Activist attorney to run for city council

Ross Day, a Keizer attorney, will seek the council seat being vacated by Councilor Kim Freeman.

CORRECTION 08/05/20: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that attorney Ross Day represented the Oregon Family Council. Day did not represent the Oregon Family Council, but did represent individuals, affiliated with the Protect Marriage Coalition, who challenged a ballot titles that involved same sex marriage in 2013.

Keizer attorney Ross Day is no stranger to politics, but expected openings on the Keizer City Council prompted him to run for an elected position for the first time. 

Day filed to run for Councilor Kim Freeman’s seat on the council earlier this week. Freeman decided not to run for re-election.

“My number one issue is consistency,” Day said. “Councilor Freeman has done a phenomenal job for us and I want to continue that pattern of fiscal responsibility and strengthening the sense of community.”

He would work to protect the Keizer business community and expand the availability of housing options if voters put him on council dais in January 2021. Day moved his law firm, Day Law Group, from Portland to Keizer in 2018, but he’s been a resident of the city much longer. 

Until this point, Day’s political efforts have focused on statewide issues. He is a past executive director of Common Sense for Oregon, which works to reduce government regulation. Day co-authored Measure 37, which voters overwhelmingly approved in 2004, permitting property owners to seek damages when the value of their land is reduced by environmental or land use regulations. In 2013, Day represented individuals, affiliated with the Protect Marriage Coalition, who challenged a ballot titles that involved same sex marriage in 2013. Most recently, he agreed to represent the owner of a Salem-based salon that defied statewide closure mandates in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Despite involvement at higher levels of politics, Day said the only position he’s seriously considered running for is city council. Local decisions can have some of the biggest impacts, Day said, and then cited a story told by political commentator Chris Matthews from the time Matthews worked for Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, “A woman came up to O’Neill during a political event and said she wanted to talk about a pothole in front of her home. O’Neill told her she needed to go talk to a city councilor and the lady responded, ‘I understand that, but I didn’t want to start that high.’”

Given Keizer’s current trajectory, any new city councilors are likely to be faced with questions regarding how the city can or should grow. 

“We have to be responsible about (growth),” Day said. “If we increase the land supply, it can have a detrimental effect on existing property values. We also have to have the resources in place to handle new development.”

Day said lessons learned in state politics are just as applicable to local government. 

“I’ve discovered that there’s always a way to get something done, but you have to spend enough time thinking about it and be a good listener,” he said.