By TAMMY READY
I attended the Dec. 13 Volunteer Coordinating Committee (VCC) meeting. My husband, 8 year old son, and I went in support of candidate Jacob Martin (Who sought a seat on the Keizer Parks Advisory Board). The meeting started like any other council-type meeting I have previously attended. The largest difference was the amount of support the people of Keizer showed. There were approximately 50 people (20 of those were children) showing their support for various candidates. Many supporters spoke. Noted was the absence of the mayor, but the committee explained she was volunteering by ringing the Salvation Army bell and would be arriving around 7 p.m.
Each speaker was given three minutes to express their support of any candidate they chose. Then the candidates themselves were given the opportunity to speak and say basically why they should be voted for. It was all going great. When the committee started voting for the number eight spot, it ended in a tie. So they voted again, and it was a tie again. Before they continued, the acting chair asked the woman taking minutes what the rule was on a tie. The woman went to an office and brought back a book.
The acting chair then informed the room all ties were to be broken by putting the two tied names into a bucket. Whichever name was drawn would be victorious. You can only imagine the dismay of people who came to support their candidate. We took the process seriously. We took time out of our daily lives to back and support someone we feel would be a liaison between the citizens of Keizer and the Parks Advisory Board. We came to the meeting as citizens of Keizer. Then the next vote came for the number nine spot and it too was a tie. The bucket was brought back out.
Keizer Mayor Lore Christopher then came into the building, but refused to come into the room. She was overheard asking, “What the heck are all of these people doing here?” One of the citizens of Keizer told her the reason we were all here and invited her into the room to join. She showed her obvious disgust and refused to join. I also heard what the mayor said at the Keizer City Council meeting and I am a bit upset it seems this meeting and process in her eyes is about her or her son (who was also a candidate for a seat on the Parks Advisory Board). It is not. It is about the Parks Advisory Board, the Volunteer Committee, the Keizer City Council and the many proud citizens of Keizer. I was proud the citizens of Keizer showed up and showed their support and I think the Keizer City Council and the Mayor should have been proud also.
At no time did I hear anyone in the crowd being unruly, rude, intimidating or hostile. I was part of this crowd. I learned it was said at the Keizer City Council meeting by one of the VCC committee members they were accused of rigging the votes. I heard that the mere presence of the crowd was intimidating, so much so that one of the Volunteer Coordinating Committee members chose to quit. What I will say is this: there were a couple of speakers that spoke some harsh but seemingly truthful accounts of what they perceived. It appeared they were not happy with the process as a whole. Not the voting, as that had not happened yet. The couple of speakers were concerned about the nomination process, deadlines, and the like.
I have been a proud Keizer citizen for approximately 16 years. December 13 did not end with me feeling that same pride.
A hat?. Really? But, I am even less proud of how the accounts of that meeting have been discussed and expressed. It is my opinion if you choose to be a volunteer member or paid member on any type of council, whether it be a volunteer board, city council, or mayor, you cannot be so naive to think it will all be rainbows and unicorns. These positions are tough. You are making decisions that affect all of the citizens you volunteer or have been voted to represent. If you feel intimidated by the mere presence of 50 citizens, then maybe volunteering on a committee isn’t for you.
I understand now the city attorney has told the volunteer committee that the committee did not follow the correct procedure for ties in voting. There is another meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 3 at City Hall to listen to old and new testimony and to redo the vote. My family will be there again. We are citizens of Keizer. We choose to be involved. My husband has volunteered his time coaching baseball, basketball and soccer for 15 years in Keizer. We shouldn’t and won’t let one meeting surrounded with false and unfounded accusations detour us from being active members in the city we call home. I urge other citizens of Keizer to attend. This meeting is for the future of Keizer, the citizens, our children, and our parks.
(Tammy Ready lives in Keizer.)