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Move gives Thistle incumbent status ahead of election

Larry Preston.Gordon Thistle, running unopposed for a seat on the City Council of Columbia City, is getting an early start on conducting the business of the city.

Larry Preston announced his decision to step down from the council, less than five months after his appointment, ahead of the body’s regular meeting Thursday, Sept. 4. Thistle was sworn in Thursday to replace him after the council voted in favor of his appointment.

“I kind of signed up for it, so it’s just coming a little early — but that’s OK,” said Thistle on Tuesday, ahead of the meeting. “I’ve got the time, and so we’ll see what we can do.”

Preston was appointed in April to fill out the unexpired term of Shannon Fitzgibbons, who resigned from the council months before the end of her term because she was moving outside of the city limits.

In his resignation letter dated Friday, Aug. 29, Preston referred to last week’s Spotlight news report that Thistle is running for a seat on the council.

“In order to permit Mr. Thistle to begin his new career as soon as possible, I hereby respectfully submit my resignation from the position of City Councilor for Columbia City, effective immediately,” Preston wrote. “I presume that you may now appoint Mr. Thistle to complete Ms. Fitzgibbons’ term.”

As a member of the council, Preston distinguished himself as an outspoken critic of certain development plans — including a proposed “Village Center” overlay zone that would have allowed businesses to set up shop in central Columbia City. He also opposed a Port of St. Helens draft application that could have seen construction projects at the industrial park in upper Columbia City expedited.

Preston told the council he intends to apply for his old seat on the Columbia City Planning Commission, as well as resume his volunteer duties on committees dealing with city parks and the water and sewer system. His reappointment to the Parks Committee was approved Thursday evening.

“It has been an immense pleasure to serve with you and my fellow councilors, even though it has been relatively brief!” Preston wrote in his resignation letter, which was addressed to Young, the mayor. “I fully intend to continue to serve the City as a volunteer and as a member of some of the City’s committees.”

Gordon Thistle.Thistle said he is coming onto the council as a way to “give back” to Columbia City, where he has lived for the past four years.

“It’ll be a new experience,” Thistle said. “It gives back to the community. It’s a nice place to live, and a lot of people around here give a lot of their time and effort to making it nice, keeping it nice. So it’s kind of neat to join in with that.”

He added, “You don’t have that when you live in a big city. ... You just don’t see much of it, at least municipal-wise.”

Another council member appointed this spring, Nell Harrison, is running for a full term this fall. She and Thistle are the only candidates on the ballot for the two council seats up in this year’s election, while Young is unopposed in her quest for another term as mayor.

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