Meetings, work hours prompt Prineville councilor to resign

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: March 30. 2007 5:00AM PST

Prineville City Councilor Tim Harris has announced his intention to resign, citing work-related conflicts.

He has been on the council since 2005, when he was first appointed to fill a vacant seat.

Harris, 33, said he has not yet sent a letter of resignation to the city, but plans to do so by early next week. He added that the resignation is effective immediately.

“I get up at 2:30 in the morning and (council meetings) have been going to 11 o’clock at night, and it was starting to kind of affect my job a little bit,” said Harris, who works in the headquarters of Les Schwab Tire Centers.

“I drive a semi, I drive a $500,000 piece of machinery, and (with) an hour or two hours of sleep, I didn’t feel safe.”

Harris said he started working a shift that requires him to be at work at 3 a.m. about eight months ago. When he was elected in November, he said, and he had some concerns about the hours, but the conflicts have worsened since the beginning of this year.

Prineville’s council meetings have been running long since a controversy broke out in late January about the elimination of Public Works Director Jim Mole’s position. That led to crowded meetings with residents berating the City Council and City Manager Robb Corbett.

Harris had acted as a go-between with the Public Works Department and voiced disagreement with the way some events were handled, but he said that did not play a large part in his decision to resign.

“I respect every councilor, everything they had to say, you know, I respect it, and I felt that I was well respected, too,” he said. “I didn’t necessarily agree with the direction the city was maybe heading, but it didn’t have too much influence on my decision.”

Mayor Mike Wendel said he understands Harris’ reasons for resigning, but added that Harris will be missed on the council.

“I appreciate the commitment that Tim has given to the community, the amount of hours and his dedication to this city,” Wendel said. “He’s definitely been an asset to the community, and I thank him for that.”

Wendel and Councilor Steve Uffelman said that as a young parent and Les Schwab employee, Harris brought an important perspective to the council.

“It’s unfortunate because Tim had a lot to offer to Prineville and he was committed to making the town the best he could,” Uffelman said. “I like his upfront approach to attempting to resolve problems or resolve issues.”

According to the city charter, vacant City Council positions are filled by appointment and approved by a majority vote of the remaining councilors. The appointee would begin work immediately and serve out the rest of Harris’ term, which expires Dec. 31, 2010. Prineville City Council positions are unpaid and last for four years.

Wendel said he hopes to spend some time recruiting a group of applicants from the community.

“My goal at this point would be to really search out and get out into the community, explain what the job is, the time commitment that it takes and everything about the position,” he said. “We are a very fast-growing community, we have a lot of things that are coming at us in the future, and it’s going to take a lot of time, and it’s going to take a big commitment from somebody.”

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