The Medford City Council is expressing some frustration with Councilor Kim Wallan, who was elected to the state House of Representatives in November but has yet to submit her expected letter of resignation so the council can get on with the business of appointing her successor. Her fellow council members have good reason to be a little irritated with Wallan, who should step aside and devote her energy to preparing for the 2019 legislative session that begins Jan. 22.
Wallan notes that state law would not prevent her from holding both positions at the same time, although she says she fully intends to leave the council. That’s as it should be. If she lived closer to Salem, it might be a little more reasonable to continue as an unpaid city councilor, but with close to a four-hour drive between Medford and the capital, it would be impossible to do both jobs well. Legislative sessions require tremendous time commitments, especially in budget years, which 2019 will be.
Wallan says she’s ready to present a written letter of resignation, but is hesitant to do so without knowing what the effective date should be, and hopes to get some guidance on that in today’s council meeting. It shouldn’t be that difficult. Even if there is a gap between Wallan’s departure and her successor’s selection, it’s unlikely to affect city business in any significant way.
The real sticking point appears to be Wallan’s desire to have the two Ward 4 councilors representing the city’s southeast quadrant -- herself and Michael Zarosinsky -- appoint the committee to help select her replacement. That’s unnecessary and unreasonable. Under the city charter, the full council will fill the vacancy by majority vote. If Wallan is so concerned about her replacement that she doesn’t trust her fellow councilors to select an advisory committee to screen applicants, she should have stayed on the council and not run for the Legislature. Now that she’s a representative-elect, she should concentrate on her new job, get out of the way and let the council proceed without trying to control the process.