Larry Didway, the superintendent of the Oregon City School District, joined various community leaders on Sunday, June 28, in calling for the resignation of Mayor Dan Holladay, who became the subject of an official recall petition on June 22.
"At your best, you have been a dedicated public servant who has donated countless hours at great personal sacrifice to improve the city and community we both love," Didway wrote in an open letter to Holladay. "At your worst though, both your words and deeds have been abusive, tone deaf and ethically challenged."
In writing the letter, Didway took a step that is "extraordinary," by his own admission. He had to walk a fine line between his personal and professional lives, saying his letter targeting Holladay was his own opinion as a "longtime Oregon City resident, parent, educator and community leader" but didn't reflect the views of the district.
"I, typically, I am much more reserved in my public statements, because I do acknowledge that I hold a public office that is difficult to distinguish from my personal stances," Didway said.
Although the school district has not taken an official stance on Holladay, Oregon City School Board member Steven Soll has also publicly called on Holladay to resign. School board members recently affirmed the district's 2017 equity stance as a foundation for ensuring welcoming learning environments and the success of every student.
The district's elected officials voted emergency meeting to support a resolution in support of all students, families, staff and community members of color, through a proclamation condemning violence and racism directed at Black and African Americans on June 4. That was the same day Holladay was the only regional mayor out of 26 who declined to sign a statement from the Mayors' Metropolitan Consortium standing in solidarity with residents mourning George Floyd's murder.
Didway said he has maintained a "friendly working relationship for many years" with Holladay, with whom he shares numerous friends, acquaintances and memories.
"For those reasons and more, it's regrettable that I feel so compelled to deliver this urgent message: you must resign now," Didway wrote.The letter concludes:"As an advocate for an inclusive and anti-racist community, I urge you to educate yourself about racism and reflect upon your own privilege and bias. However, the residents of this community, especially those who are Black and African American, should not have to wait for you to reckon with and atone for the undeniable harm you have caused while occupying the mayor's seat.
"Our children are watching and listening. They deserve a better role model in civic leadership. Do the right thing to spare this community additional pain and your fellow commissioners any further drama. You can demonstrate your professed love for the City of Oregon City and inaugurate the long road to healing that we desperately need. Dan, please resign now."
Holladay did not respond to requests for comment on Didway's letter.
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