Absent Woodland councilman may quit

City officials say Christopherson plans to step down, relocate

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

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Aaron Christopherson, absent.

Those three words have become increasingly common at Woodland City Council meetings this year, and now it now appears the 23-year-old councilman’s absence will become permanent.

Christopherson notified Mayor Chuck Blum during a workshop Monday night that he planned to step down because he was moving to Vancouver, the mayor and City Clerk Mari Ripp said. Christopherson has not submitted his resignation in writing, but his resignation is an item on the council’s draft agenda for its upcoming Monday meeting.

“The mayor is expecting it, but we haven’t received anything,” Ripp said Wednesday.

Christopherson has missed the previous two regular council meetings with unexcused absences and faces removal from the council should he miss next Monday’s meeting without being excused, city officials said. He has faced such a third-strike removal on two other occasions this year, according to city council minutes.

In 2007, Christopherson became the area’s youngest elected official when he won election at age 19. He chose not to seek re-election this fall.

Tony Brentin and Marshall Allen are running for Christopherson’s seat in the Nov. 8 general election. It is doubtful the council would appoint a replacement for Christopherson so close to the election, Blum said.

An inspection of Christopherson’s attendance record in 2011 suggests he has largely finished his term in absentia. Christopherson has missed 10 of 17 council meetings, with only two of his absences excused. He has also missed eight joint or special meetings, with only one of those excused.

Christopherson did not return phone calls Monday or Tuesday seeking comment about his attendance record. A man who answered Christopherson’s phone Monday and identified himself as his business partner said the councilman was in the process of resigning due to his move to Vancouver.

This is not the first time Christopherson claimed he was moving to Vancouver, Woodland councilman Benjamin Fredricks said.

“I’ve heard that for the last three months,” Fredricks said. “I will believe that when I see that.”

Fredricks questioned why Christopherson would remain on the council this long if he could not make meetings.

“You’re not representing the citizens if you’re not participating in the process,” Fredricks said, adding he believed Christopherson thought being a councilman would “be a lot sexier than it is.”

In an independent audit released earlier this year, Blum alleged that Christopherson asked him to falsify a loan application. Christopherson vehemently denied the mayor’s allegation.

In a Tuesday afternoon phone interview, Blum said he believed the young councilman had “grown up.” Yet he was perplexed as to why Christopherson did not return phone calls or notify the city he planned on being absent.

“He’s an adult,” Blum said. “It’s not my job to hold his hand. He receives the same info (about meetings) as everyone else.”

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; www.facebook.com/raylegend; www.twitter.com/col_smallcities; ray.legendre@columbian.com.