Councilor Sarah Spoon Declines to Read Proclamation ‘in Solidarity with Trans Community’

May is a busy time of year for the city of Canby, as they work to finalize and ultimately approve the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. But it’s also a busy time for proclamations. Most Canby City Council meetings have one or two, but this first one in May had six: National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive Day, National Small Business Week, Poppy Days in Canby, Walk and Bike Challenge Month, Water Safety Month and Historic Preservation Month.

Seeing as how there also happens to be six city councilors, Mayor Brian Hodson (who normally reads the proclamations) asked each councilor to read one for him, something he has done in the past when an unusual number of proclamations shows up on the agenda. However, one councilor, Sarah Spoon, declined to participate this time, asking Councilor Shawn Varwig to read the food drive proclamation in her stead.

She made clear that this was not because she had anything against the National Association of Letter Carriers or The Canby Center (which the food drive benefits), but was related to a “process issue” she has with proclamations in general.

The city of Canby reads somewhere around two dozen proclamations every year, most of them annual proclamations coinciding with state and national observances like Women’s History Month. Many of them predate Mayor Hodson and were something he inherited from previous administrations, though he does maintain discretion over what proclamations he presents and signs — something he sees as being part of his authority in setting the agenda for City Council meetings.

In responding to a question from citizen Carol Kramer last week, Mayor Hodson explained the criteria he has used in determining whether to approve a request for a new proclamation from the public or a city councilor.

The city’s proclamation process has become the subject of greater scrutiny in recent weeks, after Mayor Hodson’s decision in March to deny a proclamation recognizing the transgender community.

The decision was made privately, but become public later when several citizens who had heard about the request chose to speak out on the matter, opening up a discussion that went into much greater depth the following meeting.

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