(Update: Adding video, city manager, mayor's comments)
Two recent resignations threatened to halt council work in its tracks
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- There will be some different nameplates at the next La Pine City Council meeting.
We have two council vacancies currently," City Manager Geoff Wullschlarger told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday."
While the pair of recent departures was unexpected, Wullschlarger said it's not unusual.
"You have to keep in mind that in small communities, and in most communities, council membership is a volunteer position," he said.
Councilor D. Scott Henderson decided the commitment was too much for him, and colleague Alisha Powell's family has decided to move away from the city.
That left the council with just three members.
The issue is the La Pine's city council only has four positions, plus the mayor. The city government uses what’s known as a "weak mayorship," meaning Mayor Daniel Richer only casts tie-breaking votes. Since there are only two councilors, they couldn’t make a quorum at meetings.
"I can't allow the city to be shut down while we're seeking a new councilor,” Richer said.
And the timing is crucial for Oregon's newest city, incorporated 15 years ago.
"Right now is a very strategic time in La Pine's existence,” Richer said. ”We're actually a very busy city at this moment."
To avoid a council shutdown, Richer and the remaining councilors appointed outgoing Councilman Don Greiner to serve in the interim.
"We'll look for two councilors and then, when we find another one, he can go back into retirement," Richer said.
For now, the city is seeking council applicants, and Richer said there's no set timeline for the seats to be filled.