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Clatskanie mayor won't be recalled

Recall election lacks votes to replace mayor on Clatskanie City Council

Diane Pohl is still the mayor of Clatskanie.


Pohl evaded a recall earlier this week after a special election to recall her from the Clatskanie City Council failed to pass.

Pohl faced sharp criticism after the city’s police chief, Marvin Hoover, was allowed to resign with four months’ pay amid an investigation into alleged racist comments he made in front of other officers.

Pohl published a letter thanking Hoover for his service to the city, even after allegations surfaced in an official complaint from two police officers of Hoover comparing African-Americans to “monkeys.”

In the complaint, which was filed with the state’s Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, a Clatskanie police officer stated he told Hoover about an arrest he made in Rainier, in which he helped an officer from the neighboring jurisdiction arrest an African-American woman who said she wanted to file a complaint against the officers.

Hoover responded with racist remarks, calling African-Americans animals, moving around the room while making ape noises and then singing the words to Civil War-era anthem, “Dixie,” according to the officer’s report. The report was corroborated by another officer who was present in the police department break room where the exchange allegedly occurred.

Hoover was placed on administrative leave while the city investigated the claims, but Hoover resigned before the investigation could be finished.

Pohl said the city acted in accordance with advice from legal counsel, after an attorney for the city reached a deal with Hoover to allow him to resign with four months’ pay.

“I wrote a letter thanking him because some members of the community {thought} he had been a good chief, he had been a popular chief,” Pohl said Friday. “I did not, in that letter, condone what he did. I thanked him for his service and wished him a happy retirement. ...I’m sorry if some people got their feelings hurt, but I feel we handled a very high-profile situation the best we could.”

Clatskanie voters voted 53 percent to 47 percent in opposition to the recall. Election night results indicate 403 people voted in the special election, with 214 opposed to the recall and 189 in favor.

Pohl said Friday that she’s eager to continue serving the city and “move forward.”

“I was grateful and glad that it was over,” she said of the recall election. “It’s been the one thing that I have always tried hard to maintain, was Clatskanie is such a strong community. Division just doesn’t please me at all. This whole issue all around former chief Hoover, right, wrong, or indifferent, just made a huge division in the city.”

After Hoover’s exit, the city of Clatskanie released a statement condemning the alleged conduct.

Clatskanie City Manager Greg Hinkelman said city staff would undergo diversity training. Pohl said the council members will also take the training.