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Newcomer Steve Topaz sworn in while re-elected officials Doug Morten and Rick Scholl renew oaths of office

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL-PACHECO - From left to right: Doug Morten, Rick Scholl and Steve Topaz after being sworn in on Wednesday, Jan. 2, during a City Council meeting. Morten and Topaz serve on the council and Scholl serves as mayor. The St. Helens City Council welcomed a new face to its ranks this week, while two familiar faces also returned after securing re-election in November.

On Tuesday, Jan. 2, the St. Helens City Council hosted a swearing in ceremony for two council members, Doug Morten and newcomer,

Steve Topaz. Mayor Rick Scholl, who was elected to his second term, was also sworn in.

Topaz ousted former Councilor Susan Conn in the November election. He took an early slim lead over Conn and ultimately secured 49.9 percent of the vote, which was sufficient to earn him a seat on the council for the first time.

Morten will now serve his third four-year term.

During the meeting, St. Helens resident Patrick Birkle asked the council about changing its 1 p.m. work sessions, where many of the decision-making discussions seem to take place, he explained. Birkle asked for the meetings to be moved to a later time so that more public members could attend.

Morten said he understood where Birkle was coming from and asked city staff to explore the idea and return its findings to the council for later consideration.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL-PACHECO - Steve Topaz, right, recites the oath of office as he is sworn in to the St. Helens City Council by Muncipal Court Judge Amy Lindgren on Wednesday, Jan. 2. Topaz will now serve a four-term in Position 3 on the City Council.During the November campaign season, Topaz told the Spotlight that the work session timing was something he was concerned about as well. Topaz agreed with the idea Morten proposed and explained that the entire community should have the opportunity to be involved in the governmental decision-making process.

"We need to have everyone to be able to get here," Topaz explained.

Topaz, who has been a regular at council meetings, work sessions and public forums, and who often reads from a series of prepared notes during the time for public comment, was relatively reserved during Wednesday's work session.

Following the meeting, Topaz said he felt his first experience with the council went well, and joked that there "wasn't much to be upset about."

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