Damon Mabee wants to be Oregon City's next mayor
This article has been updated
Lifelong resident of Oregon City Damon Mabee, 54, has filed for election as mayor in November.
Although it's early in the election season, Mabee is so far running unopposed and has received endorsements from a former mayor in addition to several other active citizens.
If elected as mayor, "I would try to settle things through dialogue rather than lawsuits," Mabee said.
Mabee also believes that the mayoral position should be doing more to "ensure the public has a proper chance to exercise their right to speak." He believes the City Commission as a whole needs to do more to define "livability" if it's going to keep overturning Planning Commission decisions to deny applications for impacting livability, on the grounds that the justification for denial is insufficient.
A member of Oregon City's Planning Commission since 2011, Mabee served as a city commissioner between 2005 and '08. Mabee has been an active member of the McLoughlin Neighborhood Association since 2008, and through 2011 he held various MNA leadership positions ranging from secretary to chair.
"Upon being appointed to the Planning Commission I have had less involvement in the MNA in order to maintain my neutrality, but still participate when and where I can," Mabee said.
Mabee chaired the Citizens Involvement Council in 2009 and 2010, when he was asked by then-Mayor Alice Norris to help reactivate the committee that had been designed to increase communication between the City Commission and neighborhood leaders.
As a commissioner, Mabee supported property annexation requests into Oregon City to boost development and increase the city's tax revenue. He helped stabilize the city's budget by advocating that Oregon City annex into the Clackamas Fire District. Prior to selling three firehouses to Clackamas Fire, the city had to close down the South End Fire Station due to budget problems; now all the fire stations in Oregon City are fully staffed.
Under his tenure, the city adopted the Transportation Utility Fee, now called the Pavement Maintenance Utility Fee, starting out at $4.50 per month, and now up to $13 per month for residential addresses. Mabee was careful to include a provision in the new fee for residents receiving assistance from the state to receive a reduction in or waiver of the street fee.
As a planning commissioner, Mabee reluctantly voted in favor of a controversial plan to annex property in the Park Place Neighborhood because of the $3,500 per-home police fee that was proposed. The total area within the Park Place Concept Plan is approximately 480 acres, of which 180 acres were brought into the Urban Growth Boundary in the 1980s, with the remaining entering the urban-growth boundary in 2002. Mabee advocated that Oregon City adopt a flat rate for development fees that could be applied to the full annexation.
City commissioners did not pick Mabee from seven applicants to a vacant seat on City Commission in 2015. In applying for the position, Mabee said his goals for his service on City Commission included prioritizing some major urban-renewal projects.
Mabee now sees great catalysts for the city's growth and regional identity in the development of the Rossman Landfill site and Beavercreek Concept area. Some of his other priorities include repairing park infrastructure, a review/update of Oregon City's Comprehensive Plan and a revisit of the city's controversial "lot averaging" mechanism for allowing developers to use large parcels of undevelopable land to build denser developments on the rest of the parcel.
Mabee has been a substitute teacher in the Oregon City School District for 11 years, and has also been a part-time security guard with Allied Universal since 2014.
"I know what it is like to work multiple jobs in order to make ends meet," Mabee said.
Prior to working for OCSD, he represented a labor union after his honorable discharge as an officer in the U.S. Navy, serving in Desert Storm.
Mabee has received the endorsement of former Oregon City Mayor Doug Neeley, who had the opportunity of serving with Mabee on the Oregon City Commission as well as the budget committees for the city of Oregon City and the South Fork Water Board.
"He is one of the most detail-oriented people I have ever worked with," Neeley said. "He reviews all documents pertaining to voting decisions, and he listens to and considers all public input. I believe that he would be an excellent mayor for Oregon City."
Other endorsements of Mabee so far have come from MNA Vice Chair Denyse McGriff, former OC Urban Renewal Commission Chair Paul Edgar and OC Planning Commissioner Tom Geil.
Current Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay says that he will decide in the next couple of weeks whether he will run for re-election, at which point this newspaper will feature his viewpoints. Candidates may file for mayor, or for two other City Commission seats, by Aug. 28. More information about filing is available at orcity.org/cityrecorder/2018elections.
This article has been updated with a more accurate list of Mabee's endorsements.