Recall Election Is On, as O.C. Mayor Refuses to Resign

A recall election for Mayor Dan Holladay will be held in November, as the second-term mayor of Oregon City filed the necessary statement of justification this week to avoid an automatic resignation.

After the local effort easily collected enough valid signatures to trigger a recall last week, Holladay had five days to voluntarily resign or submit a 200-word statement justifying his term of office, which would be printed along with the election ballots.

It was the first successful mayoral recall effort in the history of Oregon’s first city, though city council members — officially referred to as city commissioners — have faced recall before.

In his statement of justification, which contained frequent statements in all caps and several typographical or formatting errors, Mayor Holladay expounded on his accomplishments and approach to the office, emphasizing that service to all Oregon City residents is his top priority.

“I’ve served as your Oregon City Mayor and Commissioner one decade with YOU AS THE CITIZEN as my boss,” he said. “OUR DIVERSE COMMUNITY AND RESIDENTS COME FIRST.”

Courtesy the Clackamas County Elections Office.

He claimed Oregon City’s new library and Robert Libke Public Safety Building among his accomplishments and vowed to “continue my leadership for new public works facility” if he survives the recall vote.

He also touted success with the city’s roads, budgeting, financial records and downtown development revitalization.

He claimed to have built strong relationships with local, county and state leaders, though several Oregon City officials — including all four current commissioners, three former mayors and the school superintendent — have endorsed his recall.

He made several value statements, including his support of law enforcement (“I will always stand with our excellent police officers”) and the rule of law (“I will always stand up for the rule of law and equal treatment for ALL citizens”).

“We all have rights to believe and say what we believe and not be ridiculed, cancelled or recalled for fighting for our citizens first,” Holladay said. “HELP ME HELP YOU KEEP OREGON CITY A GREAT PLACE. VOTE No on the RECKLESS RECALL.”

Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay speaks during the dedication of the Robert Libke Public Safety Building on Oct. 6. Photo by Tyler Francke.

The Recall Dan Holladay effort has released several scathing responses to his statement, referring to him a “reckless mayor” and arguing that most of the accomplishments he claimed had been the work of others or were a more collective effort.

“In Mr. Holladay’s justification statement, he claims that this is a reckless recall,” chief petitioner Jeana Gonzalez said during an Oct. 7 Oregon City Commission meeting. “I find this ironic, because it’s his own reckless behavior that prompted this recall.

“Mr. Holladay’s statement does not reflect the damage he has done to our city, but it does take credit for the hard work of others.”

Ballots will be mailed to Oregon City registered voters starting Oct. 21, according to county election officials.

The recall election will cost the city an estimated $30,000, as will the special election to replace him if he is indeed removed from office. In the interim, Commission President Rachel Lyles Smith would serve as the interim meeting chair until a special election is held to seat a new mayor in March.

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

Holladay faced backlash in April for his loose talk about reopening businesses in violation of statewide coronavirus orders and in June for controversial social media posts about police violence and the Black Lives Matter protests.

He was also criticized for being the only mayor in the Portland metro area to not sign a letter mourning the killing of George Floyd and supporting peaceful protests, though he later decried the police actions that led to Floyd’s death and attempted to explain his earlier comments.

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