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Morten reelected as St. Helens City Council president

4-year president gets unanimous support of councilors

Photo Credit: MARK MILLER - Council President Doug Morten (left) makes his pitch for reelection at a St. Helens City Council meeting Wednesday, Jan. 21, as Mayor Randy Peterson (center) and City Administrator John Walsh (right) listen.The St. Helens City Council unanimously reelected Douglas Morten as its president on Wednesday, Jan. 21.

Both Morten and Councilor Keith Locke expressed interest in serving as council president in 2015 when Mayor Randy Peterson asked which of the four city councilors wanted the job. But Locke was lukewarm, opting to withdraw after Councilor Ginny Carlson said she would like to hear each candidate's pitch.

“I'm tired, and I'm just going to relinquish it to Doug,” Locke said.

Morten, who has served as council president since 2011, said he has sought to bring a “team approach” to the City Council.

“I'm proud of what I've done,” said Morten. “The most important thing is to lead by example.”

Morten listed several actions, including reducing the stipend for the council president and mayor and opting out of the utility discount program offered to seniors, that he has taken to set an example as president.

The election was conducted by voice vote. While St. Helens' city charter provides for council president elections to be done by balloting, Peterson said using ballots would conflict with Oregon open meetings law requiring each councilor's vote to be disclosed to the public.

“The city of Scappoose just went through this about two weeks ago, and that's what came out of that,” said Peterson, referring to the Scappoose City Council's use of ballots to elect Jeff Erickson as its council president earlier this month. The city of Scappoose disclosed how each councilor voted two days later, after the Spotlight submitted a public records request for the information.

Carlson nominated Morten for another two years as St. Helens' council president.

According to the city charter, the council president's duties include acting as mayor when the incumbent is unable to serve, as well as presiding over council meetings in the mayor's absence.

Locke is a former council president, holding the job before Morten was elected to the post in January 2011.