Recall is inappropriate

I’m supporting the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commissioners and director in their reorganization of the Ashland Senior Center. While I’ve read all the comments in the paper and talked to some of those who want to recall three commissioners, I’m not convinced that a recall is appropriate.

I propose that the direction the APRC has taken in laying off the Senior Center manager was the right decision. The remaining four part-time staff resigned their positions, with one day's notice, rather than face layoff. I suppose this was in solidarity with the manager, but it did not allow for continuity that might have been planned. I’m saying the layoff was appropriate because of my own experience with hiring and laying off folks when I was a school superintendent. Also, I served recently as an Ashland Parks and Recreation commissioner and worked with all the commissioners and the director. I’m trusting the folks I voted for to do the right thing.

I’ve read and heard many comments from supporters of the previous Senior Center manager that she and the rest of the staff should not have been laid off because they were well liked and ran a successful program. I still support the layoffs. My reason for this support is that I’m trusting the individuals I voted for as commissioners and the parks director are working in my and the city’s best interests. There have been many questions about “why” the Senior Center manager was laid off and why the APRC director wouldn’t give a reason.

From my experience as a school superintendent, there are times when you can’t give a reason for a layoff on advice of your attorney. When you do personnel decisions you either listen to your attorney and follow their advice or you don’t stay in your job for very long. I personally judge that the parks director had a good reason for the layoffs or they would not have been issued. That good reason could be as simple as wanting a new direction for the Senior Center and that the commissioners and director judged a new manager could be a better fit to succeed.

While many of the folks supporting the recall are saying the APRC made the wrong decision in laying off the Senior Center manager, their jump to a recall seems inappropriate to me. It’s inappropriate because if you don’t like the decisions your APRC made and you’ve attended meetings and didn’t get the results you wanted, run for the APRC or support another candidate. If you recall candidates for citywide offices for a decision that they made that you don’t like, you make it more difficult to attract good candidates for civic duty.

One positive aspect of this controversy is that it’s highlighting the importance of the APRC, and I’m hoping we have a good field of candidates for the next election in November 2018. However, I don’t believe a recall is the right way to accomplish this. Let’s encourage folks to file and run for an elected position and then vote for the candidate you believe will do the best job.

— Vanston Shaw of Ashland is a former parks commissioner.