Petitioning for recall of an elected official is sometimes necessary, particularly if there is gross corruption or misconduct. Sutherlin may be facing a recall and I believe I need to warn the citizens of the potential negative effects as I went through two recalls while serving as a city councilor and mayor of Sutherlin in the 1980s.
Before addressing the ill-effects it may have on the city, I will share my perspective of what it may do to the person(s) being recalled through the character assassinations that have already started.
The editor of the now-defunct local paper, the Sun Tribune, told me she made it her personal goal to sell more papers through attacking me.
The low point came when she wrote an editorial comparing me to a man who was convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering a local 15-year-old girl, saying I was of the same mind-set as her murderer.
The brake lines to my car were cut one night and shortly after moving out of town, our house burned down. Some of my friends asked if I thought it might have been my political opponents (it was not). Such was the mind-set of some in the community.
I’m not saying similar things will happen, only noting that they can and have happened. Think about the gossip you hear; seek out the facts.
For the targets of recalls, they may win, but there is long-lasting personal effects which are hard to deal with for some time.
Sutherlin, as a city, was torn apart by the recalls. During this time period the citizens became so disheartened with city government that the city was shut down twice from budgets failing to pass. Adding to this was the cost to the city of having the recalls, now estimated at perhaps over $4,000 of the taxpayers’ money.
The News-Review, in its top ten stories of 1985, listed Sutherlin in the No. 8 spot for the recalls. Besides me, four council members were recall targets that year. What were the charges?
For the councilors it was that they “voted against the wishes of the majority of the citizens.” I was charged with “obstruction of city business.” Sound familiar?
It took years for the city to get back on its feet. Trust is an easy thing to lose and very hard to get back, I know.
During the recall, the city manager advocated to vote for my recall. That was not good.
How did the recalls go? None of the recalls were successful and very few minds changed, only hardened. However, after the new city council came on in January, it was not long until they fired the city manager.
Something to consider since the recall petitioners have indicated the cause of this recall was about how the city manager is being treated. If the petitioners are correct, then only the city manager, in this case, can stop the recall.
My opinion is he should, in the best interest of the city and himself, do whatever is in his power to stop the recall. Whether he does so or not, he needs to consider that he may be held solely responsible for everything that transpires from here on out.
Clyde Blakely of Sutherlin served on the Sutherlin City Council in 1983-84 and was mayor in 1985-86. He is a semi-retired registered nurse who worked at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center, as a travel nurse and a college nursing instructor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.