After a Monday, Aug. 3 city council meeting in which West Linn Mayor Russ Axelrod stated he would be stepping down as mayor, he has now clarified that he meant he will not seek reelection.
He said Wednesday morning, after The Tidings and other news outlets reported his statements, that it was common for politicians to use the phrase "stepping down" when they are not running to defend their seat. He did not respond to an initial request for comment on Tuesday.
In a statement on social media posted Wednesday morning, Axelrod wrote, "What I meant by 'stepping down' is that I was not re-running for Mayor which I had not yet decided prior to this. I mentioned this out of frustration with the majority members of Council's conduct including their treatment of our longtime community partners during this meeting. I will be sorting out my plans in the near future."
After tensions flared between councilors and community members at Monday's meeting, Axelrod said "I'm going to step down because that's not the city I want to be a part of."
After he said this, Councilor Teri Cummings asked Axelrod if he meant he was resigning, to which he just responded, "I am going to be stepping down."
Cummings then asked, "Tonight?"
"No, I'm not sure when," Axelrod responded.
Monday's meeting lasted six and a half hours (coming on the heels of two and a half hours of executive session and pre-meeting work session) and reached a boiling point near the five and a half hour mark as the council discussed appointments for a "Historic City Hall Coalition Task Force."
The council heard from Siobhan Taylor and Jon George, who have spent the past two and a half years working with city officials on a plan to restore the old city hall/police station building near Willamette Falls.
At Monday's meeting Taylor, of the Willamette Falls and Landings Heritage Area Coalition, and George, the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde Tribal Council secretary, expressed frustration for what they described as the city going back on its commitment to help fund the restoration project.
In response, Council President Rich Sakelik expressed his own frustration at the comments of Taylor and George and attempted to "correct the record" on the saga of the historic city hall funding agreement.
Axelrod and Councilor Jules Walters expressed frustration with Sakelik's message to George and Taylor.
"I'm very upset by the reaction that's taken place here," Axelrod said.
After further conversation on the matter, he made his statement about stepping down.
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