Two former mayors are lending their support to the effort to recall Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay as the group filed an official petition on Monday, June 22.
Recall Holladay campaign spokeswoman Chanda Hall said a diverse group of people was coming together because of the issue like never before in the city. She said the group hoped to collect many more than the necessary 2,400 valid signatures in the next 90 days to put a recall initiative on a local ballot.
"I'm seeing an unprecedented coalition from all over the political spectrum coming together in Oregon City for this recall," Hall said. "This is only the beginning, and we're only going to keep growing."
A local developer accused Holladay in a June 12 tort claim letter to the city of demanding money in exchange for help with a project approval. Holladay has declined to comment on the allegations. During the June 17 City Commission meeting, Commissioner Rocky Smith told the mayor "please resign," but also predicted that Holladay would never resign until forced out by voters.
Former Oregon City mayors Doug Neeley and Alice Norris, who had endorsed Holladay in his initial election in 2014, signaled their support for the recall with a letter to city commissioners. They wrote that Holladay's actions were contrary to expectations that a mayor create an atmosphere where goals and policies can be formulated through respectful dialogue among commission members with input from the public and city staff.
"When the mayor is out of step with the community, demonstrates rude, degrading and possibly illegal behavior, it is indeed troubling," Neeley and Norris wrote. "Our community deserves better, especially knowing that he has three years left in his term of office. We support your resolution of censure and the citizens' call for his removal from office."
All four of Oregon City's commissioners have expressed dismay at Holladay's recent actions and have held several special emergency meetings in response. On April 26, commissioners voted to uphold the governor's orders to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus after the mayor's defiance of COVID-19 orders led to a threatening letter from Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
Holladay joined the unanimous City Commission vote that Oregon City would continue to follow COVID-19 orders, but then began asking businesses to fund his now-canceled July 4 fireworks show, at least once with a member of city staff present at the meeting with a business owner. Commission President Rachel Lyles Smith said she had a "real concern" about Holladay as an elected official soliciting funds on behalf of the city.
Holladay's subsequent inflammatory comments about police killings and systemic racism led Oregon City's elected officials to pass a resolution in response to the killing of George Floyd. Although he participated in the June 9 meeting and joined the unanimous vote to support the resolution against racism, he did not make any additional comment, unlike the other commission members who spoke at length pledging to fight for a public environment that is respectful and free of hate.
Holladay also declined to sign a June 4 statement from the Mayors' Metropolitan Consortium consisting of 26 regional mayors standing in solidarity with residents mourning Floyd's murder.
Holladay's alleged request for campaign funding is part of an impending lawsuit over a stalled construction project. He also directed a city-contracted employee to end the meeting recording directly after he adjourned a June 3 meeting, which prevented other commissioners from responding to his comments about racism on tape.
Recall campaign manager Adam Marl said Oregon City citizens were standing up for ethical and moral leadership amid a pandemic, its economic repercussions, and the nation's reckoning over race relations. "The mayor's dismissive responses to current events have put the spotlight on his past actions in office that have not received the scrutiny they deserve," Marl said. "When the citizens voiced their concerns, he deliberately limited constructive dialogue between his colleagues and constituents. Since then, issues of corrupt business dealings and multi-million-dollar lawsuits have come to light, which prompted his fellow commissioners to censure him on two counts and order an independent investigation."
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