OAKRIDGE, Ore. (KMTR) – Another set of twists and turns in Oakridge with the appointment of a new city administrator and a surprise resignation in the office of Mayor Don Hampton.
Oakridge’s Mayor of more than 8 years, Don Hampton resigned Thursday night, June 21st
, 2012, in an executive session, which followed a city council meeting.
The move has caught many off-guard as it’s yet another change to the city's leadership landscape.
Hampton provided no explanation to the resignation on Thursday evening. NewsSource 16 attempted to contact Hampton via phone and email on Friday, June 22nd
, 2012, but we were unable to reach him.
The resignation came after a productive council meeting, where councilors tied up many major loose ends.
One year after the city nearly went bankrupt due to an imbalanced budget and spending most of its reserves, Oakridge City Council passed a balanced budget on Thursday night, keeping the city operating in the black.
“Last year we had 38-thousand dollars in the bank. This year we're closer to 300-thousand dollars,” said Louis Gomez, a man many have known as Oakridge’s Chief of Police for the last few years.
However, Gomez now has a change in job duties as well. City Council voted Gomez in as the Acting City Administrator on Thursday night. Gomez will now serve in the role for at least the next 45 to 60 days. By the end of that time, councilors hope to have a new applicant picked. Gomez told NewsSource 16 on Friday though that the applicant pool has been narrowed to 6 candidates and that council is hoping to begin interviewing the finalists by July 2nd, 2012.
A possible insight in to Hamilton’s resignation comes with Gomez’s appointment to Acting City Administrator. Earlier in the month at a June 14th
, 2012 city council meeting, Hampton expressed interest in being considered for the position, then saying he would retire once someone was chosen to fill the role permanently. Ultimately, Hamilton was not chosen for the temporary Acting City Administrator job.
With Hamilton’s resignation, a new Acting Mayor has taken his place: current City Council President Jerry Shorey.
“It was very surprising,” said Shorey of Hampton’s resignation.
”I really haven't got my head wrapped around it yet because of the fact that it was unexpected,” said Shorey in an interview with NewsSource 16 on Friday.
“I have to step back, and think about things a bit more, little differently, little different perspective,” said Shorey.
All of the moves make four new leaders in Oakridge City Hall, including new Mayor Jerry Shorey and Acting City Administrator Louis Gomez. There’s also a new Interim Police Chief Dale Scober and a new acting finance director.
Even with the changes though, Gomez and Shorey are projecting confidence.
“Do not discount this community, because we will be back,” said Gomez.
“This town's got some terrific people, there's no doubt about it … every time we've cited a problem in this last year, somebody's stepped up and solved a problem,” said Shorey.
Shorey's vacant city council seat will also by filled soon. Oakridge city administrators will soon ask for those interested in the position to send in "letters of interest." The deadline for those letters will liklely be July 16th, 2012. A replacement councilor will likely be chosen on July 19th, 2012 at a city council meeting. Councilors will chose their next cohort. Eventually, when the term ends on the position, the council seat will go back to the ballot and public vote.
Oakridge City Council also approved a final plan on Thursday night to distribute the free $100 for each resident in the city. The money came from the ABC reality TV show “Secret Millionaire.” (Read more about the free money situation at the following news article, originally published by NewsSource 16 in early June 2012: http://www.kmtr.com/news/local/story/Oakridge-residents-to-get-100-each-citys-forensic/UkHjPFGrD025hn4j9eKPOQ.cspx
Any living, man, woman or child who lived in the corporate city limits of Oakridge in October 2011 can submit an application to collect the $100 per person. The money should be given out in July 2012. The episode will be featured on the network in September 2012.
With the plan in place, Oakridge City Hall now also features a sign on the front door stating that city staff will no longer help people with inquiries and questions about the money distribution.