By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
The way Brandon Smith figured it, he would fulfill his term on the Keizer City Council before making his move.
It didn’t turn out that way.
Staying in Keizer until son Keifer graduates from McNary High School this year?
No, not that either.
Smith is moving to Salem soon – as in, he takes possession of a Salem home March 1 – and thus left the city council this week.
Smith announced the evening of Feb. 10 this week’s meeting would be his last. That indeed happened on Tuesday night (the meeting was a day later than usual due to President’s Day on Monday).
“It has been a genuine honor to serve the citizens of Keizer in various capacities since 2005,” Smith wrote last week. “When I ran for council again in 2014, I had every intention of serving a full term. However, life sometimes throws unexpected and exciting opportunities at us when we least expect them, and doing what’s right for my family will always come first for me.
“I am constantly amazed and inspired by the quantity and quality of people who give of themselves for the betterment of this community,” he added. “To my past and present colleagues on the city council, the many people who serve on citizen advisory committees and the dedicated and driven staff at city hall, I thank you and wish you the best of luck.”
Smith, who moved to Keizer more than 20 years ago, first got involved with city government in early 2005 as a member of the now-defunct Urban Renewal Board. In September 2007 he was appointed to a vacancy on the Keizer City Council. He won his election in 2008. For the 2012 election, he initially decided not to run but decided after the filing deadline to run. He thus ran as a write-in candidate but lost to Ken LeDuc.
Interestingly, LeDuc resigned in 2013 after just a few months on council.
After his initial time on council, Smith was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, serving as chair of that board in 2014.
In the fall of 2014, Smith won an election to re-join the city council. He was also the public relations person for the Big Toy play structure project at Keizer Rapids Park, which was built last June.
Smith and wife Krystal both work at SAIF (State Accident Insurance Fund) Corporation in Salem.
“This was not about any problem or anything being wrong,” Smith said Tuesday. “There’s no family or health thing. This was a good thing. We wanted to move to a downtown urban living situation. We had been talking about it for years. I thought we would do it after my council term was done and after Keifer had graduated. This opportunity came to us. It was a short time frame. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
While happy for the opportunity, Smith noted the downside.
“I’m still disappointed about leaving my term early,” he said. “I don’t like that. I normally wouldn’t give up in the middle of a term for any reason. I believe in fulfilling that commitment to the best of my ability.”
Since the next council meeting is March 7, a few days after he takes possession of the Salem home, Smith said he had to resign this week.
“I need to be able to go at a moment’s notice, when our Keizer house sells,” Smith said. “It was a timing thing. The city charter is very clear, you have to have residency to serve. Plus, this is a good time to make a clean break before the budget sessions start.”
After having to leave his term early, does Smith foresee making up for it by joining the Salem City Council or doing some other form of public service?
“That is always a possibility,” he said. “There are some other things I would like to do, but at the moment I’m not concerned about that. Our lifestyle is changing pretty dramatically. My son is in the process of making a decision on college. That will be a big transition for us, no kids in the house in the fall.”
Smith noted he knows the president of his new neighborhood association (David Dahle) and knows various people on the Salem City Council and the Salem Chamber of Commerce. He might be willing to be active in the neighborhood association, but not much more, at least not at first.
“Anything I do in Salem will be a way’s down the road,” he said. “Work and family are what I will focus on.”
Smith pointed to a few of his top memories of public service in Keizer.
“The dedication of the Keizer Civic Center (in 2009) and the Big Toy are pretty big,” he said. “They’re right at the top. And the year I was chair of the Parks Board we amended the master plan for Keizer Rapids Park. That was a big deal and brought a lot of people in. The civic center was such a huge project.”