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Recall effort started against Gold Hill councilors

GOLD HILL — Angry with City Council members for allowing a medical marijuana dispensary inside city limits, a group of citizens say they'll force a recall vote on four councilors who favored such facilities.

The recall effort is spearheaded by Budget Committee member Deb West and former councilor Christine Alford. West said the primary reason for the recall was council's "complete and utter disregard for the city's existing land-use laws."

Councilors Margaret Dials, Lorraine Parks, Doug Reischman and Gus Wolf voted Monday to include marijuana dispensaries as a permitted use in the downtown, and they approved another measure to outline business-license requirements for the controversial facilities.

"This could have been so simple. All they had to do was put this to a vote of the people, and they chose not to," West said.

"They made all kinds of excuses as to why the people should not have a voice in this. And that's what brought this recall to the forefront," she said.

West, who moved to the city three years ago, said dispensaries should not be permitted in the city due to a lack of available law enforcement.

Wolf and Dials declined Friday to comment on recall efforts. Parks and Reischman did not immediately return calls from the Mail Tribune.

Not included in the recall are councilors Donna Silva and Chris Stanley, who voted against the dispensary ordinances.

Brie Malarkey, owner of Breeze Botanicals, the dispensary in question, said she was "very disappointed" to hear about the recall.

"Not only were the city councilors following the directions of the state Legislature, they voted yes for regulated economic development and, most importantly, they voted yes for the patients in Jackson and Josephine counties," Malarkey said.

"I thought, with their vote, they sent a positive message to Southern Oregon that there are leaders in Gold Hill who have worked hard to lead. It's just too bad a recall attempt is being made without giving me a chance to prove I can operate this dispensary as promised."

Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker said the recall petitioners, following approval of recall paperwork, would have 90 days to gather the required signatures.

Walker said the election could cost the city between $1,000 and $1,500, or between $1 and $1.50 per ballot sent out. With four officials being targeted for recall, the petitioners must gather separate signatures for each of the four.

If enough signatures are gathered, councilors facing recall would be given five days to either resign or submit a "statement of justification," taking the matter to a vote.

West said she didn't need 90 days to collect signatures.

"As soon as we get the go-ahead, we will have the signatures collected in about one week — probably less," claimed West. "This is a very motivating issue."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.