Paulette Lichatowich

Paulette Lichatowich.

Paulette Lichatowich withdraws from county commissioner race only a few days after her resignation from the Port of St. Helens Commission. 

Lichatowich announced on Tuesday, July 10, she is withdrawing from the General Election for the Board of County Commissioners.

Lichatowich emailed the following statement in a press release with her announcement:

It has been an honor to serve the people of Columbia County throughout my tenure on the Port of St. Helens where I worked to increase transparency, represent 21st century ideas and values and listen to constituents throughout the county. The state ethics board recently dismissed claims brought against me. However, the process of defending these false claims in the same responsible manner that I’ve represented my constituents has placed too great of a strain on my family. With regret, I announced my resignation from the Port of St. Helens. In addition, I am withdrawing from the General Election for the Board of County Commissioners.

What a twist in my life when I was accused of an ethical violation and an ethics complaint was filed against me with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. The complaint was a personal attack on me by a man who has been attacking me for more than a year and is so focused on hurting me, really hurting me that it felt like he wanted to bureaucratically attack and destroy my reputation. And, in reference to the ethics complaints he filed against me he says in an email sent to 72 people that there may be more ethics complaints by the time he is done.

I attended the Oregon Government Ethics Commission with my husband, and not with my attorney as falsely reported by some. In my rebuttal I showed the complaints were simply willful ignorance of port policies. And on the day of their deliberations, the commissioners spoke frequently about the importance of recognizing their decisions affect families, that the process is stressful and can cause loss of professional opportunities for individuals who simply serve the people.

I was granted the opportunity to present the facts about the complaint and the ethics commissioners listened. I felt, they saw the complaint as a personal attack on me. After their dismissal, how do I begin to make my life whole again with the personal attacks continuing? How many people will be held accountable for the false personal attacks on me and my family? Who are the people who publicly continue to repeat and promote the lies made by one or two people? Those questions need to be answered. Therefore, because the people involved have trivialized my years of service on the Port Commission and the 2018 election process and the continuing assault of misinformation, I will not run again for elected office in Columbia County.

County Commissioners declined to comment on the withdrawal until more information becomes available.

County officials could not immediately confirm how the fall election would proceed in light of Lichatowich’s withdrawal.

Don Campbell from Rainier, who ran for Pos. 2 on the Columbia County Board of Commissioners in the Oregon Primary Election in May, said residents have to “vote for change by uniting together and establishing a ‘write in’ candidate.”

“Given the unfortunate turn of events, that if Paulette has quit her candidacy, then the citizens of the county only have one option left to vote for change,” Campbell said. 

On Friday, July 6, Lichatowich announced her resignation from the Port of St. Helens Commission.

Executive Director of the Port of St. Helens, Doug Hayes, confirmed Friday afternoon that Port Commissioner Lichatowich has resigned - effective Friday, July 6.

In a letter dated Friday, July 6, to Port of St. Helens Commission President Michael Avent and Hayes, Lichatowich said she appreciated the opportunity to serve on the commission.

“It has been a rewarding experience for me to work with you for the benefit of the Post District,” she wrote, saying the letter was her resifnation from the Port of St. Helens Commission.

“I hope you are successful in finding a candidate to fill the position I have held for three years. I wish all of you the best for the future.”

Lichatowich, who lives in Columbia City, was elected to the Port of St. Helens Commission in 2015. Her seat is up for re-election in 2019.

In response to the news of her resignation on social media, Lichatowich wrote “It has been an honor to serve the people of Columbia County throughout my tenure on the Port of St. Helens where I worked to increase transparency, represent 21st century ideas and values and listen to constituents throughout the county. The state ethics board recently dismissed claims brought against me. However, the process of defending the legal, responsible manner in which I’ve represented my constituents has placed too great of a strain on my family. With regret, I am announcing my resignation from the Port of St. Helens.

Recent ethics complaint

On Friday, June 29, Lichatowich announced she was cleared of ethics complaints reported to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission by Scappoose business owner Brady Preheim in April.

Preheim contacted the ethics agency and alleged that Lichatowich may have violated state ethical guidelines by using her status on the Port commission for personal financial gain, also alleging that Lichatowich held conflicts of interest.

Documents from the Oregon Government Ethics Commission that were dated July 3 confirmed that the complaint against Lichatowich was dismissed.

According to the Port of St. Helens website, Lichatowich is a retired small business owner working 18 years as a co-owner of a fisheries research consulting company and 2 years as a sole proprietor manufacturing cloth bags. She was employed 13 years at Oregon State University and 8 years for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe in Sequim, Washington.

She volunteers locally for Community Meals and has been a Columbia County Planning Commissioner for 10 years, according to the website.

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