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Hayden mayor abruptly resigns, cites city council members as 'straw that broke the camel's back'

Steve Griffitts, who was elected to a second term in 2020, is resigning effective next Tuesday.

HAYDEN, Idaho — Hayden Mayor Steve Griffitts announced he is stepping down next week, as reported by our news partners, the Couer d'Alene Press.

Griffitts, who was elected to a second term in 2020, is resigning effective next Tuesday.

In an interview with KREM 2 on Wednesday, Griffitts said, "I had no plans to resign," before the meeting. 

The mayor was particularly frustrated Tuesday night when he said new council members Ed DePriest and Sandra White are exposing the city to unnecessary lawsuits by refusing to accept legal advice.

Griffitts told KREM 2, "That puts the city in such a precarious legal position and I can't fix that. I can't lead us through that. They'd made decisions that I had never seen prior to last night." 

During Tuesday night's Hayden city council meeting, Hayden city officials recommended the two recuse themselves from voting on an agenda item to avoid a perceived conflict of interest. DePriest and White previously shared their comments during planning and zoning when they were citizens and their public comments were part of the planning and zoning packet being discussed during the council meeting. 

DePriest and White were elected last November, defeating longtime council members Dick Panabaker and Jeri DeLange. White and DePriest began their four-year terms last month.

Here's what Griffitts wrote late last night. The Press will have the complete story in Thursday's Press.

Dear Citizens of Hayden:

Effective March 1, 2022, I will resign as Mayor of our wonderful city. Over the past 6 years, we have worked our way through lawsuits, pandemics, and many long hours of service. Each day, I have tried to represent you with integrity, respect and admiration.

During tonight’s City Council meeting, two of our elected leaders went against specific legal advice. They were told repeatedly that they were exposing the city to risks that would be indefensible in court… yet they didn’t seem to care. As your Mayor, this was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back”. You elected me to lead this city. I can not do so if this Council doesn’t live up to the oath of office, that they swore to uphold.

Please know that we have exceptional leaders and staff who work for the City of Hayden. They are magnificent. I hope that our City Council can learn to trust them and to respect them.

It has been an honor to serve you.

Steven J. Griffitts

KREM 2 reached out to both Councilman DePriest and Councilwoman White. 

According to Councilman DePriest, he decided to not recuse his vote because he said the agenda item was under reconsideration.

"I said 'No I want to participate tonight in this reconsideration' and they said 'Ok' and they made sure they got it on the record that they were going against counsel's recommendation," said DePriest.

Mayor Griffitts's last day is Mar. 1. 

According to Hayden city officials, the city is working with their legal counsel to figure out the next steps. 

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our partners, click here.

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