Metolius recall moving forward; mayor staying
Embattled Metolius Mayor John Chavez apologized to the Metolius community, and asked the community to allow him to continue to serve as mayor in a statement signed Sept. 3.
In the "Statement of Justification," required for a public official who wants to remain in office after initiation of a recall, Chavez wrote that he wanted to publicly state "that I apologize to my community for the embarrassment I brought to you. I made some personal mistakes and made choices that were unfit and wrong."
Chavez was arrested July 12 and jailed for failing to complete the last eight days of a 10-day jail sentence for fourth-degree assault.
The original incident occurred 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.
Nearly a year later, on April 25, he was sentenced to 10 days in jail — which had to be completed by July 1 — and the harassment charge was dismissed.
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 April 25, when he pleaded guilty to the DUII charge, and entered the DUII diversion program, with numerous conditions.
However, by only completing two days of the 10-day sentence for assault, Chavez violated that sentence, as well as the diversion agreement. On July 9, a warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was taken into custody July 12, and jailed without bail to complete his sentence.
In the resolution calling for his resignation, the council mentioned the charges and sentence, in addition to his failure to report to jail to complete 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.
The resolution also pointed out that Chavez did not inform the City Council of the matter
"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, as part of his diversion agreement for the DUII, 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.
The Metolius City Council expressed strong disapproval of Chavez's actions "in failing to fulfill his oath of office to support and follow the laws" of the state of Oregon, and once again asked him to resign.
In his letter of justification, he stated, "I am determined to make things right with the courts and adhere to all the court orders ... I don't want my personal affairs to impede my judgment while serving our great city."
"Please accept my apologies, overlook my imperfections, and grant me the time to prove that we can all work together and build a great community," he wrote. "We have been so successful in the past, now we should stay the course."
Former councilor Tryna Muilenburg initiated the recall petition in late July, and ultimately collected more than enough signatures to trigger the recall election.
"Of the 52 signatures that we submitted, 45 were valid," she said. "We needed 43."
After the signatures were validated, Chavez had five days to write a letter of resignation or letter of justification; he chose the latter. The election must now occur within 35 days of his letter.
"The recall will now be put on the ballot," Muilenburg noted. "He finally apologized for his behavior, but in my opinion, it's too little too late."
Jefferson County Clerk Kate Zemke said that 570 ballots will be mailed out for the recall election on Oct. 8. "The projected date to mail ballots out will be Sept. 18," she added.
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