After nearly four and a half years at his post, St. Paul Mayor Kim Wallis resigned last week, citing the long hours and personal reasons for stepping aside.
Wallis said he was routinely putting in 40 to 50 hours a week in his role as mayor and was "just getting tired," and had "other family matters to take care of too."
When asked if there were any other reasons behind his stepping down, Wallis declined to add anything more. "That's all I'm going to say at this point," he said.
Per the city's charter, City Council President Marty Waldo will take over as interim mayor. Wallis said Waldo will be appointed to the position at the coucil's May 8 meeting. From there, he said the council will have a vacancy, which they can either fill with a special appointment or refer to electors to fill.
"I haven't heard what they are planning on doing," Wallis said.
Wallis said he is proud of the things he accomplished in his years as mayor of the tiny northern Marion County town of less than 400 residents. He listed improving the city's water quality, finishing a Main Street sidewalk project and helping improve public safety as accomplishments during his terms in office.
"Significant improvements were made to water quality in the last six months, as well," he said. "Water quality has been an issue in St. Paul for a long time. I was able to work to improve traffic safety through town in response to residents' concerns and get ODOT and Marion County to reduce speeds, install transition speed zones, and convert the hazardous three-way intersection at Main and Church (streets) to an all-way stop."
Wallis sent a list of what he considered his accomplishments, as well as other things for the council to continue working on.
"The two things I'm most proud of was improving relations between the various community groups and the city, and especially working to negotiate a long term management contract between the city and the St. Paul Rodeo Association for management of the St. Paul Rodeo complex," he said. "The agreement is in its final stages of review by both sides. The agreement will allow the St. Paul Rodeo Association to continue to bring world class rodeo to St. Paul, and benefit the city by reducing our maintenance costs, sharing revenues from operation of the facility, providing revenue to St. Paul community organizations, and potentially connecting the rodeo association's well to the city water system to improve water quality and capacity."
Wallis was first elected in 2014 and again in 2018.
City's faced issues over the years
This is far from the only staffing issue St. Paul has faced in recent years. The city has routinely struggled to attract and retain mayors in the past. Steven Manners, who was mayor before Wallis, faced an ethics investigation after he helped remove an old, deteriorating shed from city property and put it on his own property. The investigation ultimately closed with no fines or penalties.
In 2017, City Councilor Joel Halter resigned from his position, also citing the long hours and wanting to spend more time with his family. Halter was one of three city councilors embroiled in a 2016 Government Ethics Commission investigation that examined whether he, along with councilors Rosemary Koch and Jenni Lefevre, violated Oregon's public meetings laws by illegally meeting in executive session.
The investigation stemmed from a November 2015 council meeting in which the three councilors interviewed a prospective city attorney while convened in executive session. Wallis submitted a complaint to the commission 12 days after the meeting, alleging that the councilors had "touched on questions of policy" during the executive session.
Governing bodies in Oregon are only allowed to convene in executive session under limited circumstances, including the consideration of employment of a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent.
Ultimately, the ethics commission could not come to a majority decision on whether the councilors violated state law. The case was dismissed as a result.
In summer 2017, the city also lost its only candidate for an interim city manager position, when the applicant, Gene Green, explained that the employment contract he received the evening before the scheduled meeting last week didn't match the agreement that he thought he came to with the council during his interview.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.