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Disagreement over policy choices is no reason to initiate a recall election. Citizens need to thoroughly think through any request to sign a petition if for no other reason than it might cost the city close to $10,000 if a special election is required. (Petitions are circulating to recall the mayor and three city councilors, hereafter referred to as council. The other councilor is spared as he is relatively new.)

There are few legal standards for initiating a recall. Fortunately, commonsense and civility usually limit the use of recall to clear cases of malfeasance, incompetence or criminal activity while in office.

Recall elections are not the place where voters should decide whose policies are best. Such differences require dissenters to step up to the plate and run for office to further their policy views, values and visions. That is why we have elections in the first place.

No council can satisfy everyone’s preferences. But the council tries hard to represent the needs of the city as a whole and has made decisions accordingly. It has led and succeeded in numerous areas of concern and interest to us. It oversaw a successful bond election to build a proper police station; kept the city’s finances secure and spent prudently (e.g., revising the design of the police station when the initial bids came in too high); received awards for excellence in municipal finance; sought and received a nearly $250,000 grant to plan our side of the West Linn-Oregon City Arch Bridge area to coincide with Oregon City’s plans to transform the former paper mill property into a destination of statewide significance; adopted a stellar trails master plan; and made headway on improving our streets.

Recall advocates cite the council’s violation of the public meetings law during a meeting which involved potentially hiring an in-house attorney to care for legal matters not needing the contracted city attorney’s attention. They do not accept our city attorney’s acknowledgment that his advice was misunderstood and that he could have provided clearer advice. The Oregon Government Ethics Commission accepted that explanation and accordingly only asked for more education on the council’s part.

Recall advocates believe the council ignored public advice and advisory committee opinions; failed to properly oversee the city manager; and in general violated their oaths of office. Even if these complaints were true, they aren’t reasons to recall.

I, and I know many others, do not share the recall advocates’ opinions on these matters. We elect councilors to set city policy, some of which we may not agree with. So be it! The job of a councilor is to make decisions he or she believes best serve the community. I think they each try hard to do just that. They are all smart, do their homework on our behalf and are persons of high integrity.

If you are approached to sign a recall petition, think through what it is all about. Our councilors perform a great public service for us — they deserve our praise, not our condemnation. And they certainly have not committed malfeasance in office or criminal acts and none of them are incompetent.

Please do not sign a recall petition.

Jim Mattis is a West Linn resident.

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