Piros won't seek full term on Newberg council
Call it a merry-go-round or a game of musical chairs, but the changes in the complexion of the Newberg City Council will continue unabated this fall after it was announced that one of their own would not attempt a return for another term.
Gene Piros, who filled the District 5 seat in November 2019 when Mike Corey resigned after seven years on the council, announced last week that he will not seek a full term in the November general election.
"I was excited by the new opportunity and have really enjoyed learning more about city politics and helping Newberg move forward," Piros said in an email. "I love this community and I am proud to serve it for the remainder of this term."
However, he added that recent events have served to change his perspective.
"The pandemic has helped me to revisit my priorities," he said. "When my term ends, I am choosing to focus more on the health and well-being of my family."
The city's myriad internal troubles, from federal discrimination lawsuits to complaints to state agencies of harassment, didn't factor into his decision, Piros said.
"No, not at all," he said. "Many work and social environments have complicated dynamics. The challenges at city hall are opportunities for real change. I have a lifetime of experience dealing with situations like this one. I look forward to using the rest of my term to work with the team to improve the governance of Newberg together."
By the time he leaves the council in December, Piros will have only been aboard for a little more than a year. Still, he said, he learned a great deal during that time.
"Even though there are similarities between government and nongovernment jobs, I have learned so much about the formality and rules of the council as it operates," he said. "The work of the City Council is not always glamorous, but it is important work with real consequences, and it is our job to make sure that people from all parts of the community are being heard. It is also our job to connect them with the right city department.
"Learning the specifics was new, but my customer service background is what I bring to the table. There has been a lot of success in the first half of my term, and I know there will be more results ahead."
Despite his impending departure, Piros encouraged people to participate in local government and make a difference.
"The challenges of government are always there, and I highly recommend people look closely at the important work the City Council does," he said. "Newberg always benefits from new ideas, collaboration with others and people who are eager to serve their community."
Piros, 67, said he will continue with his other volunteer efforts in the city and take the time to enjoy his retirement as well as continue to support wife Rebecca's longtime service as a member of the Newberg School District board of directors.
Prior to joining the council, the St. Louis, Missouri, native's past government experience was limited to supporting his wife as a school board member and his daughter's involvement on the Newberg Planning Commission.
Piros said it's important for anyone contemplating running for council to approach the task with a clear understanding of city government.
"There are a lot of misconceptions about what City Council is," he said. "I would encourage future council members to make it clear to themselves and to their constituents what City Council is and what it is not.
"We have to follow our mandate and the laws and work within the bounds of what is possible. Bring your skills, unique experience and outlook. Be ready to listen and collaborate with others as a team."
Misperceptions about the council are compounded by a lack of attendance at twice-monthly meetings, meaning people are unaware of how the council works and what its responsibilities are. Still, Piros said, he hasn't been discouraged by the failure of the citizenry to get involved.
"No, I have seen this in my many years as a customer service manager and was not surprised," he said. "We need to continue to educate the public about who does what at City Hall. This is my top priority to work with the council and city manager to encourage a more customer-friendly approach to our citizens."
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