To the editor,
The guest column by Harold Gable on the editorial page of the Dec. 22 Daily Astorian stands out as unique (“Petitioner rebuts Mayor Widdop’s claims”) (ed. note: Gable’s piece also appeared as a letter to the editor in the Dec. 26 Seaside Signal). Never before, as far as I can recall, has any Gearhart citizen been elevated to the rank of guest columnist — which is all the more reason to respond, since it seems to cry out for a response.
The column, which urgently seeks signatures for Gable’s recall petition, asks us to picture a “mayor who has only her agenda.” He does not specify what agenda he means, but we ordinary citizens know what her agenda has been over the past 20 years. We remember Widdop standing up against the commercial interests that tried to “sewer up” the city; we remember her brave stand against closing the Hager Avenue access to Little Beach; we remember her fierce opposition to building condos on the golf course; and we remember that she resigned her own position to protest the attempted harassment of local elected officials by the state of Oregon.
We remember those, and so many other cases in which Widdop has had the courage to stand alone and raise her voice on behalf of our Comprehensive Plan and the quality of life in Gearhart. Without her presence on the council over the years, Gearhart may well have become just another faceless, overdeveloped, overcommercialized suburb of Seaside.
Throughout its history as a city, Gearhart mayors have walked among the people and discussed issues, and no previous mayor has ever been known to withhold his or her own opinion. But Widdop has broken all precedent in openness — with her weekly “coffee and cookies” sessions, she has given all citizens a platform for their agendas.
As for her own opinion, being mayor does not abrogate her constitutional right to express it, nor does the free expression of her opinion violate anyone else’s constitutional right. If she has offended, she has duly apologized.
I’ve never known her to prevaricate. Her explanation of what happened in the Linda Goldfarb/Kevin Willett case seems simple and straightforward enough to ring true to reality. In my opinion, that explanation should have been accepted, and that should have been the end of it.
It now remains for her handful of opponents to either back off or justify in detail why they are pursuing her recall. It will not do to make covert allusion to “Widdop’s own personal bias against a single Gearhart resident.” We ordinary citizens are not privy to this piece of gossip, and do not understand why, if there’s really an issue here, it’s not being discussed in full detail. And please, let us know why any of us should “fear retaliation.”
The campaign to bring down a mayor who has, for so many years, served the city so well cannot be based on whispered innuendo.