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Vernonia recall ousts two councilors

Residents of Vernonia recalled two city councilors with a vote Thursday, Aug. 4, capping a months-long power struggle within the city.

The county completed the vote tabulation Aug. 5. Willow Burch and Marilyn Nicks both lost their elected positions by more than 73 percent of the vote.

It was the second recall vote of the summer for Vernonia residents. They successfully recalled former Councilor Kevin Hudson in June.

The recalls of Burch, Nicks and Hudson came as a result of their firing of former interim City Administrator Bill Haack.

Haack upset the three councilors during the spring with his decision to assist the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training in its investigation of Vernonia police Sgt. Michael Kay.

City Council fired Kay in June as a result of the DPSST investigation, which concluded that Kay had lied to his superiors and mischaracterized his K-9 certification.

Mayor Josette Mitchell and Councilor Randy Parrow are the remaining members of City Council and will have two weeks to fill the vacant positions. After that, city officials will make a decision on hiring a long-term city administrator.

Despite being fired in May, Haack is a finalist for that city administrator position.

Vernonia real estate agent Sharon Bernal led the recall effort and said she was 'thrilled' with the results.

'Now we can get the city back on track with its projects,' she said.