State: No evidence Talent officials violated elections law

TALENT — The Oregon Secretary of State's office has closed an elections complaint against two city officials due to "insufficient evidence" of a violation, but the City Council will ask for clarity about the decision.

City Manager Jay Henry and Assistant City Recorder Suzanne Heinrich were accused by councilwoman-elect Diane Glendenning of violating Oregon statues that prohibit public employees from political campaigning on the job.

Henry and Heinrich's participation in a mayoral forum held by the League of Women Voters raised concerns for Glendenning because the pair developed questions for candidates at the league's request. Mayoral candidate Darby Stricker filed a complaint with the same allegations.

A letter to Henry from Carla Corbin, compliance specialist with the Secretary of State's Election Division, said there was insufficient evidence of a violation. The letter also said the agency has concerns about public employees drafting questions for such events. The letter stated there was no finding of election law violation.

The council agreed last week to sending Corbin a letter seeking clarity.

"We were given a not guilty, but not guilty doesn't mean innocent," said Mayor Don Steyskal. "We want a straight up and down response."

Heinrich said she was pleased with the agency decision. Henry declined to comment on the findings.

Glendenning, who will assume council Seat 5 In January, said she was glad she raised the issue.

"Because of the way I read the ordinance it appeared to me like it could be a violation," said Glendenning. "I just left it in the hands of the office."

— Tony Boom, for the Mail Tribune

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