Former Oregon City Mayor John Williams has become the third top former city leader to support the recall of Mayor Dan Holladay, currently under investigation for potential ethical and criminal violations.
Saying the current mayor "shows disdain for his community," Williams accused Holladay of ignoring the law whenever it gets in his way. His support of the recall follows two other former mayors, all four current city commissioners, business leaders and various Oregon City School District leaders joining the grassroots effort.
Williams noted that the recall elections shouldn't be used to get rid of an elected official just because they're obnoxious, or because they make imperfect decisions. Williams acknowledged that no elected official makes perfect decisions all the time.
"But recall is appropriate for a mayor who wantonly ignores the citizens," Williams wrote. "Recall is appropriate for a mayor fined by the state for breaking election law. Recall is appropriate for a mayor who stomps out of public meetings in contempt of others' opinions."
Williams wrote the speech for a July 8 recall campaign event at Willamette Falls Media Center, but was forbidden by his doctor to attend, despite the social distancing guidelines in place for the outdoor rally. His speech, along with statements from former mayors Alice Norris and Doug Neeley, was read at the event.
Williams noted that Holladay has formally and officially lost the confidence of all four city commissioners, according to their unanimous July 1 vote. That vote followed their unanimous decision at the June 17 commission meeting to investigate and officially censure Holladay, saying:
1. Holladay's "actions as described by our city attorney have injured the good name of Oregon City, have disturbed its well being and hampered its worth."
2. Holladay "refused to recognize members entitled to the floor," and Holladay has admitted to telling a technician to end video recording of a meeting, which prevented other commissioners from responding to his comments about Black Lives Matter on tape.
City commissioners have directed city staff to investigate the mayor's continued defiance of the governor's orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Holladay has admitted that he tried to raise money for a Oregon City public celebration that would have been in violation of the ban on large public gatherings, after he had agreed in an emergency meeting to uphold the governor's orders.
In a publicly released letter on July 2, Oregon City officials explained that Holladay's detrimental actions "negatively impacted the city and have led to a loss of faith in his abilities to effectively lead the community."
Commissioners expressed ongoing concerns about the leadership and direction of the mayor following "his actions to pursue his own interests above those of the commission and the safety and welfare of the community."
Williams, 92, was elected mayor of Oregon City from 1999-2002. Since then, he has led successful direct democracy initiatives. He currently is co-authoring a book about the life of William Simon U'Ren, the father of Oregon's system of direct democracy.
"Recall is appropriate for a mayor who ignores the law whenever it gets in his way," Williams added. "Recall is appropriate for a mayor who shows disdain for his community."
Holladay tried to vote against the "no confidence" statement of commissioners at the July 1 meeting, but he had to switch his vote to abstain after the city attorney said he wasn't eligible to vote on the measure. Holladay told commissioners his objection to the "no confidence" vote had to do with "convicting" him before the city receives findings from the ongoing investigation into his actions. Commission President Rachel Lyles Smith clarified that the vote wasn't a conviction, but rather a statement of loss of trust in Holladay, and he offered no further objection to the vote.
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