Two commissioners say Kehoe's address is outside the district

In the wake of a physical clash between Clackamas River Water Commissioner Grafton Sterling and General Manager Lee Moore, a Clackamas County sheriff’s report revealed that one commissioner who witnessed the tussle no longer lives in the district.

In addition to giving her new address to sheriff’s deputies investigating the incident, Board President Kami Kehoe is registered to vote on Harris Lane in Oregon City, which is not part of CRW service district.

According to Clackamas County tax assessor’s records, her condo is part of the Tri-City Service District.

Two other water district commissioners are using the information and meeting records to invalidate Kehoe’s votes in the July 12, Aug. 9 and Sept. 13 meetings. They claim that Kehoe, 36, was not a CRW elector at the time she participated in CRW meetings.

“She needs to go,” said Sterling. “This person has deceitfully been continuing to present herself as an elector of the district.”

The July 12 meeting was particularly crucial to the operations of the district because it occurred the week before Treasurer Mike Cardwell resigned as a commissioner.

Cardwell, via speakerphone, joined a 3-2 board majority in re-electing the board officers and approving contracts through June 2013.

“At this point, the CRW board needs to convene a special meeting to make plans to fill that vacant position, particularly since we now have two vacant positions,” said Commissioner Pat Holloway.

Kehoe has not commented on the allegations. She is still a member of the water district board.

In the meantime, two other commissioners are awaiting answers, saying there’s no cause for immediate alarm. Board Secretary Barbara Kemper said it’s up to the Oregon secretary of state’s office to determine whether Kehoe is still a commissioner.

Kemper said there appears to be a gray area in law, and she suggested that Kehoe could continue to serve her term through an emergency declaration.

“For now, she is still a commissioner and president of the board,” Kemper said. “In addition, we need to find out whether Grafton Sterling really is a resident of the CRW district or whether his residence is actually in Mount Angel.”

Although Sterling is registered to vote at his home in Clackamas, Kemper said “it doesn’t take much to register to vote” and suggested that he might have set up his voting privileges through a Post Office box.

“It’s tricky, and we’re flying a little bit by the seat of our pants in working out these issues, but what I do know is that we don’t have the authority to remove her from the board,” Kemper said.

Sterling says he got his commercial driver’s license outside of the district for his church and real-estate activity. The secretary of state elections office advised Holloway that it had no role to play when a seat is vacated under residency provisions and recommended contacting the Special Districts Association of Oregon or the Clackamas County Clerk for guidance.

“Barbara’s Hail Mary raises the humorous mental image of Grafton trying to squeeze into a Post Office box,” Holloway said.

Sterling and Holloway plan to notify the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office that Kehoe has vacated her position as a commissioner. Holloway said there is no gray area in Oregon law covering the causes for vacancies in office. According to the law, “an office shall become vacant before the expiration of the term,” if an incumbent “ceases to be an inhabitant of the district” or no longer has any other qualification required for election to the office in question.

“I would expect that with the above information, should Ms. Kehoe attempt to continue to falsely claim to be a CRW commissioner, the Clackamas County sheriff would assist in her removal,” Holloway said.

Holloway said that Kehoe would be welcome to attend public meetings, however, as any other member of the public.

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