Our View: Resignation should start shift to normalcy
To some, the announcement this week that Mayor Krisanna Clark-Endicott would resign was a surprise. To others, it seemed all but inevitable.
In recent months, Clark-Endicott had been at the center of controversy in Sherwood. She led the charge to solicit new bids for the operation of Sherwood's recreational center, which has been run by the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette for years. Several weeks ago, she married in a surprise ceremony — a happy occasion for the mayor and her family, but one that engendered some criticism from political opponents because her new husband, George Endicott, lives in (and is the mayor of) Redmond.
Clark-Endicott, and two Sherwood councilors, were the subject of a recall vote set to go to voters on Oct. 17. That all changed Monday when Clark-Endicott resigned as mayor, thus avoiding the recall vote that Councilors Sally Robinson and Jennifer Harris still face.
In a statement, Clark-Endicott said she and her children were leaving Sherwood to join her new husband in Redmond. The couple married over the summer, during the Oregon Mayors Conference.
The recall petition filed with the city alleges in part that Clark-Endicott, along with Robinson and Harris, failed in her fiscal responsibility. Specifically, the trio was among a majority of councilors who selected HealthFitness, a recreation provider from out-of-state, to pursue a contract with despite initial projections the company would lose money over its first five years, while the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette, the current operator of the city-owned facility, said it would make money.
The council's initial decision on the matter raised the ire of many longtime YMCA members, who took to social media and attended Sherwood City Council meetings to display their dissatisfaction and anger (sometimes rudely). At the heart of the matter was the trio ranking HealthFitness higher than the YMCA when deciding the best organization to pursue to provide future fitness programs and services.
YMCAs, it must be said, are generally revered in their respective communities. A lot of that is because of tradition. For many people, the YMCA was a central part of everyday life growing up. For more, it continues to be a place they spend time. So, it's not much of a stretch to figure out the frustration of many residents who view getting rid of such an organization as akin to ousting baseball, hot dogs and apple pie from a city.
Often it seems that nothing is ever simple when it comes to local politics in Sherwood. This particular comedy of errors has certainly been evidence of that.
In an about-face after the city voted to negotiate with HealthFitness, the Minneapolis-based company revised its projections, estimating that it would still lose money — just not as much as initially predicted — before "final projections" were offered to the city claiming it would actually make money...to the tune of almost $600,000.
Another twist came last week when the council voted on whether to sign a contract with HealthFitness, and Clark-Endicott joined the majority of councilors who voted against it. Many in the public jeered the new projections and questioned HealthFitness' honesty. In the end, the weight of things was enough to bring down Sherwood's negotiations with HealthFitness, and it now appears the YMCA could end up staying on as the city's recreational operator after all.
This wasn't the first ill-conceived saga in which Clark-Endicott took center stage. The mayor also unsuccessfully pushed for the Washington County Sheriff's Office to take over patrol duties from the Sherwood Police Department at night, a proposal dropped earlier this year amid opposition from the police union and others. "It wasn't embraced wholeheartedly," she admitted at a meeting.
Mayoral resignations aren't terribly common — maybe a couple every year throughout the state, according to one source — but they do leave a void in a community until another person can be found.
To her credit, Clark-Endicott left fingerprints on Sherwood that have been positive, including a dog park and community garden for which she was a vocal advocate. She was also the lone female mayor among a slate of male mayors throughout Washington County, and she belonged to numerous committees and boards that boosted the city's status.
We wish Clark-Endicott and her family all the best in their move to Redmond. We also must admit we are looking forward to coming out on the other side of this recall election. Sherwood is not unlike smaller towns who are suffering growing pains of wanting to retain its reputation as a family-oriented hamlet while still being a player in the region. It deserves to have a government that isn't mired in dysfunction.
Whatever the outcome of the recall votes that Harris and Robinson will contest, and whoever succeeds Clark-Endicott as mayor, we hope the City Council can chart a less divisive, more productive path forward.