La Center’s longtime mayor, Greg Thornton, announced last week he would be stepping down from the city council effective immediately. The announcement was made via a letter read to the council during a March 23 meeting.
“I no longer feel I can fully perform the necessary duties and responsibilities, nor represent the city of La Center to the best of my abilities as your mayor at the highest level possible. I now wish to solely focus on my health and recovery,” Thornton said in the letter.
Thornton’s letter was read by Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Cerveny.
Thornton served as a La Center City Council member from 2010 to 2015 before being elected mayor. In 2019, Thornton was elected to a second term as mayor after receiving 78.14 percent of votes cast. He also served as a planning commissioner from 2007 to 2010.
In his letter, Thornton thanked fellow council members Cerveny, Melissa Fox, KC Kasberg, Sean Boyle and Tom Strobehn, among others, for their dedication to the community. Thornton went on to thank several city staff members and departments, as well as those serving on various committees.
“I also wish to acknowledge my high regard and admiration for our outstanding city staff. Each of these individuals demonstrates the highest level of professionalism, commitment, and dedication the city of La Center has ever had. I greatly respect their talents and abilities, and I am extremely proud of the caliber of talent we now have representing the city,” Thornton said.
In a statement released last week, city officials thanked Thornton for his long years of service.
“Mayor Thornton successfully led the city of La Center through major organizational restructuring processes, policy updates, and staffing changes. Under his leadership, the city streamlined internal practices to better serve the community. In addition, Thornton established excellent relationships with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, staff at ilani, and developers interested in the La Center community,” the release said.
Thornton’s leadership “positively impacted La Center’s vision and sense of place as planning efforts were undertaken to grow the city’s economic base at the La Center Junction, the Historic Town Center, and Timmen Landing areas, as well as expanded access to parks, open space, natural areas, and recreational amenities,” the release said.
During the council meeting, city attorney E. Bronson Potter outlined the process for replacing Thornton as mayor. Potter said the position could be filled by another council member or through an application and interview process. The council will likely decide which path it will take during the next council meeting on April 12.
“I’ve been a municipal attorney for over 30 years, and Mayor Thornton’s been one of the finest individuals I’ve had the privilege of working with,” Potter said. “I’m going to miss his calm and steady demeanor and presence on the council.”