Johnson resigns from council
And then there was one.
The Newberg City Council has been reduced to a single remaining veteran after Patrick Johnson announced June 15 that he was stepping down.
He cited the usual personal reasons, primarily wanting to spend more time with his family and to concentrate on his job at the Oregon Lottery, as well as the political climate, social media and the time required to be a councilor in his decision to resign from his District 4 spot.
"When I first was appointed to the City Council, I was in a stable job and my family life was not nearly as complicated as it is now," he said in a prepared release. "Time was a luxury I had when I was appointed in 2016. Now it's more precious than ever. My two daughters are getting closer to leaving home and my parents and in-laws need more support as they get older. I have loved my time on council, but as I turned 50 last week, I realized that time is a resource that isn't renewable."
Johnson's resignation leaves Denise Bacon as the sole councilor with much experience and institutional memory; she was elected to the District 3 spot in December 2008. The remaining councilors – Elise Yarnell Hollamon (District 1), Stephanie Findley (District 6), Julia Martinez Plancarte (District 2) and District 5 representative Gene Piros, who has announced he will resign at the end of his term in December – each have less than two years experience piloting the city's primary governing body.
Johnson counted among the council's accomplishments during his term the completion of the first phase of the Newberg-Dundee bypass, advocating for the installation of bike lanes and sidewalks on stretches of Highway 219, passage of a transportation utility fee for road maintenance and being part of the process to hire a new city manager, Dan Weinheimer, in February.
That's not to say the council accomplished everything he wished for during his tenure.
"There are a number of key projects that I would have loved to have finished," he said. "Establishing an urban renewal district to redevelop the mill property and the completion of the bypass are two of my passions."
But, in the end, it came down to family: "The other day, when my daughters mentioned during the COVID stay-at-home orders that they liked spending time with me – that makes the decision to resign easy."
The political climate and regular criticism of the council on social media and in person made leaving the council a little easier too, Johnson said.
"My favorite president, Harry Truman, said 'If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.' I am taking his advice," he said. "Being a city councilor was a fun job and it was very rewarding to solve complex problems working with the public, staff and other councilors. However, I don't know if it's the national politics seeping into our local politics or I'm just burned out, but I feel like the vitriol in person and on social media has taken most of the enjoyment out of this largely volunteer position.
"I like working with people, not getting yelled at by people. The 'you are with me or you're against me' attitude gets ugly at the local political level. Especially when you are trying to find solutions that work for all in the community."
Johnson's departure from the Newberg council marks the end of a career of voluntary public service that spanned more than a decade at posts in Canby and for Clackamas County, as well as Newberg. He was first appointed to the Newberg council in April 2016 and was elected in November 2018.
His term was due to end in December 2022 and the council is expected to declare his position vacant at its July 6 meeting, at which time the city will begin taking applications for the position. District 4 is generally located in northwest Newberg north of Mountainview Drive. Applicants must live within District 4, have been a resident of the city for at least one year prior to applying and be a registered voter.
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