News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Gates mayor Gander resigns amid recall petition

Gates mayor Brian Gander has resigned, and the Gates City Council will be charged with naming his successor.

Gander, who moved from councilor to mayor in January after the Sept. 29, 2022, death of Mayor Ron Carmickle, resigned effective Thursday, Oct. 12, after being targeted by a recall petition.

The Gates City Council was scheduled to discuss the issue at its Oct. 19 meeting after The Canyon Weekly’s presstime. Gander was scheduled to speak during the public comment period. 

Council President Patrick Rahm, who was set to preside at the meeting, said the council will accept the resignation and declare the mayor’s position vacant.

Next steps, Rahm said in an email exchange with The Canyon Weekly, would be to advertise for candidates and, ultimately, a council appointment of a new mayor.

Rahm also said that he wishes Gander would reconsider his decision to resign, with the council president adding that he would not seek the position himself.

Gander was the subject of a recall petition by Gates resident Mark Barnes filed Aug. 22. The petition accuses Gander of harassing a city employee, ill treatment of those speaking at council sessions and intimidation of and discriminating against “a specific local business.”

Gander expressed concern that he received word of the petition from city recorder Traci Archer on Oct. 5, 43 days after it was submitted, and also responded to the charges in a 15-page document that he provided to The Canyon Weekly in which he referred to the claims in the petition as “outlandish.”

Archer was the employee referenced in the petition drive. 

In his response to the charges Gander strongly criticized Archer’s work performance, including accusations that she showed favoritism toward a councilor, Tonya Chamberlain, on a water bill issue.

When contacted for a response by email by The Canyon Weekly, Archer wrote back, “Yes, I would like to respond, but not at this time.”

Gander’s response letter also challenges the petition claims on the local business, the Camp Benadoo RV Park on Highway 22. Petitioner Barnes is a resident of Camp Benadoo. Key issues in the dispute are whether the RV park has exceeded its permitted 17 units and whether its septic systems are in compliance. 

Gander wrote that Camp Benadoo has 30 units, 13 above the maximum and that the city first received word that Camp Benadoo was over the limit from Marion County building officials. 

Gander also said that three of the four septic fields are in failure or were illegally installed over an earlier drain field.In the documents forwarded, Gander included a report from Eco Septic Services on the Camp Benadoo septic system.

Gander’s ascension to the mayoral position came after former mayor Ron Carmickle, running unopposed for a second two-year term, passed away after the ballots already had been printed.

Gander was the top write-in vote-getter, easily besting Carmickle and more than a dozen other candidates who received votes. Gander also was on the ballot to retain his council seat and was elected there as well.

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