Updated: Weston mayor retains seat after recall attempt

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WESTON — Mayor Duane Thul will keep his seat after a second attempt to recall him failed.

Preliminary election results from Tuesday’s count show Thul holding on to his seat with 57 percent of the vote, with 89 votes to recall him and 120 to retain him, according to Umatilla County figures.

“I want to thank the people that supported me,” said Thul. “It’s a little bit disappointing that so many people believe the innuendos.”

Petitioners accused Thul of being rude and disrespectful to residents and council members, and of spending too much from the city’s general fund without considering other options.

“The allegations they make about budget items — if those were true, the auditors would crucify you,” said Thul. “These things are done collectively; they’re not done individually.”

The margin of victory was closer than in the 2011 attempt to recall Thul, which the mayor won with 72 percent of the vote. Thul was re-elected to a four-year term as mayor in November 2012.

Chief petitioner Wesley Rachor was surprised by the results, and said many of the citizens he spoke to didn’t mail their ballots until Saturday, which he thought might be too late to be counted. Under Oregon law, ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on election day in order to count.

Rachor said he was discussing other options with the recall group, but that it was “very possible” they would initiate another recall attempt in 90 days, the earliest allowed by Oregon law.

In the meantime, he said recall supporters would consider other options for changing government in Weston, though they hadn’t come up with any specific plans yet.

“I really hope that with how close the election was he may open his eyes, start hearing what the people want instead of ignoring them,” said Rachor.

Turnout for the recall election was 63 percent, slightly higher than the 61 percent who voted in the 2011 recall attempt.

Thul said he hoped the residents of Weston who are opposed to further recalls would make their position clear.

“If the silent people around town don’t speak up, (those who want a recall) will eventually succeed,” the mayor said.

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

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