Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Thursday, Nov. 2 @ 4 p.m. / Elections, Oregon
Organizer Behind Brookings Recall Doesn't Know Who Will Replace Mayor, Two City Councilors If Ouster Succeeds
Brookings has until Tuesday to decide if Mayor Ron Hedenskog and council members Ed Schreiber and Michelle Morosky should keep their seats.
Voters have submitted a total of 1,422 ballots to the Curry County Elections Division as of Thursday. And while the chief petitioner in the recall effort against the mayor in a recent announcement mentioned the need to recruit replacements for the three elected officials if they lose their seats, there are no official leads as to who those candidates would be, he said.
“It seems like most of the people I’ve spoken to wanted to be listened to,” Dennis Triglia told the Wild Rivers Outpost. “A lot of times a very small group of people can influence the Council whereas a very large group of people may not be able to influence the Council. It’s tricky. But I hope someone will come forward with a vision for Brookings….”
Triglia, a former councilman, has led the recall effort against Hedenskog, while residents Hank Cunningham and Debra Worth are chief petitioners in efforts to oust Schreiber and Morosky respectively.
They filed their recall petitions about seven months after Hedenskog, Schreiber and Morosky voted to reinstate City Manager Janell Howard’s employment following her plea of no contest to theft charges stemming from a July 4, 2022 shoplifting incident from the Brookings Fred Meyer store.
In an Oct. 26 group email to those supporting the recall, Triglia said proponents should recruit candidates to replace Hedenskog, Schreiber and Morosky.
“We are seeking City of Brookings residents to consider running for office and things will happen quickly,” he wrote, “so better to plan in advance.”
The Brookings recall ballot only asks voters if Hedenskog, Schreiber and Morosky should be recalled. If all three are recalled, a special election would be required to replace them, Howard told the Wild Rivers Outpost.
Until then, the City Council would not have a quorum and couldn’t operate, Howard said. She said she wasn’t aware of any candidates that have indicated their willingness to throw their hat into the ring should the recall efforts be successful.
Under the Brookings City Charter, a vacancy on the Council is required to be filled within 60 days by an appointment by a majority of the Council or through a special election if a quorum isn’t present.
One issue that may have to be delayed depending on the outcome of the recall is the Brookings City Council’s review of a city abatement notice against St. Timothy Episcopal Church.
At the Council’s Oct. 23 meeting, its members gave the church’s attorney, Allison Reynolds, about seven days to research the various levels of residential zoning in their land-use code. Between those seven days and time for city staff to review any further documentation in those proceedings, Howard said it would take about 21 days for the matter to return before the Council again.
That delay would be longer without a quorum, she told Councilors.
While he and other proponents of the recall don’t have leads on potential replacements for the mayor and two city council members, Triglia said he thinks a potential lack of a quorum will probably be short-lived.
“The city might be limited to whatever Janell Howard’s spending authority is on her own,” he said. “If the city manager is still there, it would be down to two counselors. They couldn’t do anything until a special election is held.”
Hedenskog, Morosky and Schreiber had until Oct. 9 to either resign or submit statements of justification on why they should keep their seats.
In his statement, Hedenskog, who was appointed to the Planning Commission in 2005, said he’s been on the City Council for about 15 years and will “retire as the longest serving official in Brookings’ history.”
“Working with the city manager for 14 years with her spotless employment record was reason to give her a second chance,” Hedenskog wrote. “We removed her from finance directorship, gave a revised contract that favors the city and returned her to work with no raise.”
The recall, he wrote, is unnecessary, expensive and, if successful “would cause chaos to city operations.”
In his statement, Schreiber states that his vote to reinstate Howard as city manager saved taxpayers “an unnecessary $242,000 expense.” Howard’s contract is up for renewal next year, he said.
Schreiber argues that if it’s successful the recall would make Brookings city government dysfunctional.
“The recall petitioners are asking city taxpayers to spend approximately $300,000 (recall election+special election would cost taxpayers approximately $60,000) and dismiss our three most experienced elected officials and our official city manager,” he said. “It’s a terrible and expensive mistake.”
Morosky also argues that Howard’s new contract corrected “insufficiencies in the old contract that limited our options in this situation.” Morosky also said the recall elect, special election to find replacement City Councilors and Howard’s termination would cost the city $300,000.
“My vote against terminating our city manager immediately without cause was based on the financial impact, the continued efficient functionality of our city, legal counsel input and employee and community input,” Morosky said in her justification statement.