Former Molalla councilor gathers more than enough petition signatures, now they must be verified

PIONEER PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Maintenance for Molalla's roads may have to be put on hold as the referendum is in process to repeal the city's ordinance that allows the city to establish a street maintenance fee.

Former city councilor, Jason Griswold, who is leading a petition for a referendum to repeal Molalla's newly instated ordinance which allows the city to charge a fee for street maintenance, needed 558 petition signatures by Feb. 9 to refer the decision to voters. He reportedly delivered 770 signatures to the city, then the city reviewed them and came up with a total of 743. Now those signatures must be verified by the county.

Griswold is leading the petition because he believes that city fees have gotten out of hand.

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, just two days before the due date, Griswold went live on Facebook on location in downtown Molalla as a last push to gather signatures.

During his live video, Griswold announced the success of his petition campaign.

"City of Molalla, we have enough signatures to get it on the ballot," Griswold said. "But of course we need to make sure that you verify them, but we have reached our goal of over 600 signatures from Molalla citizens."

Griswold also shared with viewers that he has walked more than 40 miles over the last couple of weeks going door to door and visited hundreds of homes—including the home of City Manager Dan Huff.

"When I was going around door-knocking, going door to door, you know, you don't know where a lot of folks live…one kind of funny and interesting door that I came to was our City Manager Dan Huff," Griswold said. "I was able to visit with him during one of the door-knocking sessions in Molalla…That was kind of interesting. I asked him if he wanted to sign the petition or if he'd support it…and he pretty much told me no. So, that was to be expected. He had no ill will with this whole referendum and petition process, so I was appreciative of that, that he was saying that what I was doing was fair and democratic process and everything. So that was very nice of him to say that."

The ordinance was passed by the Molalla City Council on Jan. 10. Huff said that the decision follows discussion over the course of two years including three town hall meetings during which the council sought input from the community. But Griswold claims that many weren't aware of the town halls.

"The existence of street maintenance data has driven the discussion," Huff said. "Details on how the funding will be used are on our website and available to anyone. There are economic consequences for not repairing or maintaining infrastructure. There really isn't 'other' funding available for streets."

Now that the signatures have been collected, they must be verified. The city of Molalla totaled 743 signatures and delivered them to the Clackamas County Elections Office on the morning of Friday, Feb. 9. The elections office has 15 days to verify. Clackamas County Elections Manager Andrew Jones expects the verification process to be complete within a few days. If enough signatures are verified, then the city will have the opportunity to reverse the ordinance or send it to a vote on the May ballot, according to Jones.

Kristen Wohlers
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