Medina at a July city council meeting. ERIN TIERNEY/THE CHRONICLE
CRESWELL – Creswell City Councilor JoeRell Medina has resigned, calling Oregon “a totalitarian state” in a Sept. 18 letter to his council colleagues.
“My family has decided that we can no longer live in a state that attacks our children in schools and is taking our freedoms away day by day,” Medina wrote in his resignation letter. “Oregon is becoming a totalitarian state and so we must go where we can trust the school system and be free.” He did not say where he was going next.
He first came into the local government sphere after condemning the City’s equity and inclusion initiative, an issue councilors considered in the summer of 2020. Medina was elected in November of that year to a four-year term, and was often an oppositional figure on the council. Last month Medina declared his candidacy for the open mayor position following Amy Knudsen’s resignation due to “undue stress.” Council president Kevin Prociw and former three-time mayor Dave Stram declared their candidacies for the position, too.
Medina’s resignation and stated intention to move out of Oregon means he will no longer be a candidate for Creswell mayor. Public records show that Medina’s house in Creswell went on the real estate market Sept 2; the property sale is pending for nearly $400,000.
Medina served nine months on the council before resigning, making him the fourth public official to resign in the past year in Creswell, following the resignation of former mayors Richard Zettervall and Knudsen, as well as councilor Martha McReynolds Jr. – all of whom Medina criticized publicly for “pushing their own agendas,” be it Covid restrictions, equity initiatives, or accusing them of conspiring with the local media to push a narrative that “Creswell is racist.”
His decorum at council meetings and toward other community members noted in letters to council and to The Chronicle in recent weeks. In these letters, Medina was described as a “reticent-to-learn” councilor. During council sessions, city leaders have had to pause sessions to explain the law, structure, and budget issues in response to Medina’s inquiries and statements.
Councilors meet during its August work session. From left is Medina, council president Prociw and councilor Alonzo Costilla. ERIN TIERNEY/THE CHRONICLE
Residents also noted a “clear disregard for orderly, respectful meetings.” While on the city council, Medina criticized the council for “failing” its citizens by not hosting the Fourth of July parade this year, an event the City never hosted. He also criticized the police for issuing citations to two parade organizers, saying that they were punished for “celebrating America.” Creswell’s Julie Bivens and Cottage Grove’s Chris Tough, a self-identified Proud Boy member, were cited for hosting a parade without filing for permits, and for confederating to violate the ordinance after repeated warnings issued by the Lane County Sheriff’s Office prior to the event.
After being tabled the year prior, the subject of equity was broached again in July – the same subject that initially sprung his interest in running for council. Medina went on the offense when the subject was reintroduced, interrupting fellow councilors as they spoke, and asserting that the use of terms like “equity” and “inclusion” were “very troubling” in city government.
Also in July, Medina made statements on anti-government websites, making vague allegations about Creswell’s city manager, calling her mindset “dangerous” and that “disciplinary actions” be made for her “lack of respect.”
He proposed in May that the City of Creswell adopt a resolution to allow local businesses to defy the governor’s orders during future emergencies – one that was modeled off a Baker City resolution in the early stages of the pandemic. The city attorney soon thereafter discouraged the proposal, saying that council does not have authority to enact a mental health or crime crisis, that it should not abuse its authority to push a political message, and it cannot instruct others to violate state authority.
With the vacancy, next steps include the council accepting his resignation at its Oct. 11 meeting, according to city recorder Roberta Tharp. At that meeting, the council will direct staff to advertise the vacant position and accept applications.
The current makeup of the Creswell city council includes president Prociw, Alonzo Costilla, Misty Inman, Shelly Clark and Jeri Hutchinson.