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Gladstone library lawsuit hangs in balance of recall election

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If voters recall Steve Johnson and Kim Sieckmann, it's likely council will appoint replacements who support ending the city's lawsuit with the county

Clackamas County officials will be closely watching the results of Gladstone's May 23 recall election that could spell the end of the city's lawsuit for $1.5 million in county library funding.

Steve JohnsonA narrow majority of the Gladstone City Council supports continuing the lawsuit, as demonstrated by last week's 4-3 vote. Two of the four City Council members who support the lawsuit, Steve Johnson and Kim Sieckmann, will face a recall vote of citizens in this Tuesday's election. Councilors Pat McMahon and Tom Mersereau also voted against dropping the lawsuit.

If voters choose to recall Johnson and Sieckmann, it's likely that the rest of City Council will appoint replacement councilors who support ending the city's lawsuit with the county. Mediation with the county has failed, so the next step would be a costly court battle, said Councilor Neal Reisner, the council's liaison to the Library Board who replaced Johnson.

At the May 9 council meeting, Johnson defended the costs of litigation by pointing out the large payment Gladstone could get from the county if the city won the lawsuit.

"How do you propose to take a pool of money that will barely build one library and now build two libraries?" Johnson asked.

Kim SieckmannThis month Gladstone Library Board members again asked City Council to drop the lawsuit to enforce the now-voided intergovernmental agreement.

"Additionally, the Gladstone Library Board requests that an effort be made by the council to heal the rift created by this lawsuit and to engage in cooperative efforts to support both communities in achieving new library facilities to enrich both communities and all library patrons," the board wrote to City Council.

Just because of opposition from library supporters, including the Gladstone Library Foundation, Sieckmann said it didn't make sense to switch gears on last year's unanimous council vote to launch the lawsuit.

"With the lawsuit looming, it makes the county at least consider our options," Sieckmann said.