The Vader City Council has tabled a resolution seeking to add a potential name change to the November ballot as officials consider public opinion before passing the issue to voters.
Discussed during the council's May 28 meeting, a ballot measure renaming Vader to Little Falls, as it had been named when incorporated in 1906, was first broached last October when officials considered the potential cost of including the issue on the ballot and the effects of a name change, if approved.
While estimates varied and were in the multiple thousands of dollars, Mayor Ken Smith reported May 28 a member of the community has offered to pay all the city's costs associated with the election, as well as the potential name change, meaning no public funds would need to be obligated toward such efforts.
"I, for one, feel very strongly about this," said Smith, who noted the city was forced to change its name by Northern Pacific Railroad in 1913, as the company already had a Little Falls, in Minnesota, on their rail schedule, and changing Vader back to Little Falls would be "righting a wrong."
Also speaking in support of a name change was Council Member Kevin Flynn, who said Vader has garnered a reputation locally for drug use and other maladies and a different name could mean a new start for the town.
"I want this city to have a different connotation to the public," he said, adding council approval of the resolution would not itself change the name, but would give voters an opportunity to choose. "We're not making the decision. The people are going to vote on it."
Other council members were largely indifferent to a name change, stating they had spoken with members of the public who both supported and opposed the idea, and felt the name Vader has been part of the community for so long many residents may not be bothered by its former identity as Little Falls.
"Toledo, Winlock, Vader--It's just one of the three towns that I grew up with," said Council Member Joe Schey.
"I don't know if changing the name will change the character of the town," added Council Member Mark Fenison, who said he understands local voters are split pretty evenly on the issue.
Opposed to the resolution, and a name change, was Council Member Andy Wilson, who said, even with someone offering to pay the city's expenses, private citizens would have their own expenses in the event of a name change.
"I am firmly against this," said Wilson, stating he felt the proposal was "absolutely ridiculous."
Flynn again stated the resolution does not itself change the name but simply approves allowing voters to decide the issue, saying, "If the people want it, they can change it. If the people don't want it, they don't change it."
With some council members stating they need more time to consider the issue, as well as the absence of Council Member Justin Olson, the resolution was tabled to be considered at a future meeting, with Smith stating the council has until August to make their decision.