O.C. Mayor Recall Effort Hauls in 3,451 Unverified Signatures — 1,000 More Than Was Needed

Although the signatures will still need to be verified, it appears safe to say that the recall election of Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay will take place in November.

The effort announced at the close of its Monday deadline that it had collected and turned in for verification a total of 3,451 signatures — over 1,000 more than what was needed to trigger the recall.

“We blasted through our minimum requirement of 2,400, and far exceeded our ‘reach’ goal of 3,100,” Recall Dan Holladay spokeswoman Chanda Hall told The Canby Current. “These are raw signatures; we will have the final number verified by the county on Oct. 1.

“But to have such high verification rates amid a pandemic, wildfire evacuations, and no paid staff or paid circulators — this feels like a huge win.”

According to Hall, elections office staff said this was the “cleanest campaign” they had seen, referring to “our high level of verified signatures.”

“It has been a privilege to volunteer alongside such thoughtful, smart, good-natured, ethical, tireless people,” she said. “Truly.”

The effort faced unprecedented challenges, including a pandemic that nixed door-to-door signature gathering, one of the most tried-and-true methods of gathering large numbers of verified signatures.

Instead, volunteers hosted a number of drive-through signing events and even a socially distanced rally or two. Petitioners were also a mainstay at the Oregon City Farmers Market and several other businesses for much of the summer.

Late last month, the effort announced it had raised enough funds to mail signature sheets to more than 11,000 households in Oregon City, which they’d hoped would provide the last dose of support the recall effort needed.

In the home stretch, another crisis — the wildfires that have ravaged much of the state in September, including Clackamas County — canceled the last two weeks of planned events.

“I am amazed at this team, and the success that we have seen truly reflects the fervor and commitment of our volunteers,” Hall said. “No paid staff, all-volunteer circulatory, no big donors, a pandemic (so no door-to-door), a wildfire canceling the last two weeks of signing events; against all odds, we are succeeding.”

Petitioners asked, but the Sept. 21 deadline would not be moved (Oregon City Recorder Kattie Riggs said she did not have the authority to extend it).

Still, in the waning days of the effort, campaign manager Adam Marl was confident of his team’s imminent success.

“With the outpouring of support that we have seen, especially in the last few days, I am confident that we will qualify for the ballot,” he said in a Sept. 10 press release. “Fellow Oregon City voters: Get ready, because together, we are going to recall Dan Holladay this November.”

Petitioners have numerous complaints about Holladay, who is in his second term as mayor but has also served as a city commissioner and school board member.

Residents, as well as other local elected officials, decried Hollday’s attempts to disregard statewide coronavirus restrictions and comments viewed by many as insensitive to the Black community, among other statements and patterns of behavior that some Oregon City residents have found concerning.

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

Holladay himself has declined to comment to media about the recall effort, though in a city meeting earlier this month, he asked recall opponents to “feel free to respectfully write something on that petition and share your feelings why you don’t support the recall and send it back,” he said, referring to the mailers that had been sent out by the Recall Dan Holladay group.

Holladay noted that he was speaking as a “private citizen,” not as the mayor.

Hall told the Current that petitioners did receive a “very small, minuscule percentage of mailers returned with offensive language, ranging from dismissive to expletives to personal insults to outright racist dog whistles.”

“We assume these were citizens heeding [Holladay’s] call,” she said.

Chief petitioner Jeana Gannon-Gonzales brings a box full of signature sheets to Oregon City’s City Hall on Sept. 10. Photo credit: Michael Peck.

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