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Dara Kramer: 'As an educator and a parent, how can I teach the value of integrity, honesty, and cooperation to my students and child, when they could easily point out that the mayor of our city displays none of these characteristics?'

I've lived in Oregon City for 20 years, and as a parent and educator, I care deeply about our community and its future. When I learned that Mayor Dan Holladay had once been the subject of two restraining orders, and Clackamas County Circuit Judge Douglas Van Dyk concluded that Holladay had intentionally hit his wife, I knew I must learn more about how he became our mayor. After watching city commission meetings and reading his social media posts, I saw that he is verbally abusive toward both citizens and fellow city commissioners. One of his posts was a picture of a Black man drawn with monkey-like characteristics that he labeled "morning funnies," so it was no surprise to me when he was the only mayor (out of 26 in the metro area consortium) to refuse to sign a statement condemning racial injustice. As a public employee, I would lose my job for some of these actions, and the leader of our city should be held accountable for what he has done.

COURTESY PHOTO: BECCA RICH - Volunteers collect signatures for the recall of Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay.I do not believe recalls should happen over ideological differences. This is not about differing opinions; it's about human decency and ethics in leadership. I have students and friends who have experienced physical abuse, and the trauma impacts victims for a lifetime. What does it tell them when the leader of their city has a history of physical abuse? Survivors of domestic abuse should feel reassured by their mayor; instead, they feel distressed. A student once told me that she stopped reporting it when she's called the N-word because she does not believe it will ever stop while she's living in this city. What does it tell her when her mayor is the only mayor who won't sign a statement condemning racial injustice? Those who face racism in our community should feel heard and supported by their mayor; instead, they feel threatened.

Additional actions by Mayor Holladay over the past few months (including defying state orders, directing an audio-visual technician to cut the live feed of a public meeting to prevent the public from hearing a commission discussion, walking out of commission meetings, and soliciting funds for an illegal event behind the backs of other commissioners) have led to formal misconduct investigations, a 4-0 vote by his fellow commissioners to censure him, and a 4-0 vote of no confidence in him by his fellow commissioners. Pleas for him to resign are pouring in from our past three mayors, our current commissioners, our OCSD School Board members, our OCSD superintendent (as a private citizen) and residents of all political affiliations. In addition, both the Oregon City Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Oregon City Association spoke out against his actions at the July 1 commission meeting. As an educator and a parent, how can I teach the value of integrity, honesty, and cooperation to my students and child, when they could easily point out that the mayor of our city displays none of these characteristics?

My family loves our town, and I believe the people of Oregon City care about it enough to stand up and say that ethical leadership and human decency matter to them. If you are still unsure about signing the petition, I encourage you to reach out to any of the elected officials who have openly called for his resignation to hear why they believe he should resign.

I signed this petition and joined the volunteer effort to support it because I am not willing to accept a mayor who has a history of domestic abuse, refuses to address or even acknowledge racism, and verbally attacks fellow commissioners and citizens. I am not willing to accept a mayor whose misconduct and under-the-table deals lead to lawsuits against the city and formal investigations into his actions. Holladay's abuses are a stain on our community, a stain that can only be removed by the people of Oregon City. If you care deeply about our city and its future, as I do, I encourage you to sign and support the petition to recall Dan Holladay at recalldanholladay.com.

Dara Kramer is an Oregon City resident and teacher at Gardiner Middle School.


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