For the past five years, Randy Kugler, who was a city manager here 30 years ago, has persistently pushed his personal agenda on the Council and city administration because of what he calls “inept” public officials and a “complacent citizenry.” In 2018 and 2019, he pestered city staff to advance his budget and city hall proposals. Though unappointed and unelected, he pressured the Hoffman Center for the Arts Board to sell its property as part of an unauthorized city hall scheme. He issued imperious demands to the city manager if his requests were not answered quickly enough. Even now he continues a campaign of harassment of the current city manager. Mr. Kugler’s contempt for our entire community is best illustrated by his dismissal of “80-year-old EVC volunteers” as participants in a scheme to promote Manzanita as a “disaster destination.”
When he came in dead last in his 2020 bid for election to the Council, Mr. Kugler settled the next year on a new tactic—what he termed the “Simmons project.” As part of that project, Mr. Kugler joined forces with Bill Simmons, a similarly disgruntled resident. They chose Deb Simmons, Bill’s wife, as someone with the necessary “star power” to be the spokesperson for their positions on local issues. Mayor Mike Scott’s unexpected withdrawal from the 2022 mayoral race on June 2 presented the opportunity to put Deb forward as a candidate for mayor, which she announced three days after Scott withdrew.
After her uncontested election, Mr. Kugler began coaching Mayor Simmons for the role of mayor and dispensed advice to her and Councilors Brad Mayerle and Jerry Spegman as a self-appointed “trusted advisor.” He also prepped Mayor Simmons before Council meetings. Describing their campaign of disruption as a “war” in a March 9 email to Ms. Simmons, Mr. Kugler congratulated her on getting “Lelia [sic] to say some dumb things that I will further investigate.” He urged Mayor Simmons to be content with winning some “skirmishes” before moving on to “a battle here and there.” He encouraged her by saying, “You are getting better with each meeting. We’ll do some practice for next month.”
Did Manzanita voters elect Mr. Kugler as Mayor? Or did we elect Ms. Simmons? It appears from these public records that Mr. Kugler is pulling the strings behind the curtain. We do not object to the Mayor seeking advice from a trusted advisor, but Mr. Kugler has been an obsessive faultfinder for many years. He has consistently shown disdain for any opinions other than his own—on a new city hall, allocation of overhead costs, and short-term rentals.
We urge Mayor Simmons to sever her relationship with a man who has harassed our city managers and sought to tear this city apart rather than to bring people together as the Mayor has said she wants to do. We also urge the City Council to support the City’s employees and protect them from harassment.
Public records request link
This link provides access to 478 pages of records dating back to 2018 provided by the City of Manzanita in response to a public records request.
Sources for this document
Paragraph 2: February 13, 2018, Kugler email to Alamillo and Scott; August 26, 2019, Kugler email to Alamillo; August 2, 2021, Kugler email to Aman; February 16, 2023, Kugler email to Simmons, Spegman, and Mayerle; April 29, 2023, Tillamook County Pioneer op-ed
Paragraph 3: August 28, 2021, Spegman email to Kugler; November 11, 2021, Kugler email to Spegman; June 6, 2022, BBQ post
Paragraph 4: Kugler emails dated January 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 22, 23, 25, 2023; February 16, 19, 2023; March 6, 9, 14, 21, 2023; February 26 and March 9, 2023, Simmons emails to Kugler)