Weston mayor faces recall — again

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WESTON — For the second time in three years, Weston voters will head to the polls to decide the fate of their mayor.

Citizens filed a petition for Mayor Duane Thul’s recall with the Umatilla County Elections Office. Ballots will be mailed on Aug. 23 and must be returned by Sept. 10.

Chief petitioner Wesley Rachor said he filed the petition July 23 on behalf of a group of citizens who are concerned about government transparency, budgeting and a number of other issues.

The flier being distributed by the group lists 10 separate complaints, including allegations that the mayor allows departments to run without accountability and does not communicate with fellow council members and department heads.

Thul called the group’s allegations “fictitious.”

His statement of justification, which elected officials in Oregon are required to submit to county elections offices in the event of a recall attempt, stated he is only one vote on a five-member City Council, and points out that the majority of council decisions during his time in office have been unanimous.

During Thul’s tenure as mayor, Weston’s cash balance has fallen from $1,042,000 at the end of the 2008 fiscal year to $420,336 at the end of the 2012 fiscal year, according to audit reports submitted to the Oregon Auditor’s Office.

While the group seeking a recall listed the declining balance as a concern, Thul said that since taking office he has used city funds to undertake important projects which had been delayed for too long, including restorations to City Hall.

Weston previously held a recall election for Thul on Dec. 6, 2011, during the mayor’s first term in office. Citizens made many of the same complaints about transparency and government spending, but Thul held on to his seat with 72 percent of the vote.

He was re-elected as mayor in 2012 with 62 percent of the vote.

Debbie Michael, a citizen involved with the recall effort, said no specific event caused the group to petition for a recall. She said they were seeking a recall now because Oregon law prohibits recalls until an elected official has been in office for at least six months.

She said she voted to recall Thul in 2011, and that her concerns were essentially the same.

“Nothing’s changed, just more people are aware of what’s going on,” she said.

Thul said that multiple recall attempts have hurt Weston’s reputation, making it difficult for the city to receive grant funding or other assistance which could promote growth.

“People all over the state of Oregon know our reputation for turmoil,” he said. “It’s disgusting. It just kills a small town.”

Rachel Alexander can be reached at rachelalexander@wwub.com or 509-526-8363.


This article was modified on August 15, 2013, to reflect the following correction/clarification:

Due to reporter error, Debbie Michael's last name was mistakenly printed as Miller in the original version of this article.

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