King City City Council carries on with three members, elects new mayor

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The three members of the King City City Council participated via video-conference at an emergency meeting March 8 while on the wall above them in the Council Chambers were photos of the former mayor and City Council members. Barbara Sherman/Tigard Life
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Shawna Thompson is King City’s new mayor, and while she plans to only stay in office through this year, her influence on the city will be felt for years to come. Due to the successful recall election of the former mayor and three city councilors, Thompson and her two fellow councilors – Marc Manelis and Jan Tysoe – will be choosing who fills the empty seats and makes decisions about the city’s future.

King City formally announced the council vacancies on March 15, and the application period will remain open until all seats are filled. Two applicants will be chosen to serve terms ending Dec. 31, 2024, and two will be chosen to serve terms lasting until Dec. 31, 2026.

“Our charter dictates how and when these seats should be filled, so we’ll use the charter as our guide,” Thompson said. “… It could be several months before we have a full council of seven.”

She added, “First off, I would like to thank my fellow, recently recalled councilors for their service to King City. I am saddened by the results of the election, and I wish that the vote would’ve gone their way.

“I was not seeking the position of mayor, but I will do my best to serve my city by taking on this leadership role on the council. I see my role as mayor as more of an interim position since my term expires at the end of 2024, and I do not have plans to run for re-election at this time… We will do our best to navigate these uncharted waters, and we respectfully ask for patience and grace from our community along the way.”

An emergency City Council meeting was held March 8 to elect a new mayor and council president. King City is unique in that voters do not elect mayors; rather, City Council members elect mayors for two-year terms from among themselves. Thompson, Manelis and Tysoe participated in the meeting via video-conference.

“We are in uncharted territory,” City Manager Mike Weston said at the beginning of the meeting. He added that Washington County had certified the election results, but he had not yet heard from the Secretary of State’s office.

Thompson made a motion to accept the election results, which was seconded by Tysoe. The motion passed, with Thompson and Tysoe voting in favor, while Manelis abstained due to the Secretary of State not yet certifying the vote.

Manelis made a motion to nominate Thompson as mayor, which Tysoe seconded; they voted in favor of the motion, while Thompson abstained. “Mayor, I will let you take over,” Weston said. Thompson made a motion to nominate Manelis as council president, which was seconded by Tysoe; they voted in favor while Manelis abstained.

City Attorney Peter Watts cautioned the trio not to violate the quorum rule, because with only three people on the council, two of them being together or communicating with each other would constitute a quorum, which must be legally noticed.

On March 11, Weston told Tigard Life, “ …(The council) could interview as early as April 17, but they may want to push that out to May, with possible appointments at that time as well. The three remaining councilors have expressed that they are not in any rush to fill positions, and their primary concern is to ensure candidates will be a good fit.

“Ultimately, nailing down an exact timeline is a little challenging at this point. My best guess at this point is that notices will go out this week and interviews potentially May 15 with possible appointments at that time.”

Patti Nichols, spokesperson for the recall campaign, issued a statement saying, “We are of course very pleased with the results of this recall election. This has been a community effort with the focus on what’s best for the future of King City and for the people that live here and will live here. Transportation, environmental protection, and representative leadership have been the focal points of this recall.

“The certification of the recall and the removal of the mayor and the three city councilors should make it clear, to both the remaining and newly appointed councilors, that change is wanted, needed, and required…

“Our efforts are proof you can fight City Hall. The (anti-recall campaign that worked to keep the councilors in office) spent an estimated $50,000, maybe more, and were financially backed by corporations (including) the Metropolitan Land Group and the New Home Company. Political endorsements, a political strategist, full-page ads, glossy mailers, phone surveys and robo-calls barraged city residents.

“Our grassroots effort was run and paid for by members of the community with no experience, spending about $7,500. We will continue the fight until the actions taken by our elected and appointed representatives match the vision of the community that have put their trust in them… ” 

Nichols said there is a website, UniteKingCity.com, that is devoted to unifying and engaging city residents “to help shape a city we can all be proud of.”

She added, “The community looks forward to working with new leadership and assisting them in any way possible. We are hopeful the council will actively engage with the community in a meaningful way in order to understand the issues and make the necessary changes required to set King City’s future on a proper course.”

City residents interested in applying for a seat on the City Council will find information and forms at tinyurl.com/3ve96v9v.

Thompson added, “I encourage anyone that has a desire to serve our wonderful city to apply. Applications can be found on the city website as well as at City Hall.”

Former Mayor Jaimie Fender and former City Councilors Laurie Petrie, Smart Ocholi and Kate Mohr were invited to provide comments for this story, and only Petrie responded. She sent the following statement: “First, I want to thank all of you who have supported me during this stressful and challenging time. It means so much to me. It has been a privilege to serve as a King City councilor, and I’m proud of what the council has been able to accomplish. We have all worked very hard on behalf of all the residents. There is more challenging work to do, and I think the will is there to continue moving ahead.

“I am looking forward to continuing to volunteer in our community. The future outlook for King City is exciting!”

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