Kris Sallee, former mayor and longtime council member for the city of Aurora, has broken her silence about her abrupt resignation last week, in a statement sent to the Canby Now Podcast and posted to her political Facebook page Wednesday night.
In the statement, she denied that her resignation had anything to do with the complaint filed against her with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries by City Recorder Scott Jorgensen, in which he claimed she harassed him while on paternity leave and had created a hostile work environment for him and other city staff.
She called the idea that her resignation was due to the complaint “absolutely false.”
“On the contrary, I strongly encourage the city recorder to pursue that complaint with vigilance to the end of its entire process,” she said. (Jorgensen had said he would not be taking further action with his BOLI complaint after Sallee’s resignation, feeling the matter had been resolved.)
Sallee denied that she had created a hostile work environment for Jorgensen, his predecessor or anyone else who worked for the city of Aurora. However, that’s not to say she believes there was a lack of hostility at Aurora City Hall.
“No one was more disappointed at my resignation than I was. However, since being installed as the duly elected mayor, over the last 9 months, an escalating, untenable atmosphere developed,” she said. “In totality, there was no hostile work environment established. What there was was an escalating hostile work force, and a hostile and vindictive council. This made it increasingly impossible to fulfill the requirements that the electorate required of me.”
In last week’s Aurora City Council meeting, which took place the night before Sallee tendered her resignation, the council and mayor had disagreed violently over the question of whether to appoint a personnel manager — an impartial liaison between the council and city staff.
This is a role that had typically been filled by the mayor, and Sallee felt strongly that it should remain under the duties of the city’s highest elective office. Sallee believes the mayor should, by default, also function in the role of city manager, a position that otherwise would be unfilled in the small city of Aurora.
In the end, Sallee was overruled, and Council President Tom Heitmanek was appointed to fulfill the role of personnel manager by a 4-1 vote.
“I have no misgivings with regard to my actions as mayor or city manager,” she said. “If I have any concerns at all, it is with the fact that this council selectively ignores the rules and procedures that are firmly established by the city charter, council procedures, and especially the employee handbook. This council has intentionally taken efforts to deconstruct the role and position of the mayor in the city of Aurora.”
Sallee accused the council of believing they “are not accountable for their actions or agenda to the citizens.”
“This was the greatest stumbling block between myself and the council, and my ability to conduct the business of the city on behalf of the citizens,” she said. “All there is left for me to say is I wish the citizens of Aurora all the best.”
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