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Republican Stan Pulliam is exploring running for Oregon governor next year.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Protesters toppled the statue of President Abraham Lincoln in the South Park Blocks last year.Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam — a Republican considering running for Oregon governor next year — announced Wednesday, July 28, that he hopes to reinstall the three Portland statues of former presidents torn down by protesters in his city.

Pulliam held a news conference at Meinig Memorial Park on July 28 to say the Sandy City Council will consider offering to repair, install and maintain the statues of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. The statues have remained in storage since they were toppled last year.

The council will partner with local nonprofits to fund the project, said Pulliam, who has formed an exploratory gubernatorial campaign committee with its own website.

After a year of racial justice protests resulted in the vandalism and removal of several historical Portland monuments, Pulliam's announcement came after a recent update to the Regional Arts and Culture Council policy, which could make the removal of the statues permanent.

"When we heard last week that the city of Portland is considering not putting the statues back up, we decided we're tired of the embarrassment," Pulliam told KOIN 6 News. "It's time for communities like Sandy to step up and say 'not everyone feels this way!'"

During his news conference, Pulliam acknowledged that the men memorialized by the statues have made mistakes: "We should celebrate the things that should be celebrated, and learn from the things that shouldn't. A statue can do both."

Pulliam told KOIN 6 News the men deserved to be honored for their contributions despite their controversial past. "These are American treasures. They're heroes that we should recognize and really teach our future generations about both the positive and negative attributes."

The statue restoration proposal coincides with the recent vandalism of the York bust at Mount Tabor Park. According to Portland Parks & Recreation Director Adena Long, the memorial of the Black slave who took part in the Lewis and Clark expedition was removed Wednesday morning following the most recent vandalism.

"We would love to have the York statue in Sandy as well, I believe! It's something that should be talked about at our next City Council meeting along with these other statues," Pulliam said in response to a question from KOIN 6 News.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.

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