‘No confidence’ in Tonasket mayor voiced by two councilmembers

Mayor Dennis Brown says he won’t step down

TONASKET — Tonasket Councilwomen Christa Levine and Jill Ritter said they have no confidence in Mayor Dennis Brown following the actions he took which resulted in the firing of the police chief and disbanding of the police department.

Tonasket Mayor Dennis Brown
Tonasket Mayor Dennis Brown

During her report at the Tuesday, Jan. 8 council meeting, Levine said she had gone to coffee with Brenda Jones to discuss the police department situation, as well as possible ways to keep officer José Perez, who had recently been laid off from the department (see related article).

“I always welcome people to give me a call or go have coffee. So we talked for a long time. She gave me some questions, the conversation was mostly about the police department,” said Levine.

“Response time, that was a huge concern. Today at one o’clock we met with the sheriff and there was several other people there from the sheriff’s department. We asked lots of questions. Nothing was decided,” she said.

According to Levine, the city is trying to listen to everyone.

“We’re trying to hear their concerns and we’re going to bring it to the people next week. Sheriff of Okanogan County Tony Hawley has agreed to do a town hall,” said Levine.

A woman asked the mayor who advised him to lay off Perez.

“The council,” said Mayor Brown.

The room erupted with shouts from some present, demanding Perez be reinstated. Some insisted lies have been told.

“I looked into something a couple weeks ago because I’ve lost confidence in our mayor and in his decision making process and I wanted to see if there is any way that we can vote to reduce the mayor’s salary,” said Levine.

“Right now he is getting $650 a month and I thought it was more appropriate of $50 a month,” said Levine.

According to Levine, she was told by the MRSC (Municipal Research and Services Center) that council can not do that.

Councilwoman Ritter followed Levine with a vote of no confidence in the mayor.

“For the last year this council has been patient with you while you learn parliamentary procedure, as well as educating yourself on responsibilities as a mayor. You have have not shown improvement in any aspect of your duties in the last year,” said Ritter.

She continued, “During the past six months, you have not handled the issues with the police department in a professional manner. Your answers to questions from this council and public have not be consistent or truthful at times. I will not allow your lies to drag me or this council down and reflect poorly on all of us.”

Ritter stated the decisions the mayor has made in the past without council imput or guidance from the city attorney has created a liability for the city.

“If you do not know how to approach an issue, you should’ve at least educated yourself as to where to go for the information or who to ask. You have signed documents without thoroughly reading them and that has created even more liability for the city,” said Ritter.

According to Ritter, the mayor has made decisions based on emotion, causing more harm than good.

“I would not be asking you step down as our mayor if you had shown me in the last year that you are making an effort to educate yourself on the duties you have been given by the voters of this community and that you take your position seriously enough to put the effort in,” said Ritter.

The councilwoman said it was for all the reasons she outlined that she was casting her vote of no confidence in the mayor.

“Is that a motion?” said Levine.

“Dennis, these people are throwing you under the bus,” said Jones.

Some in the room encouraged the mayor to stand up and tell all.

“And still you sit,” said one woman in the crowd.

“I don’t feel that I’ve had council behind me from day one,” said Brown.

“We were just doing a vote of no confidence and we hope that if you don’t step down, that you will please learn and educate yourself, instead of being reactive,” said Levine.

Levine asked the mayor to be consistent in his decisions and what he tells them.

Councilwoman Maria Moreno apologized for how the police department issue has been handled and assured the public it was not the council’s decision to do it in the manner it was handled.

The mayor said he has made mistakes.

“The one piece of paper, I did make a mistake, there was no date on it and I did make the mistake of signing my name to it. That was a big mistake. I regret it and I apologize for it. But there is nothing I can do about it now,” said Mayor Brown.

“I haven’t done anything up here that I didn’t think I was doing for the best for my community. I have lived here over 47 years in this town. The only reason I ran for mayor is I saw some things that I couldn’t quite handle and thought this was the only way to make improvements,” said Brown.

“I’m really sorry about those mistakes .” added Brown.

Brown said he will not be stepping down and that there will be changes here in the near future.

“We’ll see where it goes. I will do it the best I can and to the best of my abilities,” said Brown.

See related stories:

Public upset over Tonasket Police Department issues

Tonasket Police Chief fired, rehired and fired again

Former police chief alleged to have falsified documents, lied