Attorney: Mayor Denyse McGriff qualified as mayoral candidate
Oregon City's attorney disagreed with a request by mayoral challenger Dan Berge to disqualify Mayor Denyse McGriff from running in the November election.
Oregon City's charter says that candidates are eligible if they haven't been elected to "two terms of four years in the previous 10 years." McGriff, who was elected to a four-year term for city commissioner in 2020, recently won a special election for the final few months of a mayoral term and now seeks a full four-year term as mayor.
"Given that Ms. McGriff has only been elected to an office for one term of four years in the previous 10 years, Ms. McGriff remains eligible to run for the office of mayor at the November 2022 general election," wrote Oregon City attorney William Kabeiseman to Berge in a Sept. 26 memo.
With 79.4% of the vote, McGriff easily won the Oregon City special mayoral election on Aug. 23, when there were four candidates on the ballot. Berge received 10.3% of the vote in August.
Former Mayor Rachel Lyles Smith made the special election necessary when she resigned effective April 22 to move out of the state.
For the November election, there are only two candidates on the ballot for the mayoral seat, McGriff and Berge.
Berge pointed to a May ballot measure that failed by a wide margin to eliminate term limits in Oregon City.
"The citizens spoke loudly when they only wanted two four-year terms in their vote to reject the term-limits ballot measure," Berge said.
Berge owns a limited-liability company called Berge NW, which he says he keeps active in case he wants to return to farming, although he's currently retired. In 2018, a county circuit judge granted a restraining order against Berge to prevent him from damaging legal cannabis plants or interfering with a tenant's property after Berge padlocked the area and threatened to burn up his tenant's $200,000 worth of cannabis plants.
Berge said that he "probably shouldn't have" threatened to burn the tenant's plants.
McGriff made Oregon City history a third time with her mayoral election, first with her appointment by city commissioners in March 2019 to become the first person of color to serve on the Oregon City Commission, and second by having earned the support of voters in November 2020 to serve a full four-year term as a commissioner. During her mayoral swearing-in ceremony on Sept. 21, McGriff said that the historic significance of the event wasn't lost on her.
"I'm proud to volunteer my time, my talents and my heart to the city of Oregon City," McGriff said. "We are not afraid to push the boundaries to benefit Oregon City, but we will do it within the confines of the law."
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