Oregon City receives 9 applicants for vacant commission seat
Editor's note: This story has been updated from its original version online. In an application for appointment, Philip Abraham listed himself as the owner of Trajectory, a talent agenting firm for actors and writers based in Beverly Hills. He says in that capacity he provides daily negotiation for "A-list clients" with directors, including salary and profit negotiations. These claims have been removed from the article because Trajectory is not a registered business or LLC in California or Oregon.
Nine people have applied for Oregon City Commission Position No. 2, which was vacated by Nancy Ide on Jan. 18.
The remaining four city commissioners are scheduled to interview the applicants next week. On March 6 or 20, the commissioners plan to appoint one of the nine citizens to serve out the remainder of Ide's term through January 2021.
If the appointee wishes to serve past the first commission meeting in January 2021, he or she will have to run for and win an election in November 2020.
Here are profiles of the nine hopefuls, based on what they wrote in applications for appointment:
Philip Abraham is a three-year resident of Oregon City best known locally for suing the city.
According to Abraham's lawsuit, a development approved in October 2017 by the City Commission in Wesley Lynn Park included non-recreation structures that required a citywide vote. Citizens had twice rejected similar proposals. The lawsuit was dismissed by Clackamas County Circuit Judge Douglas V. VanDyk last year.
Abraham has not yet volunteered for Oregon City.
"It is time to give something back to my city," Abraham wrote. "I am a born and raised Oregonian, and Oregon City holds a special place in my heart. I intend to bring to this city and the Commission my extensive experience cultivating relationships with prominent politicians and business leaders from my years in Los Angeles."
Paul Edgar's community involvement includes volunteer service as a member of the Canemah Neighborhood Association, the Oregon City Urban Renewal Commission, the Clackamas County Transportation Committee, the Oregon City Citizen Involvement Council and various budget committees and PTAs. He now volunteers as a board member for Fort Kennedy, a nonprofit seeking to end homelessness among veterans in Clackamas County.
"This is about caring about the future of Oregon City and how it develops responsibly," Edgar wrote. "I am about citizen involvement and justified development practices."
Edgar could be called a perennial candidate, having run unsuccessfully for a position in the Alaska State House prior to moving to Oregon City 17 years ago. Doug Neeley defeated Edgar in the 2010 Oregon City mayoral race. Edgar was defeated again in 2015 when he ran for the Oregon City School Board against Nicole White.
Now a property manager in Portland, Edgar is retired from working at National Cash Register Corp., in product development and program management.
Tom Geil has been a member of the Planning Commission for six years and has been involved with the Park Place Neighborhood Association for the 15 years that he has lived in the city. Geil has served the neighborhood association as chair, vice-chair, secretary, treasurer and steering-committee member. He represented the neighborhood on Oregon City's Citizens Involvement Council, where he served as chair for three years.
"I would like to continue and expand my volunteer efforts on the part of our citizens," Geil wrote. "This seems like a logical step in my public involvement, to complete two years as a city commissioner, providing leadership, sound judgment and innovative thinking."
Geil owns the Ghoul Gallery, a Halloween-themed gift store on Main Street. Previously he has worked as a special events coordinator for the city of West Linn and as a project manager for various merger ventures between large corporations (Fred Meyer/Smith's/QFC/Ralphs) becoming part of Kroger.
A 30-year resident of Oregon City, Denyse McGriff served for eight years on the Planning Commission, which provided direction for the Willamette Falls Legacy Project. Her other local volunteer activities have included chairing the McLoughlin Neighborhood Association, along with being a member of the Library Building Committee and a community advisory group providing input on the McLoughlin-Canemah Trail. She has been on the elevator and tourism committees for the Downtown Oregon City Association.
Retired in 2013, McGriff spent the final 17 years of her career as a senior project manager for the Portland Development Commission. Prior to that she had worked as a planner for the city of Oregon City, Deschutes County, the Port of Portland and the city of Tillamook.
"I'm excited to use my unique skill-set to serve the people of Oregon City," McGriff wrote. "I care deeply about this community, and I would be elated at the opportunity to give back to the town that's given so much to me."
