EDITORIAL: Tonasket mayor should resign

It appears Tonasket Mayor Dennis Brown is in over his head regarding the city’s current police — or lack thereof — situation.

Last week the mayor came under fire during a regular city council meeting after he declined to answer questions asked by the public regarding allegations that he asked a former officer to change his name.

Officer Jose Perez, who was terminated last week for reasons that remain unclear, alleged the mayor asked him to change his name to “Joseph” because “Jose” was too “stereotypical.”

“It sounded too Hispanic,” Perez alleges he was told.

The mayor said “Jose” is a translation to “Joseph.” In all fairness, using a Spanish translator online, the mayor is correct. But do names really translate? A person’s birthname is his name. This is 2019 after all.

Last month the mayor came under fire after the firing, re-hiring and firing of Police Chief Darin Odegaard and Officer John Cruz.

The police department has since been disbanded.

To further complicate matters, two city council members expressed their lack of confidence in the mayor.

City Councilwoman Christa “Teagan” Levine said, “I have completely lost confidence in our mayor and all we can do is keep on doing our job to the best of our abilities.”

Fellow councilmember Jill Ritter echoed.

“I do not feel that the city can afford any more liability than what we’ve already experienced, and it is not fair to ask the tax payers of this community to keep paying the cost of liability for your preventable mistakes,” Ritter said. “I would not be asking you to step down as our mayor if you had shown me over the last year you are making an effort to educate yourself on the duties you have been given by the voters of this community. Or that you take your position seriously enough to put the effort in.”

The Chronicle endorsed Mayor Brown, as we thought he would be a breath of fresh air to the city (and it was hard for us to conceive an endorsement for incumbent Patrick Plumb, who didn’t even live in Okanogan County). But after Mayor Brown’s actions — or lack thereof — at last week’s city council meeting, we too have lost confidence in the mayor.

During the meeting the mayor acknowledged some of his mistakes and shortfalls but said he would not resign.

“Well, I’ve made some mistakes. I’m really sorry about those mistakes,” he said. “I’m not gonna step down. So, we’re gonna be makin’ changes here in the near future.”

We appreciate the mayor’s service to the city prior to all of the police department shenanigans, but we think it would be in the mayor’s best interest (and the city’s) if he would reconsider.

Mayor Brown should gracefully resign from his post before things get even more out of control.

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