Oregon City disqualifies Leslie Wright for November ballot
Oregon City mayoral candidate Leslie Wright was deemed ineligible for the November ballot because he allegedly failed to prove that he was a resident of the city for at least 12 months prior to the election date, as required by city charter.
Oregon City officials have notified Wright of the potential issues with him qualifying for the election while carrying a Washington state driver's license. On July 25, he obtained an Oregon temporary driver's license that lists an Oregon City address.
While this new license indicates Wright currently resides in Oregon City, officials said, it does not provide evidence of Wright's residency starting in November 2021.
Oregon state law requires that citizens obtain an Oregon license within 30 days of establishing residency here. City Recorder Jakob Wiley wrote on Aug. 8 that Wright's out-of-state driver's license was a major factor in the city's decision to disqualify Wright for the November election.
"Just as significant in my view is that you have been unable or unwilling to provide any information regarding the relevant time period for any of the other categories of information," Wiley wrote to Wright. "You have provided personal mail and utility service bills from both before and after that period, but none from November 2021 through March 2022."
Wright told Pamplin Media Group he had a simple explanation for not getting an Oregon driver's license: "I forgot."
He added, "It slipped my mind to get a new driver's license, so I didn't get a new one until someone reminded me."
Wright said that he would have provided more information to prove his residency, but he was unable to obtain certain documents.
"All I need is a year, and I tried to go back farther than that, but I couldn't because the VA threw out those records," Wright said.
Wright said the city's disqualification would only harm the city's most vulnerable populations.
"They're afraid of me, and they're doing everything they can to keep me off the ballot. I'm trying to help the people of Oregon City, and especially the homeless people," he said.
Wright's latest disqualification comes about a month after the Oregon City mayoral candidate was disqualified for holding office if he wins the election this month.
Wright's name appears on the Aug. 23 ballot even though Oregon City commissioners determined on July 6 that Wright is not eligible for the election.
Wright's name will appear on the mayoral ballot with two other candidates who failed to submit Voters' Pamphlet statements. Commission President Denyse McGriff, the fourth candidate and the only one who submitted a Voters' Pamphlet statement, recused herself from the process to disqualify Wright in July.
Wright's campaign has already been the subject of some controversy.
On July 1, County Circuit Judge Michael C. Wetzel ruled that Wright's filing for the city's "mirror" position rather than mayor was "sufficient" for showing intent to run in the mayoral election. Wright's mayoral campaign launched with a statement that he later said he regretted about plans to place homeless people in shuttered schools like "the Japanese."
City Attorney Bill Kabeismann said the county and secretary of state have cited a state statute mandating that a slate of candidates has to be finalized within 60 days of filing by the city recorder. While the ballots had not yet been printed when Oregon City commissioners made their determination of Wright's residency, state and county officials said the law mandates his name appear on the ballot anyway, given the timing of the city's decision.
Two mayoral elections are being held in a three-month period because the mayor who was elected to replace Dan Holladay after a 2020 recall, Rachel Lyles Smith, resigned prior to the end of her term, and the city charter calls for voters to fill the seat as soon as an election can be held.
According to a sworn statement from Wright's former employee, he had been living in Wilsonville during November and December 2021. Even without the sworn statement, commissioners said they had enough evidence to disqualify Wright from public office.
As the city recorder making his own determination for a separate election, Wiley found the former employee's testimony had merit.
"Persuasively, this office received unsolicited emails and an affidavit from a former employee attesting to your residence in Wilsonville, Oregon, during at least November and December 2021," Wiley wrote to Wright. "You have not provided any objective evidence to rebut the affidavit and, without some response or evidence otherwise, I have to accept it at face value."