Carla Vandiver portrait

Carla Vandiver took office as mayor of Hamilton on Jan. 1, 2020.

HAMILTON — Tensions are boiling over in the town of Hamilton, with two of five council members calling for Mayor Carla Vandiver to resign and some residents expressing a desire to institute a recall.

“I’m just done. She is unprofessional, she is not time efficient, she is not financially efficient, and I have no confidence in our mayor,” town council member Travis Patrick said. “I just finally said enough is enough and submitted the email requesting her resignation.”

Town Council member Lisa Johnson seconded the request from Patrick on Thursday, asking in an email to the council, mayor and staff for the mayor to resign.

“The people of the town are the ones that are crying and saying ‘She needs to be gone, we are done with this,’” Johnson said. “I have had so many people come up to me and say ‘What is going on?’”

Vandiver was elected in November 2019, and began her term Jan. 1, 2020. Her term ends Dec. 31, 2023.

Some council members and residents say Town Hall is rarely open to the public, council meetings are canceled with little warning, and emails and phone calls go unanswered despite Vandiver having hired a new town clerk and purchasing cellphones for town staff without council approval.

“I’m tired of all the turmoil we’ve been going through with it all,” Johnson said.

Barb DePoppe is a longtime town resident who is worried about Vandiver’s behavior.

Upon learning of a Town Hall painting job and the hiring of new staff without council oversight, DePoppe said she filed a request for public records in June. In the months that followed, she said she received only terse emails from Town Hall, rather than the documentation she sought.

“Her last email was basically telling me to mind my own business,” DePoppe said of Vandiver’s response. “Things are just really starting to snowball and I cannot believe what a person in her position, as a public servant, is doing.”

Patrick, Johnson and DePoppe each said they are under the impression that either the paperwork they seek doesn’t exist because procedure wasn’t followed, or that Vandiver is hiding it from public view.

DePoppe said she is concerned enough that she’s leading an effort to recall the mayor.

“It’s almost comical it’s so insane,” DePoppe said. “It’s time to change the locks on Town Hall.”

Johnson and Patrick said DePoppe is far from the only resident concerned. They said they have heard from many.

“As a council person I know I am the voice of the people and the people have spoken, therefore I’m going to speak up for them,” Patrick said.

Vandiver said “I have no comment” when asked to discuss the issue with the Skagit Valley Herald.

In an email response to council members, and provided to the Skagit Valley Herald, Vandiver said: “I have no intention on resigning.”

Council members Alyssa Boots and Tim Morrison did not respond to phone or email requests for comment, and council member Dean Vandiver, the mayor’s partner, said he rejects the idea of her resignation.

“Right now there is no weight to what they are throwing out there, so I don’t support that,” he said of issues Patrick and Johnson raised in their emails. “Everything in there has no bearing.”

Dean Vandiver did corroborate Patrick’s concern that the mayor threatened to defund the town fire department after the couple’s house burned down.

“She had a right to be upset and yeah she threatened them, to shut them down ... but they need a lot of help in training,” Dean Vandiver said. “They put a person on when our house was on fire who did not even know how to put out a house fire ... Only three people showed up. We lost our entire house.”

Patrick called Carla Vandiver’s reaction out of line.

“A mayor should never threaten to defund public services,” he said. “She’s just bullying people.”

Patrick, Johnson and DePoppe said it’s also poor form that the mayor doesn’t abide by town ordinances to which other residents are held accountable.

They said on the lot where the Vandivers’ home burned down, the couple has multiple trailers and multiple horses on about a third of an acre.

“Our ordinance says you have to have one half-acre per animal,” Johnson said.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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