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Ashland council to decide commissioner replacement process

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Ashland Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mike Gardiner announced Jan. 12 he intends to resign effective Jan. 31. The commission awaits a determination from Ashland City Council on the replacement process before initiating formal next steps.

During the APRC business meeting, Gardiner acknowledged a challenging time for the group to be facing new hurdles, as the issue of securing long-term funding remains the commission’s top priority. Gardiner was first elected to the Parks Commission in 2002.

“It pains me to advise the commission that I’ve decided to resign my position effective the end of this month,” Gardiner said Jan. 12. “I have served for the better part of 20 years on this commission and I’m passionate about what the commission does and what we’re all about, and for personal reasons, I just find it difficult to continue on.”

“I’m in 100% support of APRC and will continue to help out any way that I can, but I am unable to complete my term in office,” he said.

Parks Director Michael Black described Gardiner’s resignation as a loss to the community.

“I think we’re losing a great advocate and a very dedicated and passionate person,” Black said.

Commissioners and Black thanked Gardiner for his years of service, institutional knowledge, diligence and follow-through.

Parks commissioners are elected officers per Article 3 of the city charter, which states that vacancies must be filled within 60 days by the City Council selecting a qualified person. The appointee’s term of office takes effect immediately and lasts until a successor is chosen in the next election — this November, for Gardiner’s seat.

APRC is not governed by the same procedures as appointed commissions and boards, which call for mayoral appointments, according to Ashland Municipal Code. The nomination process for a vacant APRC position is at the discretion of the City Council.

According to City Manager Joe Lessard, a request for direction from the council as to the process will be brought to a study session, pending receipt of Gardiner’s written resignation. In an email to councilors, Lessard said “past practice” for filling an APRC vacancy included the commission itself making a recommendation to the council.

A replacement was last called for in late 2012, when Gardiner was appointed after Rich Rosenthal transitioned from the commission to City Council. The current vacancy has yet to be publicized by city staff.

According to a Dec. 12, 2012, memo by then-Parks Director Don Robertson, the city recorder — in a presentation of process for commissioner appointment at a City Council study session — suggested that the commission post the vacancy “as soon as possible for a minimum of 10 days.”

“[The city recorder] said the application will be shared with council to keep them informed, and once the commission makes a recommendation for selection, it will need to go to council for final approval and appointment,” Robertson said in the memo.

Also during the Jan. 12 APRC meeting, Commissioner Rick Landt was selected as chair for 2022, with Jim Lewis as vice chair.

Reach reporter Allayana Darrow at adarrow@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497.