Voters OK Oregon’s move to managerial form of government

Oregon town sign

OREGON — Voters chose to change Oregon’s form of government to include a city manager who will be fully responsible for the city’s day-to-day administrative functions.

A proposition was on the midterm general election ballot, for which voting concluded on Nov. 8. According to unofficial results, as of 10 p.m. on Nov. 8, the proposition passed with 675 “yes” votes, or 56.39%; a total of 522 people — or 43.61% of voters — voted against the change.

“I am very pleased it passed,” Mayor Ken Williams said. “It marks the way forward to greater things in the city.”

The new form of government will go into effect following the April 4, 2023, election and after the first meeting of the incoming Oregon City Council, Williams said in a previous interview. Citizens will continue to elect a mayor and four at-large council members who will direct budgets, strategic goals and the city’s vision, make zoning decisions and manage ordinances if the proposition is approved, he said.

On Feb. 23, City Council members voted unanimously to follow an ad hoc committee’s recommendation that the city pursue the council-city manager form of government. Ad hoc committee members were Roger Cain, John Dickson, Rick Bunton, City Commissioner Melanie Cozzi, Chris Martin and Otto Dick.

“I’m thrilled the voters did the research to update our form of government with a professional manager,” said Cain, who chaired the committee.

The process to get here went well, and produced “fruitful debate,” he said.

City Administrator Darin DeHaan could fill the city manager position, but it will be up to the incoming council members to officially hire him. If hired, DeHaan’s title would change, and his job description adjusted to allow him to manage the final 15% of Oregon’s day-to-day administrative operations; he already oversees about 85%.

Because Oregon took that first step with a city administrator, it means citizens won’t see anything different on the front-end, Williams said. All the changes will be behind-the-scenes.

“I am thankful for the group of citizens who dedicated their time and energy toward the change of government,” DeHaan said. “I think we have witnessed the efficiency in which local government can function with a city administrator position over the past few years. I look forward to continuing the great work and vision the city council continues to set as we prepare for the transition to council-manager form of government.”

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner covers Ogle County for the Oregon Republican Reporter, Forreston Journal, Mt. Morris Times and Polo Tri-County Press. She has seven-plus years of experience in journalism and has won numerous awards, including a first place award for investigative reporting from the WNA.