Canby Mayor Will Consider Changes to City Proclamations

Canby Mayor Brian Hodson has asked a group of three city councilors to take a look at all aspects of the city’s proclamation practices, given the increased community interest into such matters after his decision to deny a request for a proclamation recognizing transgender people last month.

Mayor Hodson said the review is needed for a number of reasons. There are no directions for how proclamations should be done in the city charter. It’s something that evolved organically, and has been passed down from mayor to mayor over the years.

The list of two dozen or so proclamations that the city issues each year is also largely something Hodson inherited from his predecessor, Randy Carson, with just a few that have been added since he first took office in 2012.

Hodson said he will ask the working group to look at how proclamations are done in other cities and jurisdictions, and to consider a more formal means by which proclamation requests could be submitted by the public — along with suggested criteria for evaluating and approving these requests.

Also on the table is the possibility of changing the way that proclamations are presented, or doing away with them altogether.

There are, no doubt, some people in Canby who would support nixing the proclamations. It’s an old practice, something that many other cities have already abandoned and — let’s be honest — they don’t really “do” anything. Meaning, proclamations are not like resolutions or ordinances. They do not change city policy or otherwise impact the lives of everyday citizens in any discernible way.

And yet, the proclamations do have meaning, especially for the groups they honor and recognize. Just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a ceremony in which a proclamation by Gov. Kate Brown was presented in honor of Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. The simple gesture brought tears to the eyes of more than one of the Vietnam-era combat veterans in attendance, and was deeply moving to me as well.

Grappling with the question of who, exactly, the proclamations are “for” (the community as a whole, or the specific groups or organizations they recognize) will be one of the biggest tasks facing the working group.

Hodson says it’s not something he expects them to accomplish overnight, but he hopes to have some meaningful results to consider by this fall, or the end of the year at the very latest. In the meantime, the proclamations will continue pretty much as they have been, with plenty already on the docket for the coming months.

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