He has lived in King City 11 years and served on the Planning Commission
King City didn't have a vacant seat on the City Council for too long - on Oct. 2, Darrel Unruh was appointed to the position vacated by longtime councilor Dick Winn, who resigned July 17 and moved out of state.
Unruh, who has served on the King City Planning Commission for more than four years and has worked in commercial real estate for 15-plus years, noted in his application that he has experience with housing issues, zoning applications, building permits and related issues.
Unruh, 68, is almost a native Oregonian - he was born in Oklahoma and moved with his family to Oregon when he was 9 ½ years old. He graduated from David Douglas High School in 1963 and joined the Naval Reserves.
Following his stint in the Navy, Unruh took college computer classes and then embarked on a career that spanned several industries: He was a driver/salesman for OK Tires, served as a bartender and Moose Lodge manager, and then worked for two meat companies delivering to restaurants until he started his own business, spending 27 years in the food and beverage business, including a stint in Las Vegas.
Back in Oregon, Unruh got his real estate license in 1992 and noted that his work is about 90 percent commercial, involving the sale of restaurants, coffee shops, bars and so on.
He moved to King City 11 years ago and said he applied for a seat on the Planning Commission "because I was asked to be on it."
One of his interests is transportation "because I see it falling by the wayside," he said. "Oregon has more planners that any state, yet we still see the results of bad planning - connections that are not logical, like freeway entrances and exits that overlap. I think you can never look far enough ahead into the future when it comes to planning open areas and parks.
"One thing I like better in Nevada over Oregon is that in Nevada, they can plan and build a road in two years, while in Oregon, it takes five to 10 years."
On a broader issue, "I'm not happy with the current political status in the U.S.," Unruh said.
Unruh said he read about the opening on the City Council in the Regal Courier, and after thinking about it for a couple of days, he went to City Hall to apply and talked to City Manager Dave Wells.
"Dave encouraged me to apply, and so did other people," said Unruh, who shares his home with Jayne Shaw, a United Way account executive, and has a grown son, Terry. "I have no political ambitions - I would like to see how the council makes decisions. If I can make a little bit of a difference, I want to do it."
Unruh volunteers in other ways as well - he picks up day-old bread at Costco and delivers it to the King City Clubhouse, the Good Neighbor Center for homeless people in Tigard, the Sherwood Senior Center and Friendly House in Northwest Portland.
"I only deliver it to non-profit places," he said.
And cribbage-players should be warned: Unruh is a life member of the American Cribbage Congress.
There were originally three applicants interviewed by the City Council; one dropped out, and the council ultimately voted unanimously for Unruh out of the two remaining applicants.
Wells said, "Welcome aboard!" after the vote, and since Unruh already had a nameplate from serving on the Planning Commission, he was ready to go.