Oregon City election challengers make their case
Two candidates for Oregon City Commission have no previous experience volunteering for the city and are attempting to unseat incumbents without criticizing their voting records.
Jeff Akin and Dave Hayden both have histories in court, state records show, unlike the sitting commissioners who have no criminal record.
In 2016, when he was living in West Linn, Akin sued the city over a clogged storm drain. He told Fox News that a powerful storm sent "thousands of gallons of water pouring down the streets with nowhere to go but into our garage."
Court records show that Akin sued West Linn for $160,000, but the city's insurance company settled for $40,000. Akin said damages to his home were in excess of $200,000, so he was unsatisfied with the result of the lawsuit.
"We lost so much, including precious memorabilia and items that had been in our families, sometimes, for generations," he said.
Since he recently moved to Oregon City, Akin says it's "difficult to say" what he would do if faced with a similar situation here.
"I do not believe Oregon City's staff, city manager nor its elected officials would have handled a situation like this in the way West Linn did," Akin said. "If this were to have happened to us in Oregon City, it is my belief that the city would have worked with us to resolve the problem, as we attempted to do with West Linn."
Meanwhile, Akin is clarifying a statement he made in the Voters' Pamphlet about his educational background including a certificate from Cornell University on diversity and inclusion, which does not mean that he is a graduate of the Ivy League school.
Akin, a DHS administrator, said his employer, the state of Oregon, didn't pay for Cornell's eight-week online course that he completed this spring.
"That helped me better understand the dimensions of diversity, equity and inclusion and to create welcoming environments that embrace and celebrate them," Akin said. "I paid for this program myself to enrich my leadership skills and to become a better ally for people and populations that have historically been marginalized."
Hayden also provided a potentially misleading statement in his Voters' Pamphlet statement by claiming to be a "Small Business Owner providering (sic) installation and service of computer servers." State records show he has owned such businesses, but they have since folded or otherwise dissolved. Hayden clarified to this newspaper that he is now a sole proprietor and doesn't have to be registered with the state, since he is no longer using an assumed business name.
Hayden's court records are on the criminal side, unlike Akin's civil court record. Hayden has been found guilty of violating speed limits, having an expired vehicle registration and following too closely. After he completed a "Trauma Nurses Talk Tough" course for failing to use seatbelts, he was most recently convicted of speeding again. Hayden says that his conviction history was "not horrible in my estimation," given that he drives "a lot of miles" annually.
"I cover data centers from Eugene to Longview and the coast to Bend for my customers," he said.
Akin said he is simply trying to provide a "different perspective" than Frank O'Donnell, whom he is hoping to unseat from the Oregon City Commission.
"It is important to me that my campaign is respectful and focuses on building people and our community up instead of tearing them down," Akin said. "As an individual working a full-time job and raising a young child, I am experiencing what so many residents of Oregon City are."
Akin is endorsed by the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland, and Hayden also has emphasized affordable housing in his campaign. However, Hayden has not criticized his opponent, Denyse McGriff, for any of her votes related to regulation of construction in the city. If he won the election, Hayden would unseat the first person of color ever on the OC Commission.
Hayden made a general statement on Facebook about how he believes that housing prices will go up.
"Without more housing, the cost of living in Oregon City will become unaffordable for our children and ourselves," he said. "As city commissioner, I will work hard to reduce restrictions to building more affordable housing and keeping our city vital and healthy."
Both McGriff and O'Donnell have voted in reductions in restrictions on affordable housing through a series of city code amendments that became effective Jan. 17.
This story was updated from its original version online with additional comments from Dave Hayden regarding his business ownership and conviction history.
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