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Investigation won't delay Rainier recall vote; campaigning heats up

Investigation won't delay Rainier recall vote; campaigning heats up

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As campaigning for and against the Rainier recall heats up, the Oregon Secretary of State's Office said its criminal investigation of the petitioner who started the effort to remove City Council members Dave Langford and Russ Moon won't conclude until after the election is over.

Don Puckett has until Tuesday to return information to the agency concerning the complaint filed against him in mid November, according to Andrea Cantu-Schomus, the Secretary of State's Office communications director. The results should be finalized in two weeks and won't delay the election, she added. Ballots must be turned in by Dec. 13, and the unofficial results are expected to be released that night.

The complaint alleged a violation of a state statute that says, "A person may not knowingly make a false statement, oath or affidavit when a statement, oath or affidavit is required under the election laws." Details about who filed the complaint or the exact allegations have yet to be released because the investigation is ongoing.

Puckett said late last week he isn't concerned about the complaint or accusations from Langford and Moon that the his petition is based on "fabrications."

He filed a petition to recall Langford and Moon in late October, accusing both men of operating independently of the council and bullying city staff and fellow council members. In only a week, he was able to garner more than the 110 signatures required to mandate a recall election.

With unspecified help, Puckett mailed out a flyer last week to 570 Rainier households citing his reasoning for the recall.

"The unprofessional conduct of Moon and Langford is detrimental to the City and a distraction to the entire City Council and contributes to poor decision-making," reads one of the 17 bullet points.

Moon said last week he's unsure what the outcome of the recall would be, adding it would depend "on how many people believe (Puckett's) stories."

"I've been in town for 30 years," Moon said. "I have a lot of friends in town, and there's a number of things I've done for the city. I'm not going to go out and fight negative with negative."

However, a group of Langford and Moon supporters mailed out a note card with a response to Puckett's handout.

"Time and time again, Americans have said NO to corruption and cronyism. Nobody understands this responsibility like councilmen Russ Moon and David Langford, a Navy veteran of 20 years," states the card. "For these reasons, Councilmen Moon and Langford have repeatedly stood up to insider powers of City Hall and said NO!"

The card states the two council members "said NO" to the removal of the Rainier's latest city administrator Lars Gare and unauthorized pay increases by Mayor Jerry Cole in 2010.

Cole denied the allegations and referenced a Facebook post saying the pay increases were discussed in open meetings and that even though both men voted to keep Gare, it was best for the city to part ways with its chief administrator.

"I admit as a person I liked Gare and had mixed feelings on how good of a job he was doing," Cole wrote. "Unfortunately I found several unfinished projects that Gare left and pushed to the side. ... In my opinion a vote not to remove the city manager was a bad decision. Gare needed to go."

Even though he supports the recall, Cole said he hopes the city could come together regardless of the outcome of what has become an "unfortunate distraction" for the city.

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