Clackamas County on Oct. 1 validated many more than required 2,400 signatures to recall Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay, but he could avoid the possiblity of two elections costing the city $60,000 by resigning soon.
Holladay will cost Oregon City taxpayers approximately $30,000, whether or not he chooses to resign before the 5 p.m. deadline Oct. 6.
If Holladay doesn't submit a "statement of justification" of no more than 200 words by the deadline, he will be removed from office automatically, and just one special election would be held to elect a new mayor on March 9. If Holladay submits the statement and is voted out of office, taxpayers could be on the hook for two special elections, the November recall election and the March special election, which have a total cost estimated at $60,000, or about $30,000 per election.
Chief recall petitioner Jeana Gannon-Gonzales said it was important to note that removing Holladay from office was a last resort after city commissioners voted to censure him and he refused to correct his behavior.
"None of us want to be recalling our mayor," she said. "He could spare us all and resign."
After the county verifies signatures of voters calling for his removal from office, Holladay has five days to either resign or the recall election will be held Nov. 10, the 35th day after the last day for him to resign.
This election is unprecendented in Oregon City for several reasons. Never in the history of Oregon's oldest city has a mayoral recall been on the ballot, let alone a mayor recalled. Only 1,752 valid signatures were needed for the last Oregon City commissioner who was recalled in 2011, Jim Nicita, and those were mostly collected by paid circulators, unlike the volunteers who collected Holladay recall signatures.
Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall said the Elections Office was able to validate 3,037 signatures out of the 3,447 submitted by the petitioners, an 88% acceptance rate.
Recall campaign organizers say they were able to collect well over the 2,400 valid signature requirement, thanks to dedicated volunteers who helped gather signatures, generous donors who made it possible to mail signature sheets directly to OC households, and small business partners who lent their spaces for safe signing opportunities.
"With a timeframe of just 90 days, this campaign beat the odds and collected more than enough signatures to qualify for a special election," recall campaign spokesman Adam Marl said. "The pandemic did not stop us. National unrest did not stop us. Even raging wildfires and evacuations did not stop us. Today, we celebrate the triumph of qualifying for a special election amid a confluence of historic crises. Tomorrow, we continue the fight for the city we love and call home."
Holladay's attempt to get people to use the recall campaign's prepaid envelopes to show their mayoral support apparently backfired. Holladay has responded to critics by advocating that his possible supporters should hijack recall campaign materials to criticize the campaign.
City Recorder Kattie Riggs said if the mayor is removed from office, Commission President Rachel Lyles Smith will serve as the temporary chair to lead meetings until the election for a replacement mayor.
Marl and the recall campaign encouraged every qualified citizen to register to vote by Oct. 13 at oregonvotes.gov/myvote.
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