From the mayor’s desk: Meadow Martell

Last week I attended the Oregon Mayors Association (OMA) Summer Conference in Hood River. Despite the long drive, it was well worth the time and effort. Over 120 mayors from all over Oregon attended. Here are some of the highlights and “ah ha” moments for me.
The first day in Hood River I attended an optional excursion. The mayor of the city of The Dalles and his wife hosted a tour of the unique murals created during the 2022 The Dalles Mural Fest. The mural project took hours of historical research and many months of planning and preparation by volunteers. Fortunately, The Dalles had a connection with the Walldogs. Walldogs are a group of highly skilled sign painters and mural artists from all over the world. Once a year, hundreds of Walldogs volunteer and travel on their own dime to some lucky place. In 2022 they came to The Dalles. Over five days, 230 artists descended on The Dalles and created 15 murals throughout the downtown depicting legends that illustrated their rich cultural history. The tour was an impressive experience.
The conference was not only fun, but also educational and an opportunity to connect and share with other mayors. One of the big issues in discussion was homelessness and how cities of all sizes are attempting to address the major impact this is having on cities. We reviewed the OMA Homeless Proposal and the Governor’s proposal to address homelessness and how they differ. The Director of the League of Oregon Cities did an excellent presentation on how State and Federal Court decisions have impacted Oregon cities in the last year. Some of the other sessions I attended included Oregon’s Property Tax System, which is extremely complicated and challenging, Developing Relationships with State leaders to Better Our Communities, and a session on the very real revenue limitations city governments face in Oregon.
Every year the OMA has a silent auction to raise conference scholarship money. Mayors from all over the state bring gift baskets with items representing their city. It is a highly competitive and lively event! I am proud to say that with the generous help of local merchants and artists, the Cave Junction/Illinois Valley basket was one of the most competitive.
The final event was the presentation of awards for the “If I Were Mayor” contest winners in the elementary, middle school and high school categories. It was moving, inspiring and impressive.