Five Candidates Vie to Replace Ousted Oregon City Mayor

Five candidates have thrown their hats in the ring to replace Dan Holladay, the first and only mayor to be successfully recalled in the 176-year history of Oregon City.

In no particular order, they are Damon Mabee, Rachel Lyles Smith, Phil Heppner, Alex Josephy and Leslie Wright Jr.

Mabee ran unsuccessfully against Holladay in 2018, where he claimed 35.77% of the vote in a three-candidate field — despite missing the deadline to be in the voters’ pamphlet. Mabee signed the petition to recall Holladay but said he declined to involve himself in the effort to avoid the appearance that it was “sour grapes.”

Now that Holladay has been successfully removed from office (with 68% of voters supporting his recall), he no longer feels the need for such restraint.

“I would be a hypocrite if I ran against him in 2018 and did not step up now,” Mabee said. “Dan was recalled for the very attitude that caused me to challenge him. I hope the people of Oregon City are now willing to have a mayor that listens and respects their opinion, and will be clear in why they are making decisions.”

Lyles Smith is the only current city commission member to throw her hat into the ring for higher office. She had previously served as commission president and interim mayor, but currently both times are being filled by fellow Commissioner Rocky Smith.

“I currently lead the commission with professionalism and will provide the respectful representation that our community deserves,” she said. “I am a trusted leader. I don’t play political games. I am transparent in my decision-making. I bring stability, a spirit of collaboration, and a willingness to listen to our community. I give 100%.”

Learn more about her and her policy positions on her campaign website.

Heppner is a senior project manager for a chemical firm who has bucked the trend in modern political donations by declining to accept donations, regardless of size or source.

“During these very hard times, I can not nor will I accept anyone’s hard-earned money just so I can print flyers or a billboard,” Heppner said on his campaign Facebook page. “If I win, it’s by the power of the people and not by someone else’s money. If you wanted to donate to me please take that money and spend it on the small businesses in Oregon City.”

The youngest candidate, Josephy has been involved in state and national politics since 2015. He has previously worked on the presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang, and served two years as secretary of the Democratic Party of Oregon.

He said his purpose in running for mayor is to “give a voice to the experiences that the every-day Oregon City resident has to face.” His campaign website lists his stances on and approach to significant issues facing the city, state and nation, including the pandemic, racial injustice and police reform, political division and homelessness.

Wright is a successful business owner of numerous janitorial companies, including Nationwide Building Maintenance & Association, author of Janitorial: A Poor Man’s Business, but a Rich Man’s Money and an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

He “is the true definition of a rags-to-riches story,” his website states. “He has also helped countless others start up their own businesses along the way. It is Mr. Wright’s sincere passion to see this generation thrive in the field of janitorial in the same way he has over the past 40 years.”

All candidates will have the option of submitting a statement and photo to be printed in the voters’ pamphlet for the special district election on March 9. The new mayor would take office in April and serve through the remainder of Holladay’s term in December 2022.

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