Dan Holladay remembered for lifetime of Oregon City public service

Dan Holladay, who made history by being the first mayor in Oregon City to be recalled from office, was remembered for his long history of public service after his death at age 63 on March 15.

Holladay succumbed to various health ailments related to Parkinson’s disease that had been troubling him for years. He started to have to use a cane in 2020 and had been confined to a wheelchair for at least the last year of his life.

As a former electrician, Holladay brought an understanding of the construction industry and ability to read blueprints to the city commission at a time when the city was working on library and police station projects.

Holladay’s death also provided an opportunity for friends and citizens to recognize him for his various accomplishments and contributions before he became mayor in 2015.

Holladay had a long track-record in local politics that included service on the Oregon City School Board, chairman of the Willamette Falls Media Center Board, the Clackamas County Coordinating Committee and the South Fork Water Board.

Clackamas County-based environmentalist Jerry Herrmann said he came to know Holladay over many issues of shared interest.

“Dan had the art of developing relationships, the art that we call politics,” Herrmann said. “Dan included everyone, whether he liked their opinions or not, and most importantly he got things done.”

Tom Geil, a former Oregon City planning commissioner, said that he didn’t always agree with Holladay but nevertheless always respected him.

“Dan didn’t pull punches or mince words, but he always advocated for what he thought was right for the city,” Geil said.

Oregon City Planning Commissioner Karla Laws said that Holladay listened more than he got credit for.

“He allowed residents to make comments (all 3 minutes) and he definitely tried to accommodate behind the scenes,” Laws said.

Holladay served as a city commissioner in the 1990s and as mayor starting in January 2015. He was reelected in 2018 and served until voters recalled him from office in November 2020.

City Commissioner Adam Marl served as chief petitioner for the campaign to recall Holladay.

“My disagreements with Dan are what prompted my involvement in local government, and while those disagreements were fierce, I never lost sight of the fact that he had given a tremendous amount of time serving our community in various capacities. Dan is no longer in pain, but my prayers are with Betty and the rest of his family as they mourn this loss,” Marl said.

Laws said that Holladay’s “strong stature” led to residents assigning him resentment and blame as mayor.

“Over time I learned he took responsibility for other’s decisions that he should not of had to take on,” she said. “We may have not always agreed, but what you see is what you got. I can appreciate that he was at least forthcoming in what he thought. May he rest in peace and godspeed.”

Holladay was the chief petitioner of a 1994 ballot measure to require a vote if Oregon City wants to raise water rates by more than 3%. Then he championed a successful follow-up measure in 2013 by saying it wasn’t the intent of his initiative to force the city to rollback its water rates in 2014.

Holladay openly clashed with Oregon City taxing districts like TriMet and Clackamas County.

After running unsuccessfully against County Commissioner Jim Bernard in 2010, Holladay led a failed recall attempt against Bernard in 2012. But as co-chief petitioner for referring the ordinance to voters, Holladay had scored a defeat against Bernard in 2011 by arguing for the repeal of Clackamas County’s annual $5 vehicle registration fee increase to help fund the Sellwood Bridge in Multnomah County.

“It wasn’t just me; we have all county voters to thank for stopping what would have been a precedent-setting event in Oregon to tax someone for a project outside of their jurisdiction,” Holladay said in 2014. “Besides Jim Bernard, I’ve had a pretty good relationship with other members of the county board over the years.”

A 1979 Oregon City High School graduate, Holladay served in the U.S. Army from 1981-86 in Korea and Germany. In the late 1980s, he owned a security company, and he helped run a T-shirt business in the late 2010s.

Holladay is survived by three children, his ex-wife, Teresa Ann Holladay; and his wife, former City Commissioner Betty Mumm.

A memorial service for Holladay is scheduled for 1 p.m. on April 5 at Abernethy Chapel.

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