New Morrow County commissioners helped recall the people they are replacing

By Antonio Sierra (OPB)
Feb. 16, 2023 1:14 a.m.

Roy Drago Jr., appointed Wednesday, and Jeff Wenholz both signed petitions to get recall votes for now former commissioners on the ballot

In the span of about two months, the entire three-person Morrow County Board of Commissioners turned over.

On Wednesday, the commissioners appointed Boardman City Councilor Roy Drago Jr. to fill a vacant seat, completing a transformation that started when new commissioners David Sykes and Jeff Wenholz took office in early January.


Drago was one of six candidates to seek the appointment and made the cut when the commissioners narrowed the field to three. Drago, the son of a former Morrow County sheriff, publicly interviewed for the job in early February and was the only finalist who hadn’t run for commissioner in 2022.

Before voting to appoint him, Sykes said he was supporting Drago because he had government experience through his time on the Boardman City Council.

“I’m basing my decision on experience, who served in government,” he said. “I think that’s important.”

Drago replaces former Commissioner Jim Doherty, who was forced out of office in late December after a recall election. Doherty and former Commissioner Melissa Lindsay were both recalled in late November following a contentious campaign season that included a local fire district hanging an anti-commissioner sign on an ambulance. With Lindsay already preparing to leave office after losing her re-election bid to Wenholz, no appointment was made to replace her as the board couldn’t operate without a quorum in the final days of 2022. With two years left on Doherty’s original term, Drago’s seat will be up for election again in 2024.


While Drago wasn’t a candidate for commissioner in 2022, he did play a role in the recall. He signed the petition to get the Lindsay recall election on the ballot. Drago isn’t the only one with recall connections. Before taking office, Wenholz signed the recall petitions for both Lindsay and Doherty.

While the new commissioner won’t be seated until Feb. 22, the county is already tying up other loose ends from 2022 by settling a lawsuit.

Recall petitioners cited the firing of former county administrator Darrell Green over the summer as one of the reasons they wanted to remove Doherty and Lindsay from office. For his part, Green sued the county for wrongful termination.

Green’s lawsuit requested more than $500,000 plus either reinstatement to his former position or another $250,000 in front pay. Green took a job with Blue Mountain Community College in December.

Near the end of January, Morrow County offered to settle the case with Green for $50,000 plus attorney fees. Green accepted the deal on Feb. 1. Both sides are due back in court on Feb. 21.

In the meantime, the county is still searching for someone to replace Green both temporarily and permanently.

The commission settled on promoting enterprise zone manager Greg Sweek to interim county administrator in early January, but he resigned after a week on the job, according to the East Oregonian.

The county received three applications for the interim position in late January. Commissioners also recently agreed to hire a Seattle-area recruitment firm to help them find candidates for the permanent position.