By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Roland Herrera knows the question will keep coming up.
Herrera announced this week he is running for a spot on the Keizer City Council.
If your reaction to that is “Roland Herrera? Isn’t that the guy the city parted ways with a couple of years ago?” Herrera understands.
The longtime Public Works employee resigned from the City of Keizer in the fall of 2011, after working at the city for nearly 20 years. Many letters of support for Herrera came to the Keizertimes at the time. Herrera’s lawsuit against C&M Victor Company, operator of the Keizer Little Ceasar’s where a disagreement cost Herrera his job, according to him, is set to be heard in court next month.
Those familiar with the backstory may assume his run for council now – he also applied for the seat vacated by Ken LeDuc last year, which went to Kim Freeman – is a way to extract revenge on city leaders.
Not even close, Herrera told the Keizertimes.
“People that know me know that’s not me,” he said. “The next day after my resignation from the city, I started a new project in parks, working with the city. I never skipped a beat with my volunteering. I was fortunate to meet with a lot of good people.
“My experience working for the city was very positive,” Herrera added. “I learned all the streets and neighborhoods in Keizer. I worked on most of the parks and can tell you the size of them. The technical things I learned will be helpful. I love to be part of the community. Everyone knows how much I care about Keizer.”
Keizer’s 2009 First Citizen repeatedly referred to advice learned from his dad about taking the high ground and also pointed to nuggets of wisdom from wife Loyvia.
“Like my wife says, look at the positive side,” Herrera said. “I don’t look back, I look forward. I love Keizer, man. I’m always thinking of ways to help. I always make decisions based on what’s best for the greater good of the community.”
While believing there are still some city employees who are “dishonest,” the longtime little league volunteer who moved with his family to Keizer in 1965 looks back at his time working for the city with fondness.
“I have relations with everybody,” said Herrera, who noted many still call him ‘coach’ due to his sports involvement. “Because of my background with the city, I met 50 people a day for 20 years. That helped me get a good feel for the community. I’ve always listened to that pulse. I’m proud of what I’ve done for Keizer, my accomplishments. They used to call me Mr. Keizer. I used to hate it, but I kind of like it now. ”
Herrera, 61, isn’t sure yet what seat he will run for. Mayor Lore Christopher has already announced she won’t be running again, with current councilor Cathy Clark declaring her candidacy for that position.
Former councilor Brandon Smith has announced he’ll be running for the seat currently held by Jim Taylor, who is not running again. Others have yet to indicate their plans.
“I would probably go for Cathy’s seat,” Herrera said.
In particular Herrera, a father of four and grandfather of four, wants to engage the Latino and youth in Keizer.
“Folks are not engaged right now,” he said. “A lot of times they can’t relate. I want to engage more people in the process. I’m excited about the young people in Keizer. I will pay my dues and do my homework. In Keizer I’ve seen a lot of changes over 35 years. It’s changed in the sense that a lot of people don’t know how to get involved.”
Herrera recently jointed the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, as well as the Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association board.