Councilor cites work, family in decision
By JASON COX Of the Keizertimes
Councilor Richard Walsh has said he won’t run for re-election to the Keizer City Council in a surprise announcement made just three weeks before the filing deadline.
He endorsed Joe Egli, who would be a first-term councilor, to run for his seat. (See related story.)
In a letter to Keizerites, Walsh cited a need to “devote more time to my family and law practice.” He is entering the last year of his second full term, but has actually been on the council for 10 years.
Walsh told the Keizertimes he would remain in Keizer – and that he’s still got goals set for the next few months.
“I’m looking forward to working on acquiring the additional acreage at Keizer Rapids Park, working toward medical facilities and employment opportunities in (Keizer Station’s) Area B, I’m looking forward to bringing employment opportunities to Area C and master planning both.”
Walsh, who owns a law firm in Keizer, was appointed in August 2000 to fill the remaining term of Councilor Craig Campbell, who had resigned.
In the intervening years Walsh played a large role in planning Keizer Station and was on council while the civic center was planned and ultimately built.
He served on more than a dozen boards, committees, task forces and commissions, and is a registered adult leader for the Boy Scouts of America’s Troop 121.
He’s also on St. Edward Catholic Church’s administrative council and volunteers there regularly, and is a former treasurer of Keizer Elementary’s Parent Teacher Club.
But it’s Keizer Rapids Park that he is most proud of, and what Mayor Lore Christopher will remember his time on the council for.
“We would not have that park without Richard Walsh,” Christopher said. “And he was tenacious. We all thought he was crazy.”
“We gave him $300,000 in parks systems development charges … and through his personal commitment and work along with city staff, he got $3 million,” Christopher added.
The mayor cited his “strength in bringing people together” as key to the project’s success.
“He got people together to commit to common interests,” Christopher said, including recently when he organized local sports groups to come together in supporting a facilities scheduling system. “Rich is wonderful at doing that.”
Councilor Cathy Clark said Walsh “has made a big difference to our city.
“He’s been a tremendous leader and visionary,” Clark said. “He works tirelessly, giving of himself – very above and beyond. His leadership has made such a huge difference for Keizer. He will be missed, but he won’t be gone.”
As an attorney, Christopher said, Walsh often offered a “second opinion” of sorts on legal matters.
“He’s 360 degrees of analysis,” Christopher said. “Sometimes you think, ‘Come on, let’s cut to the chase!’ But Richard has always been absolutely dogged about it … He’s able to look forward and say, yes there’s a small percentage of possibility X could happen in 20 years, but I want you to be aware.”
She said the community was “very fortunate Richard Walsh is not moving. He’s a committed father, a committed church member and committed Keizer citizen. He will stay engaged when his time allows him to do so.”
Recognizing his work on the Keizer Library Task Forces, including a four-year stint as chair, Walsh was recently appointed to the Keizer Community Library’s advisory board. In his remaining time on council, Walsh wants to find a way to provide stable funding to the volunteer-run library via donations and grants.
He said Keizer Station, as contentious as talks were at times, is a source of pride, as is the River Road Renaissance project.
“The most important thing about River Road Renaissance is we kept a promise,” Walsh said. “To me, I look at that as a piece of Keizer Station.
“When we started it in 2000, that was basically the time we were at a crossroads and had to decide which way to go … Did we want to just forget about what they called the Chemawa Activity Center, there was a lot of discussion about just discarding it altogether and letting individual land owners (go) every man for himself, or do we have a plan … It has been a major accomplishment for everyone on the Council.”
And he wouldn’t rule out future shots at elected office.
“I see that I need to refocus some of my energy on the short term, and then as I’m able I would like to become more involved again,” Walsh said. “Whether that’s in the form of working on a community sports program as a citizen, or as an elected official, that’s for the future to decide.
“I’ll miss being on Council. I’ll certainly miss it. But you have to keep your priorities straight,” he said. “It takes precious time with your family and work, and I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family and law practice.”
He thanked his wife, children, city staff, fellow city councilors and staff, and “all the volunteers.
“There’s just so many people; I couldn’t possibly list them without leaving people out,” he said. “I just want everyone to know how grateful I am … I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to serve on Council, and I’m not going anywhere. I’m still going to be a proud citizen of Keizer. It’s really just a refocus of priorities rather than a wholesale change of anything.”
Says he’s ready for the job
Joe Egli was likely to run for Keizer City Council at some point in the future.
He just didn’t realize, until recently, it would be so soon.
“I looked at who was running this year … they were all good candidates and I didn’t want to disrupt any flow that they had,” Egli said. “I was going to do it in a couple of years.”
Egli, who was elected by Keizer Chamber of Commerce members to be its president this year, said Councilor Richard Walsh informed him last week of his decision not to seek another four-year term in office.
He’s already garnered endorsements from Walsh and Mayor Lore Christopher.
He filed paperwork to seek the seat on Tuesday, Aug. 3. He has exactly three weeks from that date to turn in enough signatures to make the ballot.
“My goal is to just listen to our citizens and do what we feel is best for Keizer,” Egli said. “I want to represent my demographics as well as I can. I have two kids, I live and work in this community, I have friends in this community, and I want to continue to improve it without giving up the hometown feel that makes us who we are – the pride, spirit and volunteerism.”
He works for R. Bauer Insurance.