My name is Jeanne Robinson. Forty-six years ago, I moved from Portland to my home in what is now Damascus, Oregon. When making my purchase, I was under the impression that I would be living on Deep Creek Road in Damascus, only to learn after moving in that the road name had changed to 232nd Drive, and it was considered part of Boring, Oregon.
After nearly three decades, I received a telephone call from Dee Wescott, at that time unknown to me. He introduced himself, told of his family’s pioneer involvement in the community, and shared with me his great dream – that Damascus would become Oregon’s newest city. Initially, I was lukewarm to the idea, but this voice on the phone was excited. He shared his vision for the City of Damascus with me, I asked scads of questions, and about 20 minutes later, I was sold!
I welcomed our new city, and I was proud to share my new address with my friends and business associates. I smiled every time I drove into our city center and saw the beautiful Damascus signs. I loved it when our city hall opened. I followed our elections and always voted with great thought. I loved our Damascus police car. I loved everything about being part of the City of Damascus.
Yes, I realized that there was some trouble brewing within the community, and there seemed to be some very angry folks. It was quickly apparent that these folks, rather than working to correct problems, were dead set on ending our city. At the time, I couldn’t understand why they were so angry and nasty. I watched as slick and professionally prepared mailings came to my home with increasing regularity decrying the very existence of our city and urging everyone to vote for disincorporation.
Now, by nature, I am a believer in not throwing out the baby with the bath water. We had accomplished much in becoming a city, and fixing problems is what government is SUPPOSED to do. That is why, when the city asked for citizen volunteers to serve on a Charter Review Committee in late 2015, I volunteered. I remember coming to those meetings, sitting around a table with other citizens and some of the council members, as we reviewed the charter, section by section, and discussed proposals for correcting things that weren’t working as well as intended. During those weeks, on a few occasions, we left the building and passed through a crowd of angry picketers. Can you imagine? Here we were, citizens, being picketed as we worked to make their city a better place for them. It was unfathomable to me that our work would be viewed as something that was worthy of protest.
After several weeks our work was completed, and charter amendments were prepared for the ballot in the May 2016 election. Unfortunately, that ballot also contained what has now been found to have been an unlawful measure to disincorporate our city, and you all know what has happened since then.
I cannot express my joy at learning that James De Young, now our appointed Mayor, had succeeded in winning his appeal against this unlawful action, and our lovely City of Damascus was back! Once I learned that council meetings were taking place, I began attending and offering my support to the Mayor and council members. To my absolute honor, I was asked to fill a vacancy on the City Council, and last week I was sworn in to Position 4.
I come before you today to let you know that I am one of a large and ever-growing group of Damascus citizens that want our city to continue. You have heard many of the angry, loud voices from the past, some of whom are no longer Damascus residents as they have long-since annexed their property into Happy Valley. Some of you, by your actions, have apparently accepted that their intense desire to destroy our city is universal among our citizens. And, with disregard for the Appellate Court decision, you have apparently been advised to give no support to our community as we move forward. In spite of your lack of assistance, we have submitted required documents, restored our city government following the rules established in our City Charter and in accordance with Oregon’s Home Rule laws, and have created a city web site to share government and community activities with our city residents.
Respectfully, we have a quieter, far more polite, and extremely fervent group of citizens that do not agree with the loud protesters. Most of us now realize the true agenda that spurred many of the Disincorporate Damascus movement. We do not want to become Happy Valley East. We ARE Damascus, and we are here to stay!