MONMOUTH -- People don't actually have to live in Monmouth to serve on the city council.
That was the conclusion reached by the council Jan. 8. It means Councilor Rena Hoover stays on the council
Developer Bob Ballard raised charges that Councilor Rena Hoover was serving illegally because she sold her home and moved to Albany.
Councilors reviewed the Monmouth City Charter.
Nowhere in the charter does it specify that a councilor must be living in Monmouth.
Under a strict reading of the charter, the only qualifications are that a councilor reside in Monmouth for at least a year prior to being elected and that the candidate be registered to vote.
There is also a requirement that the councilor own property in the city. However, City Attorney Mark Irick said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled such provisions unconstitutional.
Mayor Paul Evans, on leave from active duty in the Air Force, said the charter should require councilors to be residents of Monmouth.
However, he said, the letter of the law says otherwise.
Councilor Patrick Moser agreed that the charter should be amended to include a residency requirement. "Should it be there? Yes. Is it there? No."
Councilor Jack Scheirman said more than 100 years of tradition and precedent, if the not the letter of the charter, require residency.
Councilor Bev Davis said other councilors have resigned when they have moved out of town.
Davis and Scheirman voted against councilors Stan Peterson and Patrick Moser. Hoover abstained because of conflict of interest.
The vote enables Hoover to stay on the council.
Ballard raised the issue because the council voted on his proposed $2.5 million subdivision in October. Hoover cast the deciding vote against the development. Ballard claimed Hoover had already moved to Albany at the time and was not qualified to vote on the council.
Hoover said she moved to Albany Nov. 12, well after the October vote. She has abstained from voting since moving.
The move to Albany is only temporary, she said. She sold her house in Monmouth after her recent marriage. She and her husband intend to buy another home in Monmouth, she said.
In the meantime, the couple is living in a home her husband owns in Albany. However, Hoover spends most her days and nights in Monmouth as she cares for her sick mother.
Hoover said she and her husband will be living in Monmouth again within the next month.
Evans called for a review of the charter with an eye toward putting in a residency requirement.