POWERS — A recall petition was approved this month against Powers Mayor Robert Kohn and Councilman Jim Clauson which claims city officials are not governing with the city’s best interests in mind.
Powers resident Robert Leckband filed the petition in December after he said he as well as other concerned residents noticed several issues with Kohn and Clauson centered on their lack of transparency and communication with the general public.
The council’s decision to fire its former police chief Robert Baker and not take into consideration the community’s wants was the final push Leckband said he needed to file.
“City council isn’t following the wishes of the people here in Powers. They’ve got their own agenda,” he said. “As a last resort they fired the police chief which everybody wanted and thought he was doing a good job.”
According to the petition documents, Leckband accused Kohn of acting as a department head and doing the work of staff. He also added that Kohn fails to follow city charter and often meets with selective councilors to discuss city matters outside official meetings.
Clauson was also accused of not governing with the majority of city’s best interests in mind.
“We hope we can get a council on that thinks more of the city than their own agenda,” said Leckband. “That’s the whole problem here. They will not listen. People go to these meetings and they just ignore them and move right on to a new subject … but the city comes first and what the people want.”
Kohn told The World that he’s seen the petition and denies its allegation as he believes he has acted in the city’s best interests. He said he’s never performed city staff’s work, but that he has assisted the Powers Public Works Department in the past when it was shorthanded.
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He also denied knowingly violating city charter and meeting with councilors.
Powers city hall sits on Fir Street and is also home to the library and fire department.
“I have an open door policy,” said Kohn. “I have a lot of people come by my home and I don’t trespass anyone that comes by. I will basically talk to anyone who wants to ask questions and if I can answer them I will try.”
In response to his lack of communication, Kohn added that he publishes a monthly newsletter to residents interested in following along with city matters as well as hosting a weekly “Coffee with the Mayor” event every Wednesday from 12 to 2 p.m. at Powers City Hall.
“I’m not going to resign,” he said. “I took an oath to do a job and my term ends this year and I plan on serving it out and continuing to help the city of Powers.”
According to Leckband, more than 70 people have signed the petition which has only been circulated around town for about a week. A total of 52 signatures is needed to move along with the recall process, but Leckband said he plans on collecting as much as could until the end of next week.
Once the petition is submitted, the Coos County Elections Office will have about 10 days to determine if the signatures collected are valid and verified.
According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s website, if the officials named in the petition do not resign then a recall election will be held. Petitioners are given approximately 90 days to collect signatures.