LAKESIDE — After winning re-election by 17 votes, mayor-elect Ed Gowan has refused to accept the job.
The surprise announcement came at a swearing-in ceremony Thursday night. Gowan was absent, but sent a letter to the council outlining his frustration.
“As Mayor, I have NO CONFIDENCE in this Council to work together toward any goals set for the positive progression of the City of Lakeside,” he wrote.
Gowan added that the city was conducting business in an “obstructionist and illegal manner,” and that he felt threatened in a recent letter written by his mayoral rival, Dean Warner.
Warner, an outgoing councilor, narrowly lost the election to Gowan, 292 votes to 309.
Warner left Gowan a handwritten note this month that accused him of exceeding his authority by trying to appoint a former city administrator to a part-time position.
“You are out of control so you should move on or suffer the consequences,” Warner wrote.
In a Friday interview, Gowan said the letter shocked him.
“I was kind of aghast,” he said. “Why would he say, ‘or suffer the consequences’? What kind of grown man — in the position he was in — talks like that?”
But Warner said Gowan is deliberately misreading his letter. He says he was not making a physical threat.
“The consequences are whatever you may want to think them to be,” he said. “But to my thinking, it was a recall vote or a ‘no confidence’ vote of the council.”
That said, Warner is glad Gowan is departing. Warner said he had several terse exchanges with the mayor after being appointed to a vacant council seat last year.
“I think he was trying to have control,” he said. “That’s what caused the conflict between him and I. He wanted to control the way I voted.”
The council will advertise for applicants for a new mayor and appoint Gowan’s replacement. The position is open to sitting councilors as well as members of the public.
Warner said he will apply. He hopes his strong support in the election will make him a front-runner.
Gowan, a retired nurse, has enjoyed an eventful career in local politics. He won election in 2000 but was recalled by voters in 2004, shortly after being re-elected to his second term.
“S - - -, I don’t even remember what it was for,” he said. “There were so many opinions and all of them wrong.”
Gowan was elected anew in 2010. He again drew attention for his gruff style and penchant for slamming a gavel during meetings. In an infamous incident in 2011, Gowan brought a gun to a council meeting.
So what’s next for Gowan? Will he ever take another stab at local politics?
Gowan is unequivocal: It’s time for a vacation.
“I’m 66 years old and it’s time for me to have fun,” he said. “I’m afraid running for office again is completely out of my future picture.”
He laughed. “And my wife won’t let me.”
Reporter Daniel Simmons-Ritchie can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 249, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.