The last-minute addition to the agenda wasn’t lost to one member of the public. Jennifer White told Councilors that she was concerned about a lack of transparency. The proposal — “the consideration of potential elected official vacancies” — did not outline what the purpose or intent of the Council is, she said.
White urged the City Council not to take action and to allow voters to have more time to vet a potential candidate.
“Voters deserve to know who is being considered, who he or she will be,” she said. “Voters should have time to vet the person and give something of this importance thought and (have) time to react.”
Schreiber told White that he and his colleagues hadn’t seen the new agenda item. Right after White spoke, the city manager handed Schreiber, Martin and Hodges their former colleagues’ resignation letters.
According to unofficial results the Curry County Elections Office released Nov. 7 — the deadline voters had to submit their ballots — all three recall efforts were successful.
Out of a total of 1,811 ballots cast, 70.96 percent voted in favor of recalling Hedenskog. Out of a total of 1,814 ballots cast, 68.47 percent voted yes to recalling Schreiber. And out of a total of 1,811 ballots cast, 69.63 percent voted in favor of recalling Morosky.
Dennis Triglia, a former city councilor, filed the recall petition against Hedenskog, while residents Hank Cunningham and Debra Worth petitioned to oust Schreiber and Morosky respectively. Their efforts came after Hedenskog, Schreiber and Morosky voted to reinstate Janell Howard’s employment as city manager following a 2022 shoplifting incident from the Brookings Fred Meyer store.
Just before the recall deadline of Nov. 7, Triglia said he didn’t know who would replace the three elected officials if they were recalled.
In a Nov. 11 email inviting people to a post-recall celebration, proponent Pamela Thorsch said “now it will be the time to identify possible candidates to step into those positions. Which we’d also like to garner input and discuss.”
Hodges and Martin said they have been discussing the issue with community members since last week’s recall deadline too. They also reached out to City Attorney Lori Cooper to find out what happens next and what the timeline is for filling the vacancies on the City Council.
Noting that Hedenskog, Morosky and Schreiber would have kept their seats until the results of the Nov. 7 election were certified, Martin said he wanted to maintain a quorum by appointing someone on Monday and then deciding how to fill the remaining two seats.
“My biggest concern right now is leaving the city without a functioning government for our public safety agencies, for our public works department and all the city departments,” he said. “I’m not willing to wait 90 days, or even four months, for a decision to be made on something that needs to be made, sometimes in an emergency, in a day or two.”
Just before appointing Fulton, who is a school counselor at Brookings Harbor High School, Martin said both he and Hodges spoke to people who are interested in filling the vacant seats. He commended Fulton’s experience as a community member and her “knowledge of how the government works.”
“Your commitment to Brookings makes you a very positive person to fill this position and help the city move forward through this,” Martin told Fulton.
According to Howard, a Brookings City Councilor must be a resident within city limits for 12 months and be a registered voter. After Fulton took her seat, she joined her new colleagues in giving Howard direction to proceed with the application process for the remaining two positions.
Martin agreed to take on Schreiber’s former position as Council president, which allows him to preside over meetings and sign checks. Martin said he would take on that role until a full five-person City Council can revisit it.