Oregon City can heal after successful mayoral recall
Back in June, a day after testifying at a City Commission meeting about my displeasure with our mayor's actions and behavior, I was asked to become campaign manager for the effort to recall Dan Holladay by my former eighth-grade English teacher, who I had recently reconnected with over the mayor's various controversies. She later introduced me to the person who had been spearheading the effort and would later become our campaign's legal counsel. I accepted, knowing that I would be supported by my community and the emerging recall team.
Our courageous chief petitioner later came aboard, along with our field director, deputy campaign manager and finance director. Together, we formed a grassroots team that would make history, along with so many volunteers, by collecting over a thousand more signatures than the amount needed to qualify for the ballot — amid a raging pandemic and wildfire evacuations the week of our deadline. The Clackamas County Elections office said that we were the "cleanest petition" they ever verified, with an astonishing 88% validity rate.
Having been involved with Clackamas County and Oregon GOP politics since early high school, I knew that coming out so publicly against a member of my own party would be risky. There was definitely backlash to my leading this campaign (Dan would eventually demand that I be fired from my job working for the Republican nominee for state treasurer, calling me "that Brown kid" or "the fake Republican"), but the support was so much greater, especially from those who actually live in Oregon City and therefore understood the nuances of the recall. We had the support of the mayor's four fellow commissioners, his four mayoral predecessors, five school board members, the school superintendent, several former county commissioners and thousands of Oregon City voters who would later sign the petition. Dan called us a mob, but it was clear that we were a movement.
Thanks to our grassroots donors, we were able to purchase all of the trappings of a professional campaign: 100 yard signs, 11,000 mailers, 4,000 door hangers and boosted social media posts. Being on this end of a campaign was totally new for me and I learned so much in the process. But most importantly, this experience gave me the opportunity to meet so many incredible residents who I otherwise wouldn't have had the honor of getting to know. I look forward to celebrating with them in person once it is safe to do so.
Leading the campaign to recall the mayor of my hometown was not how I wanted to spend my summer and first half of senior year at university, but it has all been worth it. Now that we have won this election with a landslide 68% of the vote and unprecedented voter turnout, I will now be able to dedicate the majority of my time preparing for final exams in the next few weeks. As for my team, they will now have more time for work, family and relaxation with this volunteer campaign behind us. The fact that they have given up so much time over the last few months to serve on the recall executive committee is truly admirable, and I am so grateful for the lasting friendships that have come from this campaign.
Together, we made history as the first (and hopefully last) mayoral recall in Oregon City, and Dan Holladay will go down as the first and only mayor recalled from Oregon's first city. Moving forward, it will be critical that the citizens remain engaged with local government as we look ahead to electing a mayor who represents our values next March. Until then, I'm hopeful that our community will now be able to heal after the mayor's divisive and destructive tenure. The work has only begun.
Adam Marl, a lifelong resident of Oregon City, is the campaign manager for the effort to recall Mayor Dan Holladay.
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