Mike Mitchell has served on the Oregon City Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, the Urban Renewal Commission, Planning Commission, Alternative Mobility Standards Citizen Advisory Group and Transportation Advisory Committee. An 11-year resident, Mitchell has served on the boards for the Downtown Oregon City Association and Oregon City Parks Foundation.
Mitchell has been the Caufield Neighborhood Association's representative to the Citizen Involvement Committee. On March 1, he will be retiring from Dolan Designs, where he's the general manager. In the 2018 election, he lost a race for an open City Commission seat against Rachel Lyles Smith.
"I believe that Oregon City has tremendous opportunities (and threats) on the horizon, with several major projects in development," Mitchell wrote. "I believe I have the experience, knowledge, temperament, reputation and commitment necessary to be a productive city commissioner, helping to bring these projects to fruition and guiding our city into the future."
Lisa Novak is a member of the Oregon City Parks and Recreation Committee. A four-year resident of the city, she is a steering-committee member and secretary for the Park Place Neighborhood Association, as well as a board member and secretary for the Oregon City Parks Foundation.
Novak is the office manager for Chosen Wood Window Maintenance, an Oregon City-based company.
"My decades of experience in business, project, construction management, and now in historical renovation, have provided me with skills and insights that I believe would be useful to the Commission in serving the public, and in dealing with our neighboring municipalities," Novak wrote.
Novak said that citizen involvement will be "crucial" in working to heal the "deep divisions" in the Oregon City community.
"I conduct myself with integrity and commitment," she wrote. "I intend to be true to those values in all that I do for the city."
Jay Pearce moved to Oregon City seven years ago, when he took a job in clinical information systems for Providence Health & Services, 1500 Division St. Pearce has worked in the medical device and software industry in various marketing and product development positions for over 40 years beginning 1966.
Pearce currently serves on the Homeless Solutions Coalition of Clackamas County Executive Committee.
"The current direction for Oregon City growth and development is positive and needs to continue," Pearce wrote. "From implementation of the Legacy Project to land use to dealing with homelessness there will be significant change in the coming few years and as a conscientious citizen I want to ensure maximum benefit in the quality of life in Oregon City for all its citizens."
Pearce was the founder/CEO of Pearce Medical, Inc., which worked with clients Flo Healthcare and Mindray Medical to identify product challenges, sales campaign themes and timelines.
Chelsae Thompson has been the executive director for the past six years for M Seed Thrift Store & Outreach. The nonprofit on Mollala Avenue in Oregon City provides assistance and finances to people who struggle with alcohol and drug addictions.
County commissioners gave M Seed a 2018 Community Impact Award. The Downtown Oregon City Association and Oregon City Chamber of Commerce recently gave M Seed two Best of Oregon City awards in the resale and nonprofit categories.
"After serving the community for six years through M Seed Outreach, I would like to reach and help even more people," Thompson wrote. "I have dedicated my life to helping others and nothing would bring me more joy to be a part of helping the community prosper."
Having completed a 500-hour yoga teacher training program, Thompson teaches yoga five days a week at Thrive Yoga and Wellness in Oregon City. The 15-year Oregon City resident's quarterly yoga workshops benefit M Seed.
A resident of Oregon City for 17 years, Steve VanHaverbeke is a member of Oregon City's Urban Renewal Commission and Citizen Involvement Committee. He has been involved in the Park Place Neighborhood Association since 2005 as its chair, vice-chair and land-use chair. Previously, he served on the management team for the Friends of Oregon City Library Bookstore, and as a web developer and database administrator for the Oregon City Library Foundation.
"As a city on the southeast edge of the metro growth area, OC will continue to be pressured to expand," VanHaverbeke wrote. "I believe that I can help this growth as a member of the City Commission, making sure current and future residents do not incur a reduced quality of life."
VanHaverbeke worked as an analyst for Detroit Edison and the SAIF Corporation between 1978 until his retirement in 2014. In that capacity, he provided support for computer applications for these companies.