Sewer spills over onto ballot: Recall targets Coburg mayor, councilors

Sewer spills over onto ballot: Recall targets Coburg mayor, councilors

COBURG, Ore. - A new $26 million wastewater and sewage plant has been operational since last August.

The facility is at the heart of a new controversy bubbling over in Coburg: an effort to recall the mayor and two members of the City Council.

"We're just not getting honest answers," said Steve Stearns, the chief recall petitioner. "We need to get our city back, and we need city leadership that's run by honest people."

Stearns and other leaders of the Committee for Affordable Sewers contend the blend of funds to pay for the sewer plant doesn't smell quite right.

"They've co-mingled the urban renewal district money into the general fund," said Bill Ledford, the recall group's treasurer. "They've used the money inappropriately for city operations."

Ledford and Stearns suspect $1 million may have been wrongly spent on projects outside of the urban renewal district.

The recall petition alleges the mayor may have allowed the urban renewal agency to use funds outside the scope of the urban renewal district.

Impossible, the mayor responds: the charter for the urban renewal district was set up to help pay for the wastewater plant.

"My initial response and summary response is I think they are baseless. I think they are without merit," Mayor Jae Pudewell said of the recall petition's accusations. "I think the people that understand what's going on in Coburg understand that as well."

The recall targets Pudewell, pluscouncilors Jerry Behney and Brian Pech.

Lane County Election clerks last week verified that enough legal signatures had been collected to force the election.  

In the small town north of Eugene, petitioners needed 74 signatures to put each official on the recall ballot. They got 85 signatures to recall the mayor, 82 to recall each City Councilor.

By law, the councilors and the mayor had five days from the time the recall was certified to either resign or face a recall election.

None of the three elected officials plan to step down.

The recall election will be February 25.