A leadership shake-up continues to rattle through Vernonia

With one city councilor already recalled, petitions are circulating the city to recall two others.

Former City Councilor Kevin Hudson was recalled by a landslide on June 10 by a vote of 504 to 83, with a majority of the city voting. Now, councilors Willow Burch and Marilyn Nicks have found themselves facing the same fate.

The most recent recall effort comes after a string of resignations and terminations within the city, including the firing of former interim City Administrator Bill Haack, the resignation of interim Chief of Police Michael Connor and the firing of police Sgt. Michael Kay.

At the heart of the recall are questions about the councilors' firing of Haack and the handling of an investigation into police Sgt. Michael Kay, who was accused of falsifying his K-9 certification and lying to his superiors.

Vernonia's council eventually voted to fire Kay by a vote of 4 to 0 on June 27. The city is still moving through the interview process for a full-time city administrator. And the city posted an opening for the councilor position on June 20. City Council will appoint someone to that position.

Clark McGaugh publishes the twice-a-month Vernonia Independent newspaper and has been a vocal critic of many city councilors and employees. He said the city is going through a power vacuum.

But despite his criticism of Hudson, Burch and Nicks, he said he worries about two councilors determining the complexion of the majority of the council.

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