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Council members dodge recall

GOLD HILL — An effort to recall two-thirds of the city council failed Monday night with a whopping 44.5 percent voter turnout.

Likely a record for the city with a history of recall elections — boasting nearly a dozen since the early 1980s — some 298 of 670 registered voters turned out to weigh in on the matter of recalling four of the city's six elected officials.

Slated for recall after voting to allow a medical marijuana dispensary to open up shop in the downtown, and simultaneously lifting a year-long moratorium of medical marijuana facilities, council members Margaret Dials, Lorraine Parks, Doug Reischman and Gus Wolf escaped recall with about 60 percent of the votes against and 40 percent in favor.

Results were posted shortly after 8 p.m. for the special election, with Jackson County Elections clerk Chris Walker noting a solid turnout with — final verification withholding — only one signature challenged.

"Most standalone elections have very limited turnout, but Gold Hill had ample turnout," noted Walker.

"The voters have spoken," he said

Chief recall petitioner Deb West, a budget committee member who moved to the city three years ago, voiced disappointment at the results but said she was glad citizens were "at least given a chance to vote."

"I knew the votes were going to be close. I knew that we solidly had 100 people in our court. but it was going to be a matter of getting to the other ones out there," West said.

"The other side was relentless with news media and they kept trotting (Breeze Botanicals owner Brie Malarkey) out there as this poor victim that everybody was being mean to. The people have spoken, so this is apparently the direction Gold Hill is going to go."

Council members voiced gratitude for voters who cast their ballots in opposition of the recall effort.

Lorraine Parks said she was "glad to be able to get to finish out my term of office. and hopefully we can get back to the business at hand."

Council member Doug Reischman thanked citizens who voted on a community "Neighborhood Watch" Page while councilwoman Margaret Dials thanked voters for trusting the city council "to do the right thing for them."

Perhaps the council member with the most years under his belt, and who's likely seen the most recall elections, Gus Wolf voiced appreciation for citizens' confidence in those facing the recall attempt.

"I'd like to thank the citizens for their support in this recall. I trusted that they would do the right thing for our community," Wolf said.

"Henry Ford said, 'Don't find fault. Find a remedy.' I think all four councilors believe it's time to get back to work on the more important issues facing Gold Hill."

West — and co-petitioner Christine Alford, a former councilwoman — conceded that voters, said West, "made their decision."

"At least they got to vote," Alford said.

"I thank Deb West for working as hard as she did and for allowing the people to vote on it."

West said her only regret was that the recall focused solely on the dispensary issue, in terms of ballot literature, when citizens who signed petitions to allow the recall election voiced concerns about a slew of issues.

"The recall wasn't only about the dispensary, but when we were writing the petition it was a big focus, so it ended up focusing in that way," West said.

"At the end of the day, we did it the way we did it and that's that. There's a lot more to be said about public confidence and how citizens feel about having a council that doesn't listen. But at least now they all got their big pat on the back for being terrible public servants."

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