Oregon City's Rachel Lyles Smith defends appointments
In her last act as the Oregon City Commission's president on Jan. 6, mayoral candidate Rachel Lyles Smith rejected the idea of "tainted applicants" while approving a list of advisory-board appointments that included five of the eight individuals favored by the recently recalled mayor.
Oregon City commissioners had to schedule a special meeting last month to deny Dan Holladay's attempt to appoint eight people to city advisory boards on Nov. 30, the same day his mayoral recall election results were certified and he was officially removed from office.
Lyles Smith defended her choice to appoint five individuals favored by the recalled mayor, saying she saw them as the most qualifed of the available applicants or they fulfilled other attributes necessary for the positions.
"I do not believe that a person is unfit for a position on a board or a committee if the sole reason for that determination is that Mayor Holladay liked them, put their name on a list or thought that they would do a good job serving our city," Lyles Smith said.
"It's just not a fair way to treat people; evaluate people based on their temperament, qualifications, their ability to serve the community, whether they represent a group in the city that is unrepresented … the list could go on and on."
Lyles Smith's appointments included former City Commissioner Daphne Wuest and her husband, Tim Wuest, to the Planning Commission and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee respectively, which were two appointments favored by Holladay.
Lyles Smith did not follow Holladay's directive to appoint two applicants who had not even submitted applications; neither Holladay's girlfriend nor a former commission candidate were appointed.
Lyles Smith said she was "really happy" with the list of applicants who applied and encouraged those who were not selected to continue to apply. She also encouraged those who never applied because they believed Holladay would be biased against their application to apply now for city boards and committees.
"Before deciding any committee appointments, I reviewed the applications submitted, listened to committee interviews, consulted with city staff, reviewed comments and input from my fellow city commissioners, spoke individually with some committee chairs and spoke individually with some applicants," she said.
"I evaluated the applicant's temperament and experience, along with committee diversity. My goal is to have committees that are geographically diverse, gender diverse and experience diverse."
City commissioners on Dec. 8 affirmed a resolution declaring that Holladay had no authority to take any official actions on the day the recall election results were certified. Many of Holladay's proposed appointments sought to fill seats on various boards and commissions that were not vacant and whose terms do not end until more than a month after the mayor's recall took effect.
On Jan. 6, Commissioners Denyse McGriff and Frank O'Donnell made clear that their votes for Commissioner Rocky Smith to take over as commission president had nothing to do with Lyles Smith's ability to perform the role over the past year.
Oregon City commissioners have traditionally rotated the role of commission president annually to the commission's most senior member who has not yet served in the position.
"Commissioner Rachel Lyles Smith has done a commendable job, and I also think there's no reason not to follow our historical precedent," O'Donnell said.
Lyles Smith said she was advised by the city's attorney to make the appointments at the beginning of the year as the commission president at the time.
City charter specifies that the commission president shall perform mayoral duties in the mayor's absence, so in November, Lyles Smith took over the process for appointing that began in September with multiple calls for applicants to the 17 vacancies.
Starting with her campaign for public office in 2018, Lyles Smith has said multiple times that she favors changing the city charter to allow for commission-wide votes on advisory board appointments. With potential charter changes still on the horizon, Lyles Smith said she instead took input from commissioners and other citizens on which appointments she should make.
"Our oath of office says we should follow the charter," Lyles Smith said. "I remain open to the discussion about these potential charter changes, but the charter remains our governing document."
Rachel Lyles Smith announced the following appointments for Oregon City advisory committees:
Natural Resources Committee
• Nancy Broshot (reappoint): term Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2023
• Brian Kvisler: Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2023
• Samantha Wolf: Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2023
• Carrie Young: Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2021
Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee
• Troy Bolinger (reappoint): Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2023
• Karin Morey (reappoint): Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2023
• Tim Wuest: Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2023
Transportation Advisory Committee
• Ben Simmons (reappoint/at-large): Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2023
• Tim Morgan (at-large): Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2023
• Lisa Novak: Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2024
• Daphne Wuest: Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2024
Historic Review Board
• Carrie Crook (McLoughlin neighborhood position): Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2023
• Paul Edgar (at-large position) Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2023
• Sabrina Ferry (architect position): Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2022
• Ray Stobie (reappoint chamber position): Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2023
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.