Baker City Councilor James Clinton Thomas isn’t scheduled to appear in Baker County Circuit Court until July 16 on a charge of driving under the influence of intoxicants. But what we know of his arrest about 11:30 a.m. on June 19 suggests that he had a lapse in judgment serious enough to warrant his resigning from the position of trust to which city residents elected him in November 2014.

Baker City Police officer Shannon Regan arrested Thomas, 57, when Thomas stopped at the Police Department to congratulate the newly named Police Chief Dustin Newman.

Newman said Thomas’ blood-alcohol content was .21, more than twice Oregon’s legal limit of .08. Newman said Thomas was “apologetic and understood what was going on.”

Thomas told the Herald last week he encouraged residents to contact him by email through the city’s website, www.bakercity.com.

He said he would “do the right thing for the city.”

We don’t know what, if anything, Thomas has heard from citizens. But we believe the “right thing” in this case is for Thomas to step down before his term ends Dec. 31.

That he solicited comments from residents suggests to us that Thomas understands the severity of his mistake, and that he is willing to accept the consequences. We respect him for asking his constituents for their opinions about how he should proceed.

Driving while intoxicated is of course an immensely dangerous thing to do. And although it’s illegal at any time, doing so during the middle of the day, when traffic of all types is likely to be higher than at most other periods, is especially careless.

We appreciate Thomas’ service to the city over the past 3 years. He can help to preserve his legacy by making a gracious departure.

From the Baker City Herald editorial board. The board consists of editor Jayson Jacoby and reporter Chris Collins.

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