UNION GAP — Union Gap Mayor Jim Lemon is no longer welcome in City Hall.
City officials said Friday that Lemon was notified by police that he is not to enter most city office buildings or he would be considered trespassing. The notice stems from an incident Thursday between Lemon and an employee. Union Gap police are now investigating that incident, city attorney Bob Noe said.
“Things at City Hall have been kind of disruptive since the election,” Noe said. “It’s just to make things more stable.”
No one in city government would comment on the specifics of the incident except that, even though it did not happen on city property, it worried officials.
“It was enough to cause us to do a trespass notice,” Noe said.
City officials, including council members and city administrator Chris Jensen, met to discuss the incident in question late Thursday and decided to issue the notice Friday morning. Lemon would be subject to arrest and criminal charges should he violate the notice, Jensen said.
“I thought it was in the city’s best interests to protect all parties,” Jensen said. “The mayor, employees, everybody.”
Voters did away with the mayor’s office when they approved Proposition 1 in the general election, changing the city from a strong-mayor to a council-manager form of government. The vote followed a rough year for Lemon, who was criticized for not acting earlier to address toxic black mold concerns in city facilities and faces multiple lawsuits from former employees who say he was abusive and forced them out unfairly.
Lemon will become a temporary City Council member once election results are certified Nov. 27. Noe said Lemon is still allowed to attend City Council meetings, which have been held at the Ahtanum Youth Park since the City Hall building closed due to black mold infestation earlier this year.
Calls to Lemon were not returned Friday afternoon.
Council members were as mum as other city officials on the incident. Councilmen David Butler and Chad Lentz declined comment, Councilman Roger Wentz would only say the circumstances are unfortunate.
Wentz, who serves as mayor pro-tem on the council, said he delivered the notice to Lemon personally.
“It was a very difficult thing for me personally,” Wentz said. “Jim is a friend, but the process was necessary given the information that we had and based on legal advice.”
Tensions around the office have been high in Union Gap city government following the election, Jensen said, but he wouldn’t offer specifics.
“It’s unfortunate we have these events,” he said. “We have to deal with them swiftly.”
Noe, who has been working in municipal law since 1995, said it was the first time in his personal experience he had seen a sitting mayor served a no-trespass notice.