Monday, May 20, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
June 26, 2012
FALLS CITY -- City Councilor Henry Hughes has decided not to seek a second term on the Falls City City Council.
Also a poet and English professor at Western Oregon University, Hughes said he's stepping down at the end of his current term to focus on writing his first novel.
"I really want to commit to writing," he said last week. "I'm planning to write an entirely different kind of book. That's going to require a lot of time."
Hughes was appointed to a vacant position on the council in April 2010. He will serve the rest of his term ending Dec. 31. His seat, along with two other council spots and the mayor's position, is up for election this fall.
Hughes said it wasn't an easy decision to step away from serving on the council.
"I'm probably enjoying it more than ever," Hughes said. "And I feel I'm useful to the council."
He said he didn't always feel that way.
"It was brutal when I first started," Hughes recalled of his first months serving. "The crowd (at council meetings) was hostile. It was stressful."
Hughes said over the last two years, though, that atmosphere has improved. He believes the council hiring professional staff for City Hall and adding more structure to council meetings is partly responsible for the shift.
"I feel positive about the future," Hughes said, adding hiring strong administrators has eliminated what he considered dysfunction at City Hall. "I think a lot of those things have disappeared. I see a lot of integrity and honesty in City Hall."
Hughes still has a few more things he hopes to accomplish before he leaves the council, not the least of which is helping select a new city administrator.
He said choosing a candidate will be a delicate process that needs to balance the city's grass-roots approach to solving problems and finding someone to navigate the increasingly complex world of city governance. He said the council struggled justifying hiring a full-time administrator with Falls City's small population, but he believes it is the right move.
"I'm really looking forward to that," Hughes said of selecting a candidate. "We're no longer just a little village that can get away with just a mayor and city clerk."
He said he feels confident about the direction the city is going and hopes to see a strong field of candidates run for the three council seats up for election this fall.
He added that his time on the council was an enriching experience.
Hughes said he wants to serve on the council again in the future.
"I learned a lot and I think I did a little good," he said. "I feel good about it."