City Councilor Sarah Spoon to Resign Midway Through Term

Canby City Councilor Sarah Spoon will resign midway through her second term in office, she announced Wednesday night.

She made the surprise announcement during this week’s regular City Council meeting, saying that she has been “incredibly honored” to have been elected twice to represent the community, but that recent career advancements have made it difficult to juggle her various roles.

“It pains me to say that over the last eight months, my life has changed in significant ways,” she said. “I’ve made career advancements, and crowdfunded and released a full-length album, and now have exciting opportunities to tour and travel to perform our music.

“No matter how many times I try to squeeze more minutes into the day — there is never enough time to wear that many hats. … The community deserves a public servant who can make it a bigger priority than I can at this point.”

In her statement, Spoon also detailed some of her experiences growing up and living in Canby that inspired her to run for council, including the bitter fight over Ballot Measure 9 in the early ’90s, in which her hometown and other small, tight-knit communities like it became battlegrounds in the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights.

“When I was in high school, a special interest group descended on Canby with out-of-town money and an agenda,” Spoon said Wednesday. “It turned this sweet town where citizens helped their neighbor into a town where their differences divided them.

“It bled into the schools, and I saw my gay friends physically assaulted before, after and during school hours, and I heard homophobic slurs fired across the hallway. I saw a farm town that seemed to suddenly only sow hatred.”

Ballot Measure 9, which would have amended the Oregon Constitution to recognize homosexual behavior as “abnormal, wrong, unnatural and perverse,” failed statewide, but similar local initiatives were later passed in cities and counties across Oregon — including Canby, Oregon City and Molalla.

Two Canby city councilors who’d opposed the initiative, Maureen Miltenberger and Joe Driggers, were recalled from office the following year, even after they were vindicated by state law and court cases invalidating the local anti-LGBTQ ordinances.

“History does not look kindly on that mayor and the rest of council,” Spoon said. “I often wonder how history will look upon this era of Canby, where sometimes cruelty seems to be the point. Our children are watching and listening the same way I did, and history does not forget.”

Spoon, who identifies as queer, says her election in 2016 as the first openly LGBTQ city councilor in Canby — 23 years after the battles over Ballot Measure 9 — was a sign that “there is hope even in the shadow of darkness.” Her time on the council was the “most humbling privilege,” she said.

“Serving this community, meeting with and listening to citizens and neighbors, while all dreaming about a better Canby together, will always be a highlight of my life, and I have never taken this seat for granted,” she said.

“I have given every spare minute, and my family will tell you, many minutes that were not spare, to work on behalf of my voters as well as the people who did not vote for me. I have always fought for this town.”

Spoon was a polarizing figure during her time on the council. She was the first or second leading vote-getter in the elections of 2016 and 2020, and her announcement this week was met with dismay and gratitude from supporters on social media.

But her progressive views chafed more conservative members of council and the community. An unsuccessful recall effort targeting her and another council member last year cited her comedy music videos and an explicit social media post that criticized former President Donald Trump, which outraged some conservatives.

Spoon noted at the time that the recall appeared to have nothing to do with her performance as an elected official.

“All of the accusations appear to be about things I have done in my personal life and, particularly, things I have said during personal time with my family while enjoying and exercising my First Amendment rights,” she said after the recall petition was filed in August 2021.

Spoon’s announcement also follows an election in which her longtime ally, Greg Parker, and Art Marine, a councilor whom she referred and voted to appoint last April, lost their re-election bids to more conservative challengers.

In conjunction with her statement Wednesday, Spoon proposed that the council vacancy be advertised immediately with interviews set for a special meeting on December 21. She further proposed that the new councilor be sworn in the following day, a regular council meeting, at which time her resignation would become effective.

Spoon said such a process was in accordance the letter of the city charter, which requires the council to have six members, and also followed a similar precedent set by former Councilor Todd Rocha, who announced his resignation in September 2016, but continued to serve until a replacement could be appointed.

Spoon’s replacement would be appointed to serve the remainder of her term, through December 2024.

Qualified applicants must have been a resident of the city of Canby for at least 12 months and be a current registered Oregon voter. For information or to apply online, visit the city’s website.

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