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Damascus group appeals lower court decision

Never let it be said that Chris Hawes gives up without a fight. As communications director for the Citizens Committee for Disincorporation, Hawes led charge to put the disincorporation of the city of Damascus on last November's ballot.

The measure to disincorporate failed, not because it didn't get the most votes, but because the election was ruled invalid because it was not a majority of all registered voters. In May, Clackamas County Circuit Judge Deanne Darling ruled that Hawes' challenge to the 2013 election to disincorporate was also invalid.

After the ruling, Hawes said he was determined to continue and “we are committed to ending this nightmare.”

Hawes' appeal of Darling's decision was filed with the Oregon Court of Appeals July 14, Hawes said in a statement.

“That election overwhelmingly favored disincorporation, but that victory for the citizens of Damascus was denied using a new and unique interpretation of election statutes by the attorneys for the city of Damascus,” Hawes said. “We believe the Circuit Court erred in its decision, and has failed to document language in statute, legislative history, or the Oregon Constitution that supports the city’s interpretation, or the Circuit Court’s decision.”

Prior to changes made to standardize the election process in 1983, disincorporation was always a simple majority of votes cast, Hawes said, and there is no record of any action to create the “super majority” the city applied to the November 2013 election.

“We are confident that the Court of Appeals will agree with the position that the people of the city of Damascus voted successfully to disincorporate the city on Nov. 5 under both statute and the Oregon constitution,” Hawes wrote in a press release. “It is hoped the court will order the city to comply with the overwhelming vote by the people and restore electoral integrity to the process.”

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