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After his petition was approved for circulation on Wednesday, Mark Matheson is collecting signatures for a ballot measure to recall Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay.

Dan HolladayMatheson, the vice chairman of the Barclay Hills Neighborhood Association, is upset at Holladay, because, among other reasons, the mayoral seat is not up for election this year. Matheson tried to file to run for mayor, but the city recorder encouraged him to run for one of the three open positions on City Commission. Matheson contends that Holladay gave up his mayoral term, which expires at the end of 2018, in an unsuccessful run for Clackamas County’s chair position during the May primary election.

“From what I read, the election literature defines the cut-off dates, but doesn't define a date when a campaign can start,” Matheson said. “It’s just assumed that it starts when the seat becomes opened, and I agree, unless they announce they would leave if elected to another position. Seems Mr. Holladay wants his cake and eat it too.”

As Matheson took his case to Oregon’s secretary of state, Holladay said that Matheson was wrong in his interpretation of the election law.

“I could have won the county chair’s position and remained mayor because the election rules say that you can only hold one paid position at once, and I’m the volunteer mayor,” Holladay said. “The secretary of state has no authority in terms of how we run our elections except for basic state laws. Home rule authority has precedence, as we’ve seen with numerous court cases lately.”

Holladay expected that Matheson will have trouble collecting the 1,828 valid signatures from Oregon City voters that would be required to place the measure on the ballot. That number of signatures is determined by state law: 15 percent of the Oregon City votes cast for governor in the last election. State law also specifies that Matheson will have until Oct. 3 (90 days from when the petition was filed) to turn the signatures in at City Hall.

“If he can get the signatures, I’m more than happy to justify everything I’ve accomplished in the past 18 months,” Holladay said. “It took a fairly large group of committed people to collect the number of signatures required to recall [City Commissioner] Jim Nicita [in December 2011] but he doesn’t look like he has that as kind of a lone wolf.”

In the recall petition’s official language, Matheson referred to former city manager David Frasher’s previous statement that Holladay didn’t follow staff advice in warning Holladay against committing an election violation in which the state fined Holladay $100. As this newspaper reported on March 16, Holladay contended that Frasher was lying about the warning; Holladay has apologized for his own “mistake” in asking city staff to print his argument against signing the urban-renewal petition the city’s official newsletter.

Matheson’s petition says, “Holladay has demonstrated a general lack of interest in his oversight responsibilities, a disregard to adhere to political ethic rules, doesn’t follow staff recommendations, and [has been] shown as having [an] inability to be [a] fair and unbiased public official.”

Holladay said that Matheson’s other complaints were founded on an incorrect premise. Holladay said that he was elected to have biases and opinions, but those biases don’t constitute “oversight” of the city but rather are tempered by the other elected officials on City Commission.

“I have to have at least two other city commissioners who agree with me in order to decide anything,” Holladay said. “I’m not sure why it’s just me who is the target of this recall. I guess if you’re the titular head of the city commission, you’ve got to take the good with the bad.”

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