King City mayor to step down at end of the year
After more than a dozen years of involvement in King City politics, including the last five years as mayor, Ken Gibson is calling it a career.
Gibson announced his intention to retire from politics during a Nov. 17, King City Council meeting. Both he and Councilor Dave Platt announced plans to step down effective Dec. 31, a full year before their terms officially expire.
Gibson said he and his wife Ramona are going to spend time doing some things they haven't had a chance to do thus far.
"We had two years of real retirement, from '06 to '08, and then I decided to get involved with (politics) so 13 years later, it's time to find out what real retirement feels like," Gibson said Monday.
Gibson, 73, joined the council in April 2008, after being appointed to a vacated seat. He would serve until 2010 but didn't run for election when the term expired. However, he sought another appointment for a vacated seat in 2011 and was once again appointed.
He won a seat on council in 2012 and again in 2016, when he was appointed mayor, following the death of Mayor Darrel Unruh.
In King City, the mayor is not an elected position, rather it's an appointed position determined by the council.
"This was all part of us coming together with a succession plan," Gibson said. "I saw no real purpose in me serving out the entire term all the way into '22 when I knew that it was highly likely that Jaimie Fender, our council president, would become mayor and I decided that it would be of great benefit to the city to have her transition into it even before she has to run."
The King City Council is now accepting applications to fill out the remainder of Gibson's and Platt's terms, which both expire on Dec. 31, 2022.
"We have some planning commissioners who are interested, and they will apply but anyone within the city can apply but we really feel that it's a good transition from planning commission to council," Gibson said.
Asked about his biggest accomplishment during his tenure, the mayor listed the expansion of 500 acres into the urban growth by Metro in 2018. That future development is now known as Kingston Terrace.
Gibson said there was a lot of work that went into pushing that expansion forward and that there were a lot of doubters who didn't think King City could make that happen.
"That was a huge accomplishment. You know most people said, 'well, you know, you're biting off more than you can chew' and that type of thing," he said. "But we proved that we were up for the task. Of course, it wouldn't have happened if we didn't have Mike Weston as our city manager who really worked his tail off to get us to the point of getting that expansion approved."
As far as the future of the city, Gibson said he's excited about the expansion and plans to create a town center, something that would create new retail spaces and shopping in King City, creating a brand new opportunity for the city at a time when most other cities are dealing with infilling what they have left of their developable land.
"This is on a grand scale that we can almost 'clean slate' and come up with a really, really nice area for shopping and dining and all of those kinds of things, and with a variety of housing there's going to be a variety of incomes and that's our goal from day one," he said.
Regarding discussion that turned controversial in recent months as talk about the extension of Fischer Road has taken place, Gibson said it's a project that ultimately has to get done because of the need for an east/west connection from Highway 99W to Roy Rogers Road.
"How is it really going to look in the end, you know, what that route is going to be, still remains to be seen but we have to have an east/west connection of residential roads (but it's) nowhere close to being anything like the opposition calls it â€“ an expressway or a thoroughfare," he said. "That is not anything that we'd ever agree to."
Last summer, discussion of the road extension resulted in actual vandalism when someone spray-painted the words "No Fisher (sic) Road" on the garage door of Gibson's Edgewater home. He described it as a disconcerting action that resulted in the installation of additional security measures.
"It was a one-time deal and purely motivated by somebody who was all worked up over the Fischer Road thing and they lashed out at the mayor, the person that they knew where I lived and that's what they did," he said. "I doubt very seriously if there's any concern of anything like that happening again in the future."
Still, he found it disappointing, saying that neither himself nor members of the city council are paid, and he felt violated that someone was creeping around his house "and I take great pride in my property, you know."
"These men and women who are volunteering their time to make the city the best it can be, raising young families and working full time jobs … they deserve better than this," he said.
Gibson said he's not entirely done with civic involvement, noting he plans to have conversations in the future with the city manager and his team and will continue to pay attention to what's going on in the city.
"What I'm most looking forward to is having the freedom for my wife and I to spending more quality time together," said Gibson, noting too that he has unlimited flying rights gained from having worked for United Airlines while living in California before moving to Oregon.
Asked what he will miss the most about not being in city politics, Gibson said it's too early to tell.
"My wife and I love it here," he said. "I don't think I'll miss it because I'm still here."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.