Gearhart Mayor Dianne Widdop’s fate will be up to Gearhart voters in a special election March 26.
The election was called after Widdop refused to resign after learning that enough signatures had been verified to warrant a recall election.
The Clatsop County Elections Office verified 108 petition signatures, more than the 102 required to schedule a recall election, Widdop had five days to submit to the clerk’s office either a letter of resignation or a written statement of no more than 200 words to be printed on the election ballot. She submitted the statement two weeks ago.
In her statement, Widdop writes, “In almost 20 years as a city councilor and mayor, I have consistently made decisions that reflect the values of the city’s comprehensive plan. My goal has always been to preserve and enhance the livability of our community.
“As mayor, my focus has been to increase the transparency and accessibility of the city government. The city’s website has been improved to provide more information. Residents now can access the same information packet provided to city councilors. The city blog allows citizens to receive notices and information automatically.”
On Wednesday mornings, she said, she is at City Hall from 9 a.m. to noon for “Coffee With the Mayor,” which is an opportunity for people “to ask questions, express concerns or just chat.” At that time, citizens also can meet with the Gearhart police chief, fire chief, city administrator and other city staff. Since she was elected to office, she has missed only one Wednesday, she said.
Widdop started the weekly meetings in an effort to increase transparency in government, she said.
“I wanted people to feel like they could come in and talk,” she said. “In the event I’m recalled or when I leave office, I hope whomever take my place will initiate the same kind of thing.”
In her statement, Widdop also talked about her attendance at Gearhart Homeowners Assocation meetings and her effort to “increase Gearhart’s presence beyond purely city affairs” by working with other mayors and state representatives, inviting Port of Astoria and Clatsop Community College representatives to speak at council meetings and attending League of Oregon Cities and Mayors Association meetings.
“I do this as a volunteer unpaid elected official,” she said.
Some Gearhart residents have started putting up signs and wearing buttons in support of Widdop, which she said is gratifying. Other signs supporting the recall also are going up.
Harold Gable, the chief petitioner who is leading the recall effort, submitted 113 signatures to the clerk and elections department Feb. 11, according to elections technician Sheryl Holcom. The number of signatures was previously reported as 114.
Ballots will be mailed out March 6. The outcome of the election will be determined by a simple majority. Voters will have until 8 p.m. March 26 to submit their ballots either through the mail or at one of two drop sites: Gearhart City Hall at 698 Pacific Way in Gearhart or the Clatsop County Elections Office at 820 Exchange St., Suite 220, in Astoria. Postmarks are not considered.
For more info
To view Widdop’s full statement or the statement from Gable’s petition for recall, visit www.co.clatsop.or.us/clerk/page/march-26-2015-special-recall-election-city-gearhart-0.