Casey Roats faces the Bend City Council and wins a seat on the council on 5-2 vote.
Casey Roats, confirmed by city council 5-2 to serve on the council despite the challenge of his legal right to serve.
By a five to two vote the Bend City Council ruled that voter approved city council candidate Casey Roats was qualified to run and will be qualified to be sworn in after the first of the year to assume a seat on the city council. Challengers had claimed that by virtue of selling his old home inside the city in 2013 and not moving in to his new home also inside the city until 2014, and having spent the total “in between” time living at his parents house which was outside the city, he did not meet the residency requirements laid down in the city charter. Challengers pointed out that the city charter states that a city councilor candidate shall have resided inside the city limits at least one year prior to the election. Therefore Coats doesn’t qualify for being sworn in as a city councilor. Mayor Jim Clinton and City Councilor Doug Knight agreed with that conclusion. The rest did not.
The other councilors said that “residency” and “residing” are very closely tied in their meaning, and that the term “residency” is highly variable – for instance you can claim residency in Bend even if you are away from Bend for a length of time. Councilor Jodi Berram reasoned that people on long vacations, academic sabbaticals and military service can be gone for months but still claim they “intend” to return to Bend and to continue their residency when they get back. But Mayor Jim Clinton raised the issue of what is residency if you sell your home and move in to your parents home which is outside the city limits? Mayor Clinton reasoned that Roats stayed in his parents home outside of Bend with no permanent Bend address to be away from. But Berram echoed the sentiments of the majority of the council by saying that when he sold his home in 2013 with intent to build his new home by 2014, his permanent address became his new, not yet built house. Mayor Clinton chimed in saying “only if he pitched a tent on the property. Otherwise he resided at his parents home outside the city limits.”
Throughout the discussions it became clear that the five councilor majority thought that Roats was qualified to be a city councilor and were willing to stretch the definition of residency to politically overpower a more strict definition of the word “reside” found in the city charter. The charter states a council candidate “shall reside within the Bend City limits for a year prior to the day of election.” Only Mayor Clinton and Councilor Doug Knight stuck with that strict definition of “reside.” Mayor Clinton remarked that it may be time for the new city council convening in January to modify the city charter to reflect a more flexible definition of who is qualified to be a city councilor with respect to residency requirements.
City Attorney Mary Winters told the council she will draw up a legal finding that Casey Coats is qualified to be a city councilor, quoting strategic remarks from city councilors that led them to that majority conclusion. She said she’ll work feverishly to get that report back to the council for their review and concurrence at this week’s city council meeting. County Clerks among all Oregon counties will be issuing election certifications on December 5th based on the official vote tally from the November election.