Judge says 'mirror' candidate may appear on Oregon City mayoral ballot
A newly filed lawsuit aimed to keep Leslie Wright off Oregon City's special election ballot because he filed for the city's "mirror" position rather than mayor.
On July 1, County Circuit Judge Michael C. Wetzel ruled that Wright's filing was "sufficient" for showing intent to run in the mayoral election. Wetzel said that Wright's "mirror" wording could be termed an "ambiguous clause or phrase." But "the intention of that document becomes abundantly clear" when accounting for the mayoral campaign website and email address on the bottom-half of the filing document, the judge said.
Lauren Vannini, an Oregon City resident who served as fundraising director for the 2020 campaign to recall Mayor Dan Holladay, said citizens should expect a leader who, at a minimum, cares enough to double-check their work on important government documents. Vannini wished this lawsuit to throw out Wright's candidacy weren't necessary but said that citizens deserve a mayor who takes responsibilities seriously.
"Part of the reason the voters recalled Dan Holladay was his unprofessionalism. The mayor is Oregon City's representative to the region and to the entire state, so Oregon City needs a leader who will elevate our city," Vannini said. "If Leslie Wright says he wants to be 'mirror' on his application to be mayor, how can we trust he will show our community in its best light, if elected?"
Wright insists that he mistakenly wrote "mirror" on the filing form and clearly intended to run for mayor. In addition to his public statements about running for mayor, his filing paperwork included an email address and website that referenced his mayoral candidacy.
"They're trying to make me look stupid, and that upsets me, but I'm going to win this election because the people are going to see right through this bull," Wright said.
Citizens who want Wright off the ballot say that his intentions don't matter as much as a state law mandating that "declarations of candidacy" specifically name the elected office sought by a candidate. Last week was the deadline for Wright to submit corrected paperwork, so a county judge is expected to hear the case.
Vannini's co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, Nancy Slavin, who served as the field director for the Recall Holladay campaign, doubted that Wright is ready to lead Oregon City if he can't complete the most basic tasks of running for office.
"Unfortunately, Leslie Wright has shown in this latest example, carelessness and inattention to detail, and neither bodes well for an elected leader, especially in times like these, where we need leaders who can be responsive to citizens' real and disparate concerns," Slavin said.
Wright's mayoral campaign launched with a statement that he later said he regretted about plans to place homeless people in shuttered schools like "the Japanese." He missed a deadline for appearing in the Voters' Pamphlet during the August election, but he plans to run again for mayor in November.
Two mayoral elections are being held in a three-month period because the mayor who was elected to replace Holladay, Rachel Lyles Smith, resigned prior to the end of her term, and the city charter calls for voters to fill the seat as soon as an election can be held.
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