City Hall critic files for Oregon City mayor
Mark Matheson has become the second candidate to file for the top seat on the Oregon City Commission in an effort to replace current Mayor Dan Holladay next year.
Matheson has served as vice-chair of the Barclay Hills Neighborhood Association and has filed two recall petitions against Holladay over the past couple of years to protest the city administration. Rather than collecting enough signatures to force a recall election, he's kept the petitions as "a level of protection and authenticity for opposing a government administration."
Matheson unsuccessfully tried to run for mayor two years early by contending that Holladay would have given up his mayoral seat if Holladay had been successful in obtaining a seat on the county commission in 2016.
"Oregon City deserves a full-time mayor and not a self-proclaimed 'volunteer mayor' and not someone looking for a remuneration package after their political terms are over," Matheson said.
An Oregon City resident for 26 years, Matheson is a member of the Independent Party of Oregon and has served on the Oregon City Citizens Involvement Committee for over three years, in addition to his neighborhood leadership.
Matheson's résumé describes how he has worked for or alongside local, regional and federal governmental groups on public-works projects, land use, disaster mitigation, wildland fires, executive administrative responsibilities, public policy development and "comprehensive government solutions." He would like Oregon City to become less dependent on user fees and "funding gimmicks."
Matheson is calling for a formal investigation into the arrangement the Blue Heron Paper Co. owner has with local officials. As previously reported, the owner of the former paper mill has signed onto permits for a riverwalk, but hasn't paid his $200,000 contribution to the $25 million public walkway designed to spur development of the site by providing access to Willamette Falls.
"Have the local leadership take the steps to protect the community from the owner slipping away with the profits and leaving the public with the mess, like he has done in the past," Matheson said.
Matheson's vision includes Oregon City hosting a National Disaster Response Complex at the Willamette Falls site designed to create local jobs. His disaster response company has submitted a memorandum of understanding to Australian officials to take over the now-shuttered General Motors plant in the city of Playford, South Australia.
"[Oregon] City's work force is a cross-sectional bridge between innovation, commercial, industrial and technology, and its historical significance as a transportation hub hasn't changed," Matheson said. "It's cradled around major highways, a railroad line, waterway and provides a natural atmosphere for creating more economic opportunity."
Over 500 of the jobs that Matheson envisions don't require people to physically work in the Willamette Falls complex because they would be in the field delivering and operating Mobile Application Vehicle Internet Service units "capable of deploying a wireless network over a devastated community."
He estimates the initiative would generate over $36 million in wages, while encouraging commercial tourism with South Australia throughout the year. Matheson has an email of encouragement for the plan from Ken Murphy, the former director of Oregon's Office of Emergency Management before he took the administrator's post for FEMA in Region X.
"Building the [National Disaster Response] Complex accomplishes the same goal as the [Willamette Falls] Legacy and Riverwalk projects with a lot more amenities for everyone and using a lot less of the public's money," Matheson said. "The big picture … is intended to give the state the justification and the revenue to elevate Highway 99E over the site and remove the S-curve below the railroad tracks."
Lawsuit against city
Matheson successfully appealed code enforcement violations at his house on Molalla Avenue.
Matheson had hung a large "Recall Mayor Holladay" banner in front of his house, which is located at a busy intersection in the Hilltop area of Oregon City. Shortly after filing the initial recall petition in 2016, Matheson's wife received $71,400 in fines for a roof-repair permit that was not needed, an attempted action by the city that he saw as retaliatory.
"Dan Holladay had something to do with the stop-work order, but it is up the jury," Matheson said.
Matheson successfully petitioned a county judge to reverse the city's fine and its illegal stop-work order. On Aug. 2, Clackamas County Circuit Judge Susie L. Norby ordered that the Municipal Court rule in favor of the Mathesons.
"[T]his Court concludes that there is not substantial evidence in the whole record on review to support the Municipal Court's finding that more than 15 percent of the petitioners' skip sheathing was removed from their roof, or that the Stop Work Order was lawfully issued," Norby said.
Norby dismissed the city's claims in a Motion to Reconsider that reversing the fines against the Mathesons would undermine its ability to keep citizens safe through enforcing Building Code provisions. Following these initial victories, Matheson continued to press his claims against the city for what he alleges are illegal retaliatory actions toward his family's home through the city's Code Enforcement practices through a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the city for intentional infliction of emotional distress among other alleged civil-rights violations.
He says he intends to use the money, if he wins the lawsuit, to create the living-wage jobs Oregon City needs.
"The public should know the city has retained six attorneys to file several frivolous motions that were intended to delay a trial," Matheson said. "As it stands, the commissioners in part are responsible for elongating as tactical strategy. At a trial, we find out why my wife received four violation letters in less than 12 months, and why it started after publicly challenging the city's administration.
"The discovery phase of the lawsuit, which is something the city is trying to block, but insists on having the privileged position to ignore, will only confirm the obvious to a jury. Damages are between $8 million and $1.54 billion, and the city has already lost."
Matheson has since revised his "Recall Mayor Holladay" banner to say "Reject Mayor Holladay" and added a banner encouraging a vote for Matheson as mayor.