Recall effort underway for Brookings mayor & two city councilors

This article has been updated to reflect city manager Janell Howard pleading ‘no contest’ to a third degree theft violation.

BROOKINGS, Ore. – Three residents of Brookings are launching a recall committee in an effort to remove the city’s mayor and two city councilors from office.

The mayor’s recall is being led by former city councilor Dennis Triglia.

“When I saw people at both ends of the political spectrum sitting right next to each other, getting up and speaking up in opposition of rehiring her, well I thought this is my opportunity to get city wide involvement,” he said.

Brookings mayor Ron Hedenskog and city councilors Ed Schreiber and Michelle Morosky are the targets of the recall effort.

It stems from drama around city manager Janell Howard.

In January, the council decided to retain Howard as city manager, after she pled ‘no contest’ to third degree theft violation.

Many city residents have spoken out against the decision.

Bryan Holmes, a former Brookings police officer, even resigned his position with the city.

“They were not transparent about the entire process and they ignored the community so they essentially work for the people of Brookings and if they’re going to ignore the people they work for then we need to put people in there that will do the job,” he said.

Documents from the Curry County DA‘s office, filed by the Brookings Fred Meyer store’s ‘loss prevention department,’ shows an additional 15 other incidents accusing Howard of theft, though she was only charged in one incident.

Hedenskog, Schreiber and Morosky all voted to keep Howard, leading to a grass-roots campaign to recall them.

The city said 463 valid signatures are needed by October 9.

“Within the first two weeks we have 325 signatures for each of the candidates so we’re about 70% of the way there and we’re waving signs in the streets trying to go into the neighborhoods where people actually live,” Triglia said.

We reached out to mayor Hedenskog for comment, he said the recall effort is quote ‘uncalled for’, as two council seats and his seat are up for reelection in a year.

Councilman Schreiber gave us a statement, he said:

Mr. Cunningham’s official statement contains multiple mistruths.  To my knowledge, only ONE officer has resigned and claimed he left because of the city manager.  I, along with the mayor and Councilor Morosky voted against a ‘no-cause’ dismissal, which saved taxpayers a $242,000 immediate payout to Mrs. Howard.   Additionally, the current city manager contract is not ‘permanent’…it is up for renewal (or not) by the city council next year.

In my tenure at the city, I have consistently voted to support increased funding for Brookings Police and public safety.  I have voted twice to stop downtown motels from becoming low-barrier homeless shelters.  This year, I was unanimously elevated by the city council to the role of Council President.  My consistent commitment is to assure that families and local businesses can thrive in Brookings.  If I am retained, I will continue to be guided by my long-held Christian values of fairness, honesty, public service, civility, cooperation and grace.

Henry Cunningham is the chief petitioner of Schreiber’s recall petition, he claims Schreiber persuaded other councilors to vote for Howard’s permanent reinstatement.

Holmes hopes in the end a recall can lead to major change.

“Obviously I want them to revisit the Janell Howard issue,” Holmes said. “But I just want to see people there that care about Brookings the way the rest of the community has cared about Brookings.”

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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