Taking her seat

Susanna Noordhoff signs her oath of office after being sworn in as a new member of the North Bend City Council.

The North Bend City Council took a dramatic step Tuesday in an effort to control one of its own members.

In a 6-0 vote, the council removed Council Susanna Noordhoff from all city board, commissions and lay committee. Noordhoff was not present at the meeting.

Councilor Larry Garboden brought up the topic, saying the council must act to protect itself and North Bend.

“We’ve all witnessed the lack of decorum and continued violation of council rules, seeing the city spend money to provide training, legal fees and staff time for the benefit of one councilor,” Garboden said. “Also given the potential grievances this one council member has done inside and outside the council chambers, I think it’s best we sever as many ties to this one council member as possible.”

Garboden then made a motion to remove Noordhoff for her liaison role to city committees, board and commissions.

Each members of the council then spoke about their coming vote.

“I think we’ve spent an awful lot of time since us new people got elected on the council and some of it was time we really didn’t need to spend,” Councilor Pat Goll said. “Something’s got to change or I’m gonna change, one of the two.”

Councilman Eric Gleason, who was elected with Noodhoff and Goll last year, had similar feelings.

“It’s not a step I wanted or anticipated we’d have to take when this whole thing came when we first got elected,” Gleason said. “There’s growing pains, but the learning curve, it’s not that steep. We’ve had the training on more than one occasion. There have been warning, recommendations, and at a certain point, you have to be held accountable for the things you continuously do. I don’t feel we have a choice at the moment.”

Councilman Bill Richardson echoed the sentiments.

“I feel the same way,” he said. “We’ve had several trainings. This is the first and hopefully the last step we have to take with this person.”

Councilman Timm Slater said Noordhoff’s passion toward city parks is good but said the council must be able to focus on other issues, as well.

“The parks of North Bend are important, and we all appreciate them,” he said. “Looking beyond them, I’m interested in road repairs and economic development of our area and all the opportunities out there. We need to focus our time and efforts on that. It’s been obvious we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time going through parks.”

Tensions between Noordhoff and the council as a whole have been simmering for a while, but the tensions boiled over during a council work session Monday.

During a discussion item about placing benches in the maple groves at Ferry Road Park, Noordhoff took a decidedly different view than the council as a whole. Noordhoff told the council the project could move forward immediately, while the remaining six members asked her to wait for an archeological study, a parks master plan update and formal approval from the Affiliated Tribes.

City Administrator David Milliron said the city not only should wait but must wait for tribe approval. He said a prior approval had been removed from the tribe, and the city is required to work with the tribe when making any changes to the park.

During the discussion, Mayor Jessica Engelke repeatedly ignored Noordhoff’s calls to be heard, one time using the gavel to shut her down.

When Noordhoff was given the chance to speak, she slammed her papers on her desk, sending them scattering on the floor.

Engelke said that kind of behavior is something that left council little choice but to take the move it did Tuesday.

“It’s very frustrating that we’ve got to this position,” the mayor said. “I know the other councilor and myself, we’ve taken steps to try to get to the point of not removing another councilor from committees. But this is what we need to do, what’s best for the city. Because of the participation of this particular councilor on committees, that’s not happening. In one of the trainings we’ve had now twice, you have to do things differently.”

Slater ended the discussion by saying he hopes things turn around.

“I think it’s a very necessary step, but I want this councilor to know we’re interested in her success,” Slater said. “We’re here to help you, but we’re not going to stay here.”

After the discussion, the council voted 6-0 to remove Noordhoff from her committee liaison appointments.


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