Mayor's nightmare: Recall fever
Metolius Mayor John Chavez's recent arrest for failing to report to serve the final eight days of a 10-day sentence was the last straw for some Metolius residents, who have initiated a recall petition against the mayor.
On Saturday, chief petitioner Tryna Muilenburg, a former city councilor for the city, was cleared to begin circulating petitions to recall Chavez, 54, who is in his second two-year term serving as mayor of Metolius.
In the prospective petition, Muilenburg stated that the reasons for demanding a recall are: "The mayor's ongoing criminal behavior is unacceptable. He has been charged and convicted with two misdmeanors in the last 15 months, was conditionally released for both offenses, and then failed to comply with the conditions. He is curently still facing consequences at an upcoming court date and continues to be on probation."
The issues began on May 13, 2018, when police were called to Chavez's residence in Metolius on the report of a fight between two brothers. Chavez was arrested and charged with fourth-degree assault constituting domestic violence, a Class A misdemeanor, and harassment, a Class B misdemeanor, and lodged in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility.
He was sentenced April 25, to 10 days in jail — which had to be completed by July 1 — and the harassment charge was dismissed. As part of his probation, he was required to not initiate contact with his brother, not consume or possess alcohol, and to complete an anger management evaluation and recommended treatment program.
Before he was sentenced for the assault, Chavez was arrested Feb. 24, for driving under the influence of intoxicants, recklessly endangering another person, and reckless driving.
That case was also resolved on April 25, when he pleaded guilty to the DUI charge, and entered the DUI diversion program, with numerous conditions.
By failing to complete the 10-day sentence for the assault, Chavez violated that sentence and the diversion agreement, and on July 9, a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was arrested July 12, and jailed without bail to complete his sentence.
Because he violated his probation on both charges, he will be back in court Aug. 29, for both a diversion revocation hearing and a probation violation status hearing.
"I really think John should resign," said Muilenburg. "It's not OK for him to behave as he's been behaving; he hasn't been complying with court orders."
Metolius resident Nick Korcek, who has served on Metolius committees, is assisting Muilenburg with the recall effort. The recall group has 90 days to collect 44 signatures.
"As soon as we gather signatures — once they've been verified — John has five days to decide (whether or not he will resign), and then, an election has to happen within 35 days if he decides not to," said Korcek.
Muilenburg, who ran against Chavez in the last election in November 2018, lost the three-way race for mayor by one vote, with 90 votes to Chavez's 91, and Foncie "Carl" Elliott's 76 votes. If Chavez were to step down, she said, Elliott, who is the council president, would take over as mayor.
Korcek said that Chavez has offered to take a six-month leave from the unpaid position. "They'll be voting on that Aug. 5."
Muilenburg and Korcek had gathered about 20 signatures on Monday. "If anybody would like to sign, I'd love to have them contact me," said Muilenburg, who said she can be reached at 541-325-2269. "We're going to start putting signs up around Metolius."
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)