BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilor-Elect Casey Roats received approval to assume his seat with other newly-elected councilors on January 1. In a special meeting Monday afternoon, councilors voted 5 to 2 to allow Roats to move forward despite claims he didn't meet residency requirements. Roats tells KBND News, he's relieved. "I'm sure going to work hard in having a good relationship with the other city councilors. And, what would be really helpful is if the people who are filing these lawsuits would stop. The lawsuit we had was dismissed by the judge this afternoon, and it is my great hope that we don't get another one. I'd rather put all my attention on getting ready to be on the city council than on fighting another frivolous lawsuit."
Foster Fell filed the initial civil suit, along with a complaint to the Secretary of State's Election Division, claiming Roats wasn't qualified to run for the council because he lived outside the city limits during part of the year prior to the election. Fell is the partner of councilor-elect Barb Campbell. Roats admitted to temporarily living in his parents' house just outside of Bend while his home was under construction. Roats says Monday's vote proves his residency intent was clear. "I can't tell you how many people have approached me on the street or in restaurants or in our place of business, and they would say 'give me a break. You were building your home in Bend and it's hard to show any more intent to live in Bend than to be building a home.' So, I'm very pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I'm just really happy to be moving forward."
Councilor Doug Knight and Mayor Jim Clinton cast the two dissenting votes. Roats believes they took a stricter look at the 12-month residency rule. Councilors will must adopt Monday's findings at the regular City Council meeting on Wednesday, December 3rd.