Council requests resignation of mayor
After the Metolius City Council passed a resolution Monday night, to admonish Mayor John Chavez, and request his resignation, the meeting proceeded with Chavez remaining at the helm.
Four councilors voted in favor of the resolution, Council President Carl Elliott, and councilors Patty Wyler, Candy Canga and Dan Dulaney, with Councilor Denise Keeton opposing the resolution. The mayor only votes as a tiebreaker. The resolution was read aloud, despite Chavez's opposition.
In the resolution, the council notes that the mayor was charged with fourth-degree assault in May 2018, following a fight with a family member, and pleaded guilty to that charge in April 2019, when he was sentenced to 10 days in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility, to be completed by July 1, and placed on probation for 18 months.
Because he failed to report to serve the final eight days of his sentence, "Mayor Chavez was arrested on July 12, 2019, was arraigned on the probation violation on July 15, 2019, and it is the Council's understanding that during the arraignment told the court he could not complete the jail time because of his mayoral duties ..."
"The Metolius Council is aware of the required duties of the mayor and do not believe that he had any required duties that would have precluded him from completing the required jail time," the resolution noted.
"At no time did Mayor Chavez advise the City Council of the status of this matter, his guilty plea, or the requirements of the Court's judgment," it continued.
Additionally, the resolution reported that Chavez pleaded guilty in April to driving under the influence of intoxicants, with charges of recklessly endangering another person and reckless driving dismissed, and was granted diversion.
As part of the diversion agreement, he was required to contact an evaluator within 30 days and use an ignition interlock device in any vehicle he operated. The evaluator notified the court that he had not completed the evaluation.
In June, Chavez received a citation in Crook County for failing to install the device and driving 57 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone.
"On July 4th, 2019, Mayor Chavez participated in the City of Metolius' 4th of July parade and drove a city vehicle on the public highway in violation of the Diversion Agreement," the resolution stated.
At a council meeting in July, following his release from jail, Chavez was asked to resign, but refused, and instead requested a six-month leave of absence from his role as mayor.
"Wheras the actions of Mayor Chavez have brought embarrassment to the City of Metolius, its citizens, and the City Council," the resolution notes, the City Council resolves to express strong disappointment with and disapproval of Chavez's actions "in failing to fulfill his oath of office to support and follow the laws" of the state of Oregon.
The council pointed out that the mayor's actions do not reflect "the expected behavior or values" of the city or the City Council, and renewed its request that Chavez resign.
Without comment, Chavez dove into the council's agenda, with the city accepting a grant for $12,500 from Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council from Oregon Lottery funds and from the Ford Foundation.
According to Scott Aycock, community and economic development manager for COIC, the funds, which will be matched, will be used for beautification of the city's walkway, including replacement of irrigation and new plantings, and a visioning process for the city, to determine what kind of community projects the city wants.
After the vote to accept the agreement, Chavez said that everything is going well for the city, "except this little issue," referring to the earlier resolution.
During the public comment period, several locals expressed support for Chavez.
Business owner Mike Ray decried the "browbeating" Chavez has received, with a front-page article in the last issue of the Madras Pioneer.
"I've been in town four or five years," he said, praising Chavez for his hard work pitching in and keeping the city clean. "He has done a great job. It's a thankless job; it's a nonpaying job."
Larry Semm, the owner of Desert Inn, suggested that if the community were upset by Chavez's actions, "there'd be 100 people here, not 25."
Acknowledging that Chavez "did do something," he said, "Right now, unless something major happens, I support John and would like to see him stay on as mayor."
Shawn Stanfill, a retired combat veteran, presented a sandwich board with the words, "Retain Mayor John Chavez for the remainder of his term. He's made mistakes, So who hasn't."
"He's made mistakes; let's move on," said Stanfill. "Let's move on."
Christe Abbe expressed support for the city's action, saying that "parts of me feel bad, but parts of me are embarrassed."
The meeting adjourned to an unrelated executive session without comment on the issue from Chavez.
Former councilor Tryna Muilenburg, who has initiated a recall effort, said the she is just a few signatures short of the total of 44 needed to put the issue on the ballot.
"I think we have 35 plus commitments from people working on getting their voter registration done and some who were waiting to see if he would resign," said Muilenburg. "So we should have what we need by the end of the week."
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