By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
David McKane didn’t intend to be a Keizer City Councilor.
He didn’t originally plan to run for mayor, either.
But he did both things, successfully running for council Position 1 in 2004 and unsuccessfully for mayor against incumbent Lore Christopher this year.
“When I started in 2004, I was an unknown,” McKane said over breakfast last week. “There were some issues with my neighborhood, so I came to council meetings. A friend said, ‘You spend so much time there, you should run.’”
And so he did.
The story wasn’t much different in 2012.
“It was not a planned thing,” McKane said with a smile. “I started being approached by so many people. I felt it was important for the city to have a choice after 10 years. I don’t regret it at all. I met a lot of new people. My only regret is the damage it caused to my relationship with the rest of the council. With one exception, I couldn’t get the time of day from councilors after I filed.”
While that has been disappointing, the bigger disappointment for McKane as he prepares to leave the council on Jan. 7 is the relationship between councilors and the public.
“I’m still disappointed we haven’t repaired the relationship with the public,” McKane said. “We could have done a better job.”
That echoes a concern McKane has expressed before, most notably during his campaign for mayor during this past year.
He’s afraid of the issue getting worse.
“I think it will be a huge issue in the next few years,” said McKane, a longtime employee of the Oregon Department of Transportation in Salem. “If you get things done in spite of the taxpayer, there will be an adversarial relationship. It’s like with the fire district and 9-1-1 fees. They were failed by 80 percent of the people. When we had hearings, all we heard was, ‘Are you crazy?’ Then we did it anyway.”
For McKane, the main thing for city leaders is to actively hear what taxpayers have to say.
“You have to at least be respectful and listen,” he said. “That’s my free advice to councilors. The concern I’ve had is the perception the council gives to the public. You’ve got to give the public a minute to speak.The city has lost a lot of opportunities to make improvements there. Eight years ago, we didn’t have the problem.”
Issues came to a boil for McKane two years ago, when he disagreed with plans to pass a 9-1-1 cell phone fee.
“It wasn’t going to work well,” McKane said. “The mayor told me I should have voted for it. I resigned when Lore called me out. After she called me out like that, there was no way I could work with the council or city staff again.”
The resignation was never accepted and McKane stayed on the council.
As he leaves council, McKane also ponders what the future holds for Keizer.
“I don’t think Keizer will change significantly,” McKane said. “There will be slow growth and more citizens, hopefully more small businesses. In the next 10 to 20 years, we’ll still be a bedroom community for Salem and Portland. That’s what Keizer is. If we keep that in mind, it will benefit everybody.
“Maybe there will be a few more businesses on River Road,” he added. “I hope Keizer Station fills up because there’s an opportunity there. Some people don’t like progress but you do what’s best for the masses and mitigate the downside.”