On Monday evening's Winlock City Council meeting, the council made their decision on who would be the next city council member. Trig Pedersen, husband of councilwoman Barbara Pedersen, was appointed, but it was short lived.
Friday, Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney Jonathan Meyer had made his decision as well, he claimed it was an illegal appointment. This is the second time in a month Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer has informed Winlock that there was an illegal city council appointment. First was Ms. Curtis who the commissioners re-appointed. Pedersen is the second and hopefully last until election time.
Pedersen is not registered to vote in Winlock. He is registered to vote in Cowlitz County even though he has lived here for over 10 years. It is not clear why Pedersen isn't registered to vote in the city he cares so much about that he wanted to serve as a member of the city council.
During the City Council Meeting councilors Sneed and Curtis voted to appoint Pedersen, his wife Barbara abstained and Randt opposed. Applicants were asked questions about social media twice, another question was based on positivity in the the past year and one was based on their involvement in making the community better. Applicants Dowell and Allman had both been involved in improving the Community. McMillian stated he had tried to volunteer, but this administration would not find room for him in any volunteering capacity. Pedersen stated he had fixed up his home.
Pedersen, being registered in Cowlitz County, brings about many questions as to how he even made it to the interview process. The Mayor has asked previous candidates if they were registered to vote in the City of Winlock.
Landon Johnson, who the Mayor had hoped to be on council at the beginning of 2018 stated, "I met with the mayor as an interviewee for the vacant council position(s) that opened up when Orbino and Hurtado resigned. He asked about my voting eligibility and residence. I stated that I was not sure if I'd carried my voter registration to Lewis County or not; he asked me to check on it and said he would too. A couple days later, I received a telephone call from the Mayor asking me to come over to his house for a meeting, which I did, and it was then that he informed me that I was indeed not registered to vote and needed to do so post haste." The Mayor had made sure Johnson was a legal resident of the City of Winlock, but not Pedersen? Johnson joined the Planning Commission instead, but resigned after he realized there were zero plans for downtown. Everything was planned for the Benaroya Project.
Johnson went on to state, "There are only two possibilities here. One is that the Mayor simply forgot about all this voter registration stuff after a year or so ... the other is that the Mayor knew full well what he was doing and tried to smoke it by. Neither is characteristic of a person fit for office, and unfortunately due to all the conflict in town (conflict that Mayor Bradshaw promised to eliminate as part of his 'campaign') the well has been poisoned regarding this entire administration with the possible exception of Anne. The slate needs to be wiped clean and all traces of the poison removed before the well is again viable."
There has been zero transparency with this administration. They talk about meetings they have had, but refuse to share the information to any news outlet yet. If they do talk to other media sources, it's repetitive about the waterlines where former Mayor Dowell secured the funding.
The question to ask is 'Why did the city administration intentionally NOT verify a citizen's registration for council position when they did for others?'
Winlock City Council will have to reappoint another person. Will they extend advertising to get the candidate they want again or will they finally decide on one of the three applicants that have been waiting and waiting and waiting? Time will tell. Either way they must appoint someone by May 5 or the Lewis County Board of County Commissioners will.
At print time, the Winlock City Mayor Don Bradshaw has refused to comment again.