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County OKs petition for Melton recall

Columbia River PUD director given the option to resign

COURTNEY VAUGHN - Columbia County Elections Official Don Clack stamps signature sheets for a petition to recall Columbia River PUD Director Craig Melton. Clack notified the recall group this week that the petition was certified for the ballot.  Columbia River People’s Utility District Director Craig Melton will be given the option to resign from the PUD board, or face a special election to recall him.

Dave Ehrenkranz, chief petitioner in the effort to recall Melton, was notified Wednesday that his recall group’s petition was certified for the ballot.

Melton has until 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, to respond to the petition with a resignation or statement of justification for why he should retain his seat.

Melton said last week that he has no plans to resign. The recall vote would likely be held in early March.

While the recall is targeted at Melton, petitioners allege missteps, improper board votes and irresponsible governing from Melton, along with Board Vice President Jake Carter and Director Harry Price.

The district has had an eventful and, at times, tumultuous year. Since Melton and Price took office at the start of 2015, the district has settled two lawsuits with employees out of court, appointed to interim managers and implemented rate increases. The board is still dealing with fallout from the termination of four employees in September who later filed suit against the district. A former general manager who left the district in late 2014 also has a

pending complaint against the district.

The recall petition comes amid tension among board members. Board President Dave Baker was behind many of the petition signatures gathered.

Melton questioned the information and messaging presented to ratepayers by recall proponents, saying some may not have realized what the petition was for.

“I want to talk to a few of them and see what was said,” Melton said last week.