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Woodburn looks to fill city council vacancy

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Mayor will appoint replacement for Ward 1 councilor Melinda Veliz, who resigned last week

INDEPENDENT FILE PHOTO - Melinda Veliz was elected to a four-year term as the Ward 1 city councilor last November. Her replacement, who will be appointed by the mayor and approved by the council, will finish out that term.City of Woodburn Mayor Kathy Figley has started the process of finding a replacement for former City Councilor Melinda Veliz, who announced her resignation last week.

Veliz, who represented Ward 1, won the council seat in an uncontested election in November 2016. She was sworn in a month later.

In her resignation letter, read by Figley at the May 8 City Council meeting, Veliz said she was no longer able to devote the necessary time to the council position. "Unfortunately, I've found that I'm no longer able to give the time needed to responsibly fulfill my role on the Woodburn City Council," the letter read.

As outlined by City of Woodburn ordinance, the mayor will name an appointment, whom the council will either approve or disapprove in a vote. Once an appointment is ratified by the council, the appointee will finish out the four-year term for which Veliz was elected.

The last time there was a vacancy on the City Council was in 2013, when Horst Raustein resigned

"We had three applications where three people did live in the ward and we verified they were registered voters, so they met the bare minimum qualifications," Figley said. "I interviewed all three of them in a kind of informal setting. We had a meet and greet with the people in the ward and the general public had a chance to ask questions, and I made a decision."

Figley said the process to fill that vacancy took about two months.

"We wanted to give people time to decide if they really want to do it, talk with family and friends and throw their hat in the ring," Figley said. "I think we just didn't want to be hasty about it."

In the end, Figley named Teresa Alonso Leon as the appointee to fill the vacant seat. Alonso Leon finished out the four-year term before leaving the council to run for the Oregon House of Representatives.

The basic requirements for the position are that the person be a resident of the ward and a registered voter. Figley said she encourages anyone who meets those requirements and who is interested in joining the council to contact her, even if they're not yet completely sure it's right for them.

"I know the first time I ran for city council, I was about 75 percent sure I wanted to do it," Figley said. "So there might be some people who even 51 percent want to do it. I can chat with them some about what demands are involved (and) what realistic expectations we have of you."

In the meantime, Figley said the City Council will be able to function one councilor short — only four councilors are necessary to reach a quorum.

And, Figley thanked Veliz for her time on the council. "Her time was fairly short, but I appreciate anyone who serves the community in the many ways that she does," Figley said. "I understand, and I wish her well."

Julia Comnes covers all things Woodburn. She can be reached at 503-765-1195 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..