St. Paul councilor tenders resignation
Joel Halter has resigned from the St. Paul City Council as of Sept. 14.
He was elected to the council in 2014 for a four-year term.
According to Mayor Kim Wallis, Halter said he was leaving the council to spend more time with his family. Wallis added that he has a full plate, working a full-time job and volunteering as a firefighter.
"He has some young children and a young family," Wallis said. "I think being on the City Council was taking up more time than he was able to devote to it."
Wallis said Halter put a lot of time and energy into his time as councilor. "We're going to miss Joel on the council," Wallis said. "He put in a heck of a lot of hours. It takes a lot of personal sacrifice to be in one of these volunteer council positions, and I can totally understand the need to have some more personal time."
Halter was one of three city councilors included in a 2016 Oregon Government Ethics Commission investigation that examined whether Halter, along with councilors Rosemary Koch and Jenni Lefevre, violated Oregon's public meetings laws by illegally meeting in executive session.
The investigation stemmed from a November 2015 council meeting in which the three councilors interviewed a prospective city attorney while convened in executive session. Wallis submitted a complaint to the state ethics commission 12 days after the meeting, alleging that the councilors had "touched on questions of policy" during the executive session.
Governing bodies in Oregon are only allowed to convene in executive session under limited circumstances, including the consideration of employment of a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent.
Ultimately, the ethics commission concluded that there was insufficient evidence that the councilors violated state law.
Wallis said the city is accepting letters of interest from residents interested in filling the vacancy for Halter's spot. The council plans to appoint Halter's replacement at its next regular meeting, set for Oct. 12.
The appointed replacement will fill out the rest of Halter's elected term, which will end in December 2019.
In the meantime, the council will have just four members, sufficient for a quorum.
Wallis said Halter's resignation comes at a busy time for the city. "There are a lot of issues at the table," he said. That includes considering negotiations with the St. Paul Rodeo Association about leasing the rodeo's well, reconsidering the rodeo association's master lease and preparing for possible improvements to traffic safety on St. Paul's major roads, along with regular city business.
In order to be eligible for the council position, an applicant must be a resident of the city who's lived in St. Paul or within the boundaries of the St. Paul School District and/or St. Paul Fire District for a year or longer and must be a registered voter. Letters of interest must be delivered to the city recorder by at the end of the business day Oct. 10.
Letters can be mailed to P.O. Box 7, St. Paul, OR, 97137, or delivered in person to city hall at 20239 Main St. N.E.
Wallis also said Greg Evers tendered his resignation as a planning commissioner Sept. 20, leaving one vacancy. There are also two vacancies on the town's historical resources board.
The requirements to apply for the planning commission vacancy are the same as those for the council vacancy, but historical resources board has less stringent requirements. While members of that board must live in St. Paul or within the boundaries of the school and/or fire districts, there is no one-year residency requirement or the requirement that the applicant be a registered voter.
And the process for applying for any of the board vacancies is almost the same as that for the city Council, although there isn't a firm deadline for letters of interest.
"Our past practice has been to deal with those as they arrive," Wallis said of applications for the other city boards.