A defeated Gearhart City Council candidate has decided not to pursue complaints with three county and state agencies regarding Mayor Dianne Widdop.
“They have so many restrictions on what they can do and what they can’t do that, quite frankly, I’d just as soon the City Council handle it and leave me the hell alone,” said Gearhart resident Kevin Willett. “There’s no point in dragging this out.”
Meanwhile, the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office is investigating a complaint Widdop filed against Gearhart resident Harold Gable for what she considers to be “inaccurate, misleading and untruthful statements” he has made in his recall petition against her.
In the November general election, Willett, who sought to fill the council seat formerly held by Joy Sigler, lost to John Duncan by 286 to 129 votes. He said at the time he planned to make formal complaints and ask the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, the Clatsop County Elections Office and the Oregon Government Ethics Commission to investigate actions taken by Widdop, who suggested a local business operator should remove Willett’s political sign from outside her business.
He stated in a letter that he felt his First Amendment rights were violated and that he had been “personally harmed” by that incident, as well as by Widdop allegedly saying he has a temper.
He also criticized her for sharing what he claimed to be a sensitive, private email from a group of short-term vacation rental owners with other City Council members and Duncan, who was a Gearhart Planning Commission member at the time. Sigler was the only City Councilor who did not receive the email.
No matter if Widdop is in the council chambers or outside in her yard, Willett said, “she’s still perceived as mayor, and she needs to act accordingly.”
He requested Widdop resign as mayor in his letter, and he said that is still “most certainly” his stance.
As for more formal investigations, he said he doesn’t want the city to have to pay legal fees.
“I’m not going to make the city spend more money. That’s just not me,” he said.
He also believes it would be better for the citizens or City Council to handle the situation, adding, “Why should we have another agency step in?”
His goal after the election was to get locals more involved in the city’s political process, and he feels like that’s been accomplished.
“People just need to really take a look at what’s going on in this town and decide for themselves,” he said.
However, the Secretary of State’s Office remains involved in the Gearhart dispute.
Widdop claims in a complaint she filed with the Secretary of State that the 200-word statement Gable filed Nov. 26 as part of the prospective recall petition form was untruthful.
The form states “any factual information provided must be true” and that supplying false information may result in conviction of a felony. Gable is the recall effort’s chief petitioner.
Widdop filed her complaint last week, including a narrative of the situation and documentation she believes will support her claim that the statement is littered with factual inaccuracies and based primarily on opinion.
Tony Green, communications director for the Secretary of State, confirmed Monday the office received the complaint and would investigate. Because the statute has potential criminal sanctions, Green could not provide more details.,