Dont put your pens down yet, Hermiston voters theres another important ballot coming in the mail.
The Hermiston Governmental Reform Committee has put the fate of five public officials in your hands for a special election on June 5. Ballots are being delivered to the post office Friday and will hit mailboxes in the next few days.
Mayor Bob Severson and councilors Frank Harkenrider, Jackie Myers, Rod Hardin and Joe Harn are on the block, and have all opted to ride out the special election rather than step down. They have all submitted rebuttals to the elections office denying the allegations of negligence, dishonesty and cronyism.
Whichever side of the fence youre on, the mayor and councils action in the face of the recall have been admirable. They had a chance to stack the deck if one councilor had stepped down, the other seven could have quickly picked a replacement and created a quorum to pick replacements if indeed councilors were recalled.
Instead, they have stated their cases, denied the accusations and are standing their ground.
For the record, Dave Drotzmann, who was elected Tuesday, will become the new mayor on Jan. 1, 2013, regardless of what happens with the recall. Severson didnt seek re-election.
Hardin and Harns terms will expire at the end of the year, which means they will have to be re-elected in November to serve past this year. Harkenrider and Myers terms will run through 2014.
Two other seats Brian Misners and Michael Calames will also be up for election in November.
We have decided to stay on the fence on the issue. We can understand the anger and disappointment from the reform committee, which has set out to tear down and rebuild the Hermiston city government. There has been a troubling lack of transparency, and we still dont totally buy that the council and mayor had no idea of the problems with Police Chief Dan Coulombe that led to the union complaint against him. If they didnt, it was a failure on their part.
On the other hand, there has been no criminal or official wrongdoing alleged against the mayor or councilors. If they havent been doing their jobs, its up to someone else to replace them in the next election. Jumping in mid-term and trying to shake things up this dramatically should be reserved for far more serious indiscretions.
But we, like the mayor and council, will let the voters decide. If you feel the accusations are egregious enough to warrant immediate upheaval, then by all means mark your ballot that way. Apparently enough of Hermiston felt strongly enough to sign the recall petition, so well defer.
Regardless of the outcome, wed like to see the reform committee take the same effort it used in collecting signatures and putting a recall on the ballot to seek out strong candidates for the November election.
After all, getting rid of bad councilors is only worthwhile if they are replaced with better ones.