KETCHIKAN — There are calls for a new member of the Ketchikan City Council to step down after other members learned he was fired and had his teaching certificate revoked in Washington state after a sexual misconduct investigation.
Russell Wodehouse, who was appointed to the council earlier this month, was the theater manager and drama coach at Kennewick High School in Kennewick, Wash., from 1996-2004, The Ketchikan Daily News reported. The Washington state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction revoked Wodehouse’s education certificate after citing a “findings of fact” that included allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior with a female student at the school.
Among council members calling for Wodehouse to resign are K.J. Harris and Judy Zenge.
Harris said his first reaction was “innocent ‘til proven guilty” but that he later came to realize that “somewhere, someone didn’t make good decisions.”
Harris said he was skeptical of Wodehouse’s statement on Dec. 11, where Wodehouse denied knowledge of the allegations against him.
“It’s a little hard for me to believe you don’t know anything about it,” Harris said. “Dude, you’ve got to know something.”
“As a Councilman I’m having a real hard time being on the Council with someone like that,” Harris said. “Especially after the Jack Shay debacle.”
Shay, a former mayor and city council member, was convicted of possession of child pornography in 2012.
“I have already called (Wodehouse) and told him I feel he needs to resign,” Zenge said Monday.
There’s no process in place to remove a city council member unless they have violated Alaska state law or had too many absences.
When asked for comment, Wodehouse referred a reporter to his lawyer without providing his attorney’s name.
Mayor Lew Williams III said Wodehouse should step down to take care of his personal problems and then run for a seat later, if he wishes.
“I’m not trying to throw him under the bus,” Williams said. “It is an issue. It needs to be addressed. He needs to take care of it right away.
“Right now this is just distracting to the council and what we’re trying to do,” he said.
Wodehouse does have the support of council member Marty West.
“Russell is a friend of mine and because I’m his friend and we’ve talked about this issue, I think there’s more to it that will come out that people should know before they make their mind up,” West said.
She said while the allegations were serious, this was a personal matter for Wodehouse to resolve.
“There’s more information than just this one document,” West said.