Long-serving Depoe Bay councilor resigns

Long-serving Depoe Bay city councilor and former mayor Barbara Leff speaks during the Aug. 4 council meeting at Depoe Bay City Hall. There, the 81-year-old Leff submitted her resignation from the city council in order to focus on her duties as president of the board of the Depoe Bay Fire District.

DEPOE BAY — After recently earning election as president of the Depoe Bay Fire District Board, Barbara Leff, longtime Depoe Bay City Council member and the city’s former mayor, submitted her letter of resignation from the council during its regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 4 at Depoe Bay City Hall.

“We’ve lived in Depoe Bay for over 20 years and probably 12 of them, and don’t hold me to that number exactly, but a lot of years on the council or being mayor,” Leff told the News-Times immediately following the council meeting’s adjournment. “And almost the entire time I’ve been on the board of the fire department. So, leaving the city council was a big decision, but when they elected me president of the fire district board, I thought, you know, I’m old enough that I can relax a little bit and pull back to only part-time volunteer work.”

Depoe Bay Mayor Robert Gambino, who succeeded the 81-year-old Leff as mayor, joked that the council might not be ready to accept the letter of resignation, but only after he heaped praise on her.

“I can’t say enough about how much we appreciate your service to the city,” Gambino said. “This is ... wow, incredible. We’re going to miss you, and we’re going to have to decide if we’re going to accept your resignation.”

Leff playfully responded by reminding Gambino that she would also vote on whether council accepts her resignation, effective Aug. 15. The agenda item passed unanimously.

“This was not an easy decision, but overall, I see the city council as very qualified, doing a good job running the city,” Leff said. “And you won’t miss me. I promise.”

Next, the council voted 6-0, with Councilor Jerome Grant not present via excused absence, to appoint a new member to fill Leff’s unexpired term through the end of the year, rather than leaving the position vacant. Gambino estimated a new city councilor could be seated by September.

That now means five council seats — those currently held by Councilor Loren Goddard in position 1, Councilor Debbie Calendar in position 2, Councilor Joyce King in position 3, Leff in position 6 and Mayor Gambino’s seat — are in contention during the Nov. 3 general election.

“Mr. Mayor, I would suggest to go ahead and post (the council seat opening) because I think that even though it’s a short period of time, that person would have enormous information and experience with these meetings to help when the new year comes,” King said during council member deliberation on the subject. “I’d strongly recommend that.”   

After the meeting, Leff spoke on how she hopes her service to the city will be remembered.

“You know, I don’t really think of myself as leaving a legacy,” she said. “I hope that I made good, fair, forward-thinking decisions on behalf of Depoe Bay, and that the people who come after me will be as thoughtful and caring and do all their research and support each other on council, which is another really important thing. My legacy is that I want this town to continue to thrive, to grow, but not too much too fast, and to stay the wonderful place that it is.”

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