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Former Mayor Thia Estes says 'entrenched special interests' in the small city have led her to resign

INDEPENDENT FILE PHOTO - Thia Estes resigned from her position as Hubbard's mayor on Sept. 28.The mayor of Hubbard announced her resignation Thursday night. Thia Estes, who was elected last November, posted a statement announcing her resignation to her Mayor Thia Estes Facebook page.

The statement no longer appears on the page, but it cited a disillusionment with "entrenched special interests" as a reason for her resignation.SCREENSHOT COURTESY OF JUSTIN DRYDEN - Thia Estes posted her resignation to Facebook on the night of Sept. 28.

Estes ran unopposed for the mayor position in the 2016 election. She was sworn in last January.

In an Independent article published soon after Estes was sworn in, the new mayor said she wanted to increase engagement in the town.

"It's a delicate balance," Estes said at the time. "I don't want to step on any toes but I see battles. I've heard a lot of, 'this has always been done this way' and I think that shuts the door to new ideas and growth. Hubbard has missed a lot of opportunities because we just do the same as usual."

It wasn't long before Estes ran into some backlash from the community.

In April 2017, the city began to consider contracting with the Marion County Sheriff's Office for additional police services after Estes was presented with information from city staff indicating such a contract could reduce costs.

Many residents came out against the city's considering such a contract, creating a "Save our Hubbard Police" campaign in response.

In July, resident Justin Dryden began a recall petition against the mayor, also filing a similar recall petition against city councilor Bradley Williams, citing the policing issue as one of the main reasons for the recall.

Dryden's petition against Estes accused the mayor of "crippling our effective police department through willful failure to hire a chief, pursuing Marion County Sheriff contracts against the will of the majority, spending over twice the annual legal budget on the city attorney in six months, and her failure to promote harmonious and working relationships with city council, staff and residents."

In July, Estes said the recall effort didn't come as a surprise.

"It's really just one more tactic in a long line of attempts to keep me from discussing the issues with our police department and how best to provide law enforcement services to our city," she wrote in an emailed statement. "To date, those failed attempts have included multiple ethics complaints, tort claims, anonymous slanderous letters delivered throughout the community, threats and smears to my family, and ongoing attacks on social media.

"So facing a recall effort isn't exactly shocking, especially when headed by the former chief's son," she continued.

Had Estes not resigned, the recall against her would have likely gone to a ballot this coming Election Day. Dryden said he and other volunteers had garnered more than the 111 signatures needed before the Oct. 10 deadline for the issue to go to a vote.

Marion County Clerk Bill Burgess said in an interview before Estes' resignation that assuming the petition was turned in on time, the required signatures were verified and the mayor didn't resign, the recall election would go up for a vote in the Nov. 7 election.

On Sept. 27, KOIN 6, a news partner of the Woodburn Independent, aired a story about a Hubbard family whose property experienced major flooding, reportedly the result of a neighboring development.

For more coverage, see Flashpoint flooding: Hubbard development leads to severe flooding, political divisiveness

Jeff and Amy Stewart, the property owners, believe city staff failed to flag problems with the development's stormwater drainage plan when it issued a building permit for the development earlier this year.

Estes alluded to that news story in her Facebook post.

"The straw that broke the camel's back was observing first hand how our own community members were treated, and that treating our neighbors poorly was viewed as an acceptable and defendable practice," Estes wrote. "Among one loud circle, lying was encouraged if it meant a satisfactory end result of derailing any accomplishments that did not cater to their views, even if it meant they harmed our community. I cannot be part of this."

Estes has not yet responded to a request for comment. City staff also have not yet responded to a request for comment, though Hubbard's city hall is closed on Fridays.

For more coverage on Hubbard resignations see:

Two Hubbard city councilors resign on heels of mayor's resignation.

Estes' complete statement

When I accepted this job nine months ago, I was hoping to be an agent of positive change in this town, working toward goals that reflected our small town and its needs. Unfortunately, power seeks to preserve itself, and causes damage in its wake. We have entrenched special interests who desperately want to maintain the status quo, whether it is certain businesses who want to maintain their contracts with the city, retaining their monopoly on local business and not allowing others a chance at success or stifling growth, or simply being mouthpieces of negativity. There are those that have fought desperately to feel relevant or important, seeking power for their own, blatantly lying to garner support.

I didn't enter this position to support this. I genuinely thought we could accomplish good things for our community together. I didn't take this job to rubber stamp what had been done before, or to wave in a parade. I took it to contribute, to serve. I have come to realize that it didn't matter what anyone who disagreed with those interests did, or the positive goals we worked toward, it was not wanted. Because WE wanted it.

It is sad and petty.

The straw that broke the camel's back was observing first hand how our own community members were treated, and that treating our neighbors poorly was viewed as an acceptable and defendable practice. Among one loud circle, lying was encouraged if it meant a satisfactory end result of derailing any accomplishments that did not cater to their views, even if it meant they harmed our community. I cannot be part of this.

Effective immediately I resign my position as Mayor of Hubbard.


Julia Comnes can be reached at 503-765-1195 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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