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Rainier councilmen to fight recall

Rainier councilmen to fight recall

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Rainier City Councilmen Russ Moon and Dave Langford both will fight recall petitions and have filed statements opposing the effort to boost them from office.

"I campaigned on 'honesty matters,' and that has never changed," Langford wrote in his statement, submtted to the county Tuesday.

In their separate, one-page statements, both Moon and Langford blasted recall sponsor Don Puckett, who says he is acting on behalf of unspecified other citizens who want the two councilmen ousted.

"Puckett," Moon writes, "openly (admits) that he has never witnessed any of the behavior or actions in the recall. The accusations are false, malicious and unfounded."

The next step in the process is for Columbia County elections officials to set a date for the recall election, which must be held within 35 days (Dec. 20).

County officials last week certified that Puckett had enough valid signatures to put the recall before voters, and Moon and Langford had until Tuesday to resign or submit a rebuttal to the petition explaining why they should remain in office.

Moon's statement, which refers to him in the third person and reads as if it were written by another person, was his first public comment on the recall, though Langford indicated last week he would fight to remain in office.

Puckett has accused Langford and Moon of making unspecified "back-door agreements" and publicly insulting city employees and council members. Puckett also has accused Moon of running off former city adminsitrator Chad Olsen, costing the city a pricey severance package.

"The majority of the council indicated they wished to terminate Olsen's contract. ... Mr. Moon was part of a team effort, and did not act as a rouge individual. Puckett, working for some unknown persons, propagated unfounded accusations and rhetoric," Moon's statement says.

Langford notes that Puckett "has stated that I made backroom deals with various agencies, yet has not been able to provide any evidence due to the fact that there are none. He also stated taht I do not follow policy and procedures, yet again (Puckett) cannot provide any such example."

Puckett could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Councilmen Phil Butcher said in a phone interview Tuesday that "I don't think (Moon and Langford) have done anything to be recalled" and said he knows of no "back door deals," as Puckett asserts. "This whole recall is based on hearsay," Butcher said.

Relations among the council have been tense in recent months, and recently Moon blew up at Mayor Jerry Cole at a council meeting, though he apologized at the Nov. 7 council meeting. Butcher noted Moon was out of line but that his apology was "sincere."

He and other councilmembers have lamented the distraction the recall has become for a city that is still trying to figure out how to operate without a city admininstrator. The council fired adminstrator Lars Gare in July.

"We need to move forward and we don't need to go backwards, and this recall is taking us backwards," Butcher said.

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