TALENT — An elections complaint against two city officials has been closed due to "insufficient evidence" of a violation, but the City Council has asked for a clearer statement of no wrongdoing or law violation.

TALENT — An elections complaint against two city officials has been closed due to "insufficient evidence" of a violation, but the City Council has asked for a clearer statement of no wrongdoing or law violation.

City Manager Jay Henry and Assistant City Recorder Suzanne Heinrich were accused by Councilwoman-elect Diane Glendenning of violating Oregon statues that prohibit public employees from political campaigning while on the job.

Glendenning raised concerns after Henry and Heinrich participated in a mayoral forum held by the League of Women Voters because the pair developed questions for the candidates at the league's request. Mayoral candidate Darby Stricker also filed a complaint with the same allegations.

A letter to Henry from Carla Corbin, compliance specialist with the Secretary of State's Election Division, said there was insufficient evidence of a violation, but did say the agency had "concerns" about public employees drafting questions for such events. The letter stated there was no finding of an election law violation.

At Wednesday's meeting, the City Council agreed to the draft of a letter that will be sent to Corbin after raising concerns that the decision might be interpreted to imply some wrongdoing where there was none.

"The response we received from the Secretary of State's office was somewhat vague," Councilman John Morrison said Wednesday. "We'd just like a better response from them."

The town's outgoing mayor also raised concerns.

"We were given a 'not guilty,' but 'not guilty' doesn't mean innocent," said Mayor Don Steyskal. "We want a straight-up-and-down response."

One of the accused employees said she was pleased with the agency decision.

"I'm really happy to be exonerated on that," said Heinrich. Henry declined to comment on the findings.

Glendenning, who will join the council in January, said she was glad she raised the issue.

"I still think I have a right to ask the questions, and I have a need to ask the questions," said Glendenning. "Because of the way I read the ordinance, it appeared to me like it could be a violation. I just left it in the hands of the office."

Election laws allow governments to host candidate forums and government employees to work on them. In his written response about the complaint, Henry said he developed the questions and they were reviewed by Heinrich.

Corbin, in a written response to a Mail Tribune question, noted a 2008 Secretary of State's document on public employee campaigning warns employees involved in forums to limit their activities to facilitating the event.

Andrea Cantou-Schomus, the Secretary of State's director of communication, said the agency would not comment on the city's letter requesting clarification until it received the letter.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.