The Clackamas County Republican Party has voted to support Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay in his fight against a Nov. 10 recall election, triggered when volunteers easily collected enough valid signatures before the deadline last month.
The Clackamas County GOP says its executive committee made the decision to support Holladay after a “lengthy discussion” during an Oct. 14 meeting.
“Mayor Holladay did not violate city or state policies or laws with his comments,” the local party said in a press release this week. “It was the decision of the Committee that Mayor Holladay’s comments ‘hurt the feelings’ of certain people, which does not meet the criteria for the recall.”
Holladay has faced backlash for a number of controversies this year, including comments on social media that appeared to minimize police killings of unarmed Black people.
He also drew fire for being the only Portland-area mayor to refuse to sign a statement condemning the killing of George Floyd and systemic racism, and for comments on Facebook that were critical of Black Lives Matter protests.
Holladay has declined to comment on the recall effort, but he read a prepared statement at a meeting in June, in which he called for justice for both Floyd and the former Minneapolis police officers allegedly responsible for his death, and defended his comments.
“Nothing I said or posted was racist — not even debatable, but here we are tonight,” he said at the June 7 meeting. “I commit to treat each and every one of the citizens of Oregon City with equal respect and equal protection.”
He echoed these comments in his statement of justification that will appear on the recall ballot, saying Oregon City’s “diverse community and residents come first,” while upholding the rights of everyone to “believe and say what we believe.”
Holladay had earlier been on the hot seat for his loose talk about reopening businesses in violation of statewide coronavirus orders — which prompted a letter from the state attorney general threatening legal repercussions.
“Although I recognize that we all do not always see eye to eye with Mayor Holladay, we will stand behind him in this unsubstantiated recall effort,” said Clackamas County Republican Party Chair Traci Hensley, who is also a member of the Canby City Council but was not speaking in that capacity.
Reached Tuesday, recall campaign manager Adam Marl — a registered Republican who said he has been involved with the Clackamas County GOP since high school and knows many of the members of its executive committee personally — called the endorsement “unfortunate.”
“I think it’s sad that they’re wasting their time on a campaign that’s going to give them a bad name,” Marl said. “And I think, if the Clackamas County Republican Party is going to continue to attach themselves to people like Dan Holladay, Republicans are going to continue to lose in Clackamas County.”
Marl said many members of the party executive committee do not live in Oregon City — including Hensley, a longtime Canby resident.
He also pointed out that several prominent Republicans in Oregon City, including Commission President Rachel Lyles Smith and school board member Evon Tekorius — a one-time GOP nominee for the state House of Representatives — had endorsed Holladay’s recall.
“They signed the petition, because they recognized that ethics and accountability are not partisan issues,” Marl said.
The Clackamas County Republican Party has a history of standing by city officials facing “unjust recall efforts,” the press release said, including former Gladstone City councilors Kim Sieckmann, a Republican, and Steve Johnson, a Democrat.
The Democratic Party of Clackamas County had also issued a statement opposing the two recalls. However, both were successfully removed from office in the recall election on May 23, 2017.
The recall ballots were mailed to Oregon City registered voters this week. The recall election ballot is separate from the one for the general election — and must remain separate.
Attention, #OregonCity residents! OC will be voting a Recall Election Ballot (due Nov. 10) that overlaps with the General Election Ballot (due Nov. 3). Please follow these critical steps to ensure your ballot is properly counted in each election. @orcitylibrary @oregoncitynews pic.twitter.com/7GBuy7LCsQ
General election ballots must be returned in their yellow-striped envelopes by Nov. 3. Recall election ballots must be returned in their blue-and-black-striped envelopes by Nov. 10. Do not use the same envelope for both ballots.