Mayor Lights Cigarette while Health Care Worker Voices Covid-19 Concerns

An Oregon mayor who is already the target of a recall campaign over his attempts to disregard statewide coronavirus restrictions and comments viewed by many as insensitive to the Black community is again raising some eyebrows.

During a virtual meeting of the Oregon City Commission last month, as a local nurse practitioner expressed concerns about the pandemic of Covid-19, a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay lit a cigarette before shutting off his video feed.

Another member of the commission, Commissioner Rocky Smith — who has criticized Holladay and publicly demanded that he resign — seems to notice the mayor’s behavior and shakes his head in apparent disbelief. Both Holladay and Smith attended the Aug. 19 meeting virtually. Holladay appears to be at home.

The nurse practitioner, Meg Anderson, blasted Holladay for his loose talk in April about reopening businesses in violation of the governor’s orders.

They were discussions that he never followed through on, but they nevertheless prompted a sharply worded letter from the attorney general’s office, threatening legal repercussions against him, Oregon City and any businesses that willfully violated the coronavirus restrictions.

Anderson called his behavior “jeopardizing toward the welfare of Oregon City residents” and “an embarrassment.”

“Covid-19 is here, and I can tell you it is real,” Anderson says, as Holladay can be seen lighting up. “No one is happy it is here. It has changed our economy, taken jobs, made people ill and separated us from friends and family. However, death is its most permanent and devastating impact.”

It was at that point that Holladay turned off his video feed, as Anderson recounted the Covid-19 death tolls as they stood at the time: nearly 400 Oregonians and more than 175,000 Americans. They have since grown to 468 and more than 186,000, respectively, as of Wednesday.

“When you are the mayor of a city, you are not only responsible for the well-being and safety of the citizens but should also be able to provide leadership in times of crisis,” Anderson says. “His utter disregard towards the health of the citizens he seeks to serve is disappointing, to say the least.”

She also took Holladay to task for his earlier comments on Facebook and the community networking app Nextdoor, which seemed dismissive of statistics showing a disproportionate number of unarmed Black people are killed by police, as well as the global protests sparked by the death of Minnesotan George Floyd.

Anderson called his remarks inappropriate, inaccurate and ignorant.

“Instead of taking the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with members of our community, he decided to make degrading comments about a national civil rights movement,” she says. “As a private citizen, I take every opportunity to learn, engage in dialogue during this momentous time in our country. Meanwhile, Dan Holladay, an elected official, can’t be bothered to listen or even try.”

Holladay, still with his video feed off, did not address Anderson’s criticism of his comments with regard to the Black community or Covid-19, but did dispute her allegations that he misused his position as well as public funds in a private spat with a developer.

Reached this week by The Canby Current, Holladay declined to comment on the video clip above, which was circulated to local media this week by the Committee to Recall Dan Holladay, a grassroots group seeking to remove the mayor from office in November.

The organization announced this week that it is sending a mass mailer with recall petition sheets to 11,210 Oregon City households, as its Sept. 21 deadline looms. Petitioners must collect at least 2,400 verified signatures from registered voters in Oregon City to trigger a recall election.

Committee spokeswoman Chanda Hall told the Current their goal is to gather at least 3,100 signatures as a buffer for those that are likely to be disqualified for various reasons. Hall said the organization has collected more than 2,000 so far.

The mayor’s recall has been endorsed by all four current city commissioners, as well as three former mayors and the superintendent of the Oregon City School District.

See the full Aug. 19 meeting of the Oregon City Commission below. The exchange described above occurs at approximately the 1:03:00 mark.

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