Talent official moves to end ethics dispute

TALENT — A city Budget Committee member won't pursue an ethics complaint he filed against a fellow member over an alleged conflict of interest.

Jason Stricker has written to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission asking to withdraw the complaint he filed against Sara Woodman, daughter of the city's finance director. The commission had asked him to supply more information before it opened an investigation.

"My feeling is that the city is currently taking a direction to where I don't feel this would be an issue anymore," Stricker said.

"Things are becoming more transparent. If this same situation came up under the current administration, I don't think they would put her in place."

Reached by phone, Woodman declined to comment on Stricker's latest action.

State rules, however, don't allow the withdrawal of a complaint, and the case must remain open for several years, said Ron Bersin, executive director of the commission. Retention schedules dictate how long the public record must be kept.

"You can't kind of undo it," Bersin said. "If he doesn't provide that (information) it will sit in our files ... until the statutes of limitations are up. Once it's a record, we've got to keep it open."

Woodman's presence on the committee still is not in the best interests of Talent because her mother, Denise Woodman, is the city's finance director and has substantial involvement in preparation of proposed budgets, Stricker wrote to the commission.

Stricker said he made the withdrawal request because Talent's government has new leadership and is displaying a new approach to management. The previous administration should have questioned the appointment of Woodman, said Sticker, who added that the complaint was not personally directed at her.

Talent now has a new mayor, Bill Cecil, elected in November along with three new City Council members. It also has an interim city administrator, Dale Shaddox, who replaced Jay Henry, whose contract was not renewed July 1.

Stricker, who filed his complaint in May, was appointed to a one-year term on the Budget Committee to fill a vacancy earlier this year. He said he plans to reapply to serve on the committee next year.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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