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Kight co-Citizen of Year for Troutdale

Selection follows recent censure by City Council
by: Contributed photo Troutdale Mayor Jim Kight

The Troutdale SummerFest selection committee Tuesday, May 31, picked Mayor Jim Kight as one of its Citizens of the Year, an award that recognizes Troutdale residents for community service.

Kight's selection follows a unanimous May 24 vote by the Troutdale City Council to censure him over his alleged misbehavior and violations of city rules during his tenures as mayor and city councilor.

Kight will be co-Citizen of the Year with Pastor David Brown of The Chapel in Troutdale. To be selected for the Citizen of the Year or Youth of the Year awards, nominees must reside in Troutdale and be nominated by another member of the community. Kight was nominated by William Flynn before the censure vote.

John Wilson, chairman of the Troutdale SummerFest Committee, said the committee wanted to recognize Kight for his record of volunteering as mayor.

'We're trying not to get caught up in the political end,' he said, noting that sitting politicians are eligible for the award and have won in the past.

Kight said his selection was 'interesting given the juxtaposition of everything that's been happening the past few weeks.'

Besides a recent budget oversight committee meeting, he said he has not spoken with the city councilors since the May 24 meeting.

'Obviously, (the committee has) been able to separate what's going on related to the council and the different accomplishments and the energy I'm putting into making Troutdale an attractive place to live and work,' he said.

Council President Doug Daoust said he thought the timing of the award was very suspect and appeared to him to be a political statement from the West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce, which oversees the SummerFest celebration.

Daoust, who has presented the awards at SummerFest for the past few years, said he would be willing to present the award to Brown but not to Kight, given Kight's relationship with the council, which he described as having 'gotten worse' since the censure vote. He cited Kight's appearance on KPAM radio after the censure vote to criticize the council, despite promising to have a better relationship with the council.

'If the chamber wants to present the award to Jim, they can do it,' he said.

Daoust said the City Council will hold a work session Wednesday night, June 15, to go over the specifics of the censure's resolution, including ways for Kight to improve his relationship with the council and city staff.

Karen Schaaf, a member of the selection committee, said the censure was brought up during the selection; when the committee voted, however, there was a tie between Kight and Brown. The committee then decided to recognize them both as Citizen of the Year, she said.

Schaaf said she voted for Kight to recognize his efforts in promoting the community and businesses. She acknowledged there might be some controversy with Kight's selection, given the censure, but felt it doesn't change the work he's done as mayor.

'It doesn't mean he's no longer a good citizen,' she said. 'Anyone who spends the time promoting the community and counteracting the negative is a citizen of the year in my view.'

In addition to Kight and Brown's selection as Citizen of the Year, the committee also named Cody Childs as its Youth Citizen of the Year. Kight nominated both Brown and Childs.

The awards will be presented at both SummerFest on July 16 and at the following City Council meeting.