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Debate video online: All three candidates for city's top position experience setbacks

It's been a tough past month for Oregon City's three mayoral candidates.

WILLAMETTE FALLS MEDIA CENTER - From left, Mark J. Matheson, Damon Mabee and Dan Holladay participate in the debate hosted by Raymond Rendleman.Mayor Dan Holladay, who is seeking re-election on the November ballot, apologized over a public outburst in which he swore after refusing to sign the rules of a Sept. 6 debate moderated by the League of Women's Voters (LWV).

Meanwhile, mayoral candidates Damon Mabee and Mark J. Matheson failed to get in their Voters' Pamphlet statements by the deadline, missing an opportunity to get their messages mailed to Oregon City's more than 23,000 registered voters for a $100 fee.

"I simply wrote the date down wrong on my calendar," Mabee said.

Matheson said that he intentionally didn't submit a Voters' Pamphlet statement, saying that the $100 was better spent on other campaign items like lawn signs. Matheson didn't show up to the LWV-moderated debate due to his "need to sleep." His apology stated that he "ran out of gas" after working on his roof and starting business meetings prior to 3 a.m.

All three mayoral candidates participated in a Pamplin Media-moderated debate Sept. 20 at the Willamette Falls Media Center, which will be broadcast on cable access TV and posted here:



The debate featured a shouting match between Holladay and Matheson that continued in the lobby of WFMC.

During the debate, Holladay revealed that Matheson's company, which signed a 2013 agreement with BMW and was reportedly doing business in South Australia, has been legally dissolved in July 2017 according to the Secretary of State. Matheson announced on Sept. 28 that the business fees have now been paid for his Advantage Group, LLC.

In a scene not on tape but witnessed by the Metro Council candidates and the editor of the Oregon City News as they were heading into the studio for the next debate, Holladay wished Matheson luck in building a proposed disaster-readiness complex in Oregon City "in a 100 years." Matheson responded, "Holladay, you have shot yourself in the foot so many times, I wonder if you have any toes left." Holladay told Matheson to "have a good life" as Matheson left the lobby.

Holladay then told the Metro candidates that they would probably enjoy watching the debate on tape with some popcorn and a couple of glasses of wine. He said that he wasn't concerned about Matheson's comments because there are always a few people in Oregon City who disagree with what the city is doing.

A couple of weeks before, Holladay was the only candidate at the Sept. 6 LWV-moderated McLoughlin Neighborhood Association debate who refused to sign the "ground rules" and got into a confrontation with MNA Chair Cameron McCredie that delayed the proceedings until Holladay eventually signed. Mabee then witnessed Holladay berate audience members for shaking their heads or rolling their eyes while he was speaking.

"As for the mayor's behavior, I believe all three incidents were very unprofessional, particularly for someone who lauds his 25 years of political experience," said Mabee, who lives in the neighborhood.

"The circumstances surrounding my anger are of no importance," Holladay wrote in a public apology. "I WAS WRONG. We should expect exemplary behavior from our elected officials and I failed that test last night, and for that I offer my sincere apology."

Disagreeing that the circumstances surrounding the mayor's anger were of no importance, McCredie was not satisfied with Holladay's apology for using a curse word at the MNA meeting.

During the time McCredie was explaining to the audience that the reason for delaying the start of the forum was due to a candidate refusing to sign the revised ground rules and refusing to step down from the candidates' table, Holladay reportedly mouthed the curse behind his back and got caught and called out by the MNA secretary.

"For him to have told me he's the mayor, as if he's entitled to participate in the forum while refusing to agree to the rules, is just one more demonstration of his arrogance," McCredie said.

Using his official city email address, Holladay had called out McCredie for a "bold-faced lie" for saying the draft ground rules were adopted from the county LWV. Holladay misspelled McCredie's name in the email copied to "all viable candidates," which excluded Matheson, to "encourage all candidates to not attend" the debate.

McCredie told Holladay that he stands corrected for mistakenly writing "county" when the ground rules were, in fact, based on national LWV guidelines, but he wondered whether Holladay ever apologized for accusing him of telling a brazen lie.

Asked for comment about the concerns of MNA members, Holladay said he didn't want to get into a tit-for-tat on the circumstances of his swearing. He preferred to let the public apology and public record stand for themselves.

In the email to McCredie and copied to other candidates, Holladay wrote that he had spoken with the moderator from the county LWV chapter to determine she had not provided the ground rules.

"Given the clear bias by the leadership of the MNA and your untruthful statement and to avoid any future damage to the reputation of the MNA you should cancel the event tonight," Holladay wrote.

McCredie said that making everyone play on a level playing field is certainly no bias against Holladay. McCredie said that the last time anyone publicly called him a liar was in 1983, while he was on the student-housing management board at Portland State University.

Holladay has publicly accused someone of lying before: When former City Manager David Frasher said that he had told Holladay not to publish a statement in the city's official newsletter discouraging residents from signing an anti-urban-renewal petition. Holladay ended up paying a $100 fine for the violation of state election rules with a $13.50 late fee out of his "Friends of Daniel Holladay" campaign financing account in 2015. Frasher ended up getting hired in 2016 as city manager for Hot Springs, Arkansas. But as reported by the Associated Press, he resigned that position earlier this year after a scandal involving another of Frasher's statements that was interpreted as an inappropriate racial remark.

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