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Stricker steps down from Talent council

TALENT — Mayoral candidate Darby Stricker resigned effectively immediately from the City Council at Wednesday’s meeting after she was informed a city charter provision requires candidates to resign when they seek another elected position.

Stricker is running against Mayor Bill Cecil for the four-year post. Stricker and Cecil contested the seat in November 2010 and he won by 62 votes. She was elected to a four-year council spot in November 2012.

City Manager Tom Corrigan said he found the provision Wednesday afternoon in the personnel section of the charter, rather than in council or elections sections, while doing research on appointment of a city hearings officer.

Elected officers who aspire to a different office must resign if their current term does not expire at the same time as the office sought, according to the provision. The resignation is to be made no later than the first date that ballot petitions become available for the office, which was July 17 this year. No mention is made of when resignations must become effective.

Winner of the mayoral contest will be sworn in at the first council meeting in January. Stricker’s council term ran until Dec, 31, 2016.

Corrigan conferred with City Attorney Lauren Sommers of Speer Hoyt, a Eugene law firm, and informed Cecil of the situation at 4 p.m. Stricker said she was told of the requirement just before the 6:30 p.m. council meeting by Cecil, with Council President Teresa Cooke present. Stricker was given a copy of the rule.

“It was inappropriate for my opponent to be handing down rules that led to my resignation,” said Stricker. Corrigan or Elections Officer Melissa Huhtala should have presented the information, she said.

Sommers told Corrigan the resignation could be given but with an effective date of Dec. 31.

“The resignation could be delivered immediately but it may be worded so that it isn’t effective until the end of the year, and Councilor Stricker can continue to serve until the time a duly elected mayor takes office,” Sommers said in a written response to Corrigan.

“We took the high road and we can only assume that the council (that approved the provision) meant that it would be effective at the end of the term,” said Corrigan. Whether she won or lost the mayor’s race, Stricker would have needed to resign, he said.

Cecil delivered that interpretation before the session, and Corrigan reiterated it in the meeting. But Stricker chose to resign immediately.

“This was required of me in July. I didn’t think I should write in my resignation date,” said Stricker. “I did not want to sit in violation of the charter. I don’t think it would benefit anyone to loosely interpret it.”

Stricker said if elected, she would like to end what she views as “around the edge interpretations” of the charter. Several sections of the document should have language cleaned up and refined, she said.

Each candidate is given a copy of the charter. Stricker said she read sections on elections and the City Council but not the personnel section.

The provision was put in so that potential candidates would be aware that a seat may become open and have a chance to file, said Cecil. The charter was last revised in 2005.The council will need to appoint a replacement for Stricker.

“This was just unfortunate that we didn’t pick that up,” said Cecil. “It’s unfair from Darby’s perspective and for someone who may want to run and the voters would get to vote for that position.”

Ballots go in the mail this weekend and need to arrive at the county Elections Office by 8 p.m. Nov. 4.

“That broke my heart. To try to maintain my composure (in the meeting) … was very difficult,” said Stricker. “My great hope is that I will put this behind me and refocus on my campaign.”

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. He can be reached at tboomwriter@gmail.com.