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Ray removes himself from City Council

The Foothills Sun-Gazette of Exeter, California

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Council member Chuck Ray retires from council after missing over a dozen meetings this year

woodlake — Taking an oath of office is a sacred rite of passage for those who are entrusted with upholding the public will via their elected position. At the local level elected officials are not an abstract member of society.

For some communities they are trusted shop owners and active community members. However, regardless of the other positions they may hold in the town they serve, they have nonetheless taken on the responsibility of conveying the will of the public they are from.

During Woodlake's regularly scheduled Oct. 26 council meeting city staff presented the council with the resignation letter of councilman Chuck Ray. Since taking his oath of office last December Ray has been scarcely seen at meetings. While most items only require three members for a quorum there have been items that have required a fourth fifths vote that have been withheld because of Ray's absence.

According to Woodlake City Administrator Ramon Lara the items that require a four fifths vote are emergency measures. Notably this summer has been the emergency drought declaration and emergency drought expenditures. This past summer the City of Woodlake has attempted to pass emergency well expenditures in order to secure another groundwater source for the city.

"We were waiting on some items because we didn't have a four fifths vote," said Mayor Rudy Mendoza. "We can't wait 10 months to address an item."

Currently the test well is slated to be drilled near the airport and will be 16 inches in diameter. However, there is still the hurdle of having electricity run out to the well. Lara noted at the meeting last Monday that it will likely be two months for Southern California Edison to take up the request.

As most Woodlake residents know this is not the first time that Ray has been on, and then resigned from council. In 1998 Ray was elected to council and then 10 years later he resigned due to conflicts with his work schedule. It has been rumored that his work schedule is the same source of consternation this term as well.

Gonzalez replaced Ray who stepped down from his seat when he was transferred outside of the district. Ray, a fire captain with CalFire, had previously served three terms on the Council from 1998-2008. Gonzalez replaced Ray midway through his third term, and then was elected back to council in 2010, and then again in last year's November election.

The Council will now be tasked with appointing a person to the vacant seat within 60 days or allow the set to remain vacant until next year's November election.

While the council may have accepted the resignation there was some contentious feelings toward the now former council member.

"We have bills to pay here and we need a four fifths vote. When you make a commitment you have to be here," said councilmember Jose Martinez.

As well Ray turned in his letter in a typed out format absent of his own signature. Vice Mayor Francis Ortiz stated that the lack of a signature was a message to the council that they were an uneducated group. "It's a lack of respect for the council, and I would request that he come in and sign it," said Ortiz. "I feel there is a tendency there to try and say that we are not a learned enough group to understand that it needs to be signed."

By the meetings conclusion the council voted to accept Ray's resignation letter. As well during Monday's meeting the council voted on a measure that members must submit a written letter to council if they are going to be absent for 60 days or more. Therefore, the council can determine whether the absence is excusable and avoid another elongated open ended string absences.

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Original Publication Date: November 4, 2015

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