By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
The end result was the same.
But plenty else happened at the Jan. 3 Volunteers Coordinating Committee meeting.
Jacob Martin was nominated by the seven-person VCC board to take one of two open spots on the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. A few minutes later, outgoing Keizer City Councilor Brandon Smith was recommended for the other position.
Both nominations were forwarded to the council, matching the nominations made at the last VCC meeting on Dec. 13.
However, several in the audience of two dozen citizens were riled up about last month’s meeting – and in particular how VCC member Marlene Quinn, who on Monday officially joined the council – portrayed them.
During public comment at the Dec. 17 council meeting, Quinn talked disparagingly about the “unruly mob” at the VCC meeting she had chaired in the absence of board president David Fifer. Among other things, Quinn said VCC members felt “intimidated” by the large crowd and one quit because of that meeting.
Debra Zerbe, who spoke in favor of Martin, felt the Dec. 13 meeting went calmly.
“We were reported as being a rude, angry mob,” Zerbe said. “What I saw was a quiet gathering of concerned citizens, much like tonight. We were respectfully listening. As far as being intimidated, any large group can make you feel that way if you’re not used to such crowds.”
Rhonda Rich also thought the meeting went well.
“I thought it was impressive many came out in support of people for a volunteer spot,” said Rich, who spoke in favor of Rick Hammerquist.
Ken LeDuc, who like Quinn joined the council on Monday, noted all VCC members were present last week.
“I heard a member stepped down or quit,” LeDuc said. “I don’t believe that to be true. All the names are here. That needs to be changed.”
Fifer, who personally thanked each person who spoke last week, noted he had listened to the Dec. 13 meeting but said an apology about the error would have to come at a council meeting, since that’s where Quinn had made her statement.
Later, however, Fifer did apologize for some of the other comments.
“As the chair, I take full responsibility,” Fifer said. “I apologize for statements made by this committee calling the crowd hostile, intimidating or accusatory. It was unusual to have such a large crowd. I’m sure it caught the committee off guard. We owe Keizer citizens an apology for making those statements.”
Fifer emphasized there was no conspiracy going on and explained why Hammerquist and Martin were allowed to give testimony after missing the initial application deadline.
“I’d like to eliminate the perception there was something snide going on,” Fifer said.
When it came time to vote for the first position, Martin initially got three votes while Hammerquist and Smith got two each.
After some discussion, it was confirmed a nominee needed at least four votes from the seven board members. Martin got four votes the second time to gain the nomination.
For the second position, Smith won by a 5-2 vote.
“It was an interesting process,” Martin said. “I’m glad people came out to support me. It means youth sports will be represented on the board.”
Like others, Martin was pleased to have the situation cleared up.
“Errors were made, but I’m glad they rectified them,” Martin said. “I was glad Dave apologized. I know that meant a lot to people.”
Despite not getting the nomination, Hammerquist also appreciated the second chance.
“I’m glad they revisited the process,” he said. “Clearly it wasn’t done right the first time. I’m glad they made an apology. We were not an unruly mob and no VCC person quit.”
Still, Hammerquist was surprised to be passed over once again.
“I felt I was the most qualified candidate,” he said. “I’m disappointed I was not nominated to the Parks Board. I’m very surprised. With what I’ve done for the community, I thought I would make it in. It’s unbelievable. But currently it’s the Keizer way. I just hope it changes.”