Pete McCallum announces retirement from the City Council after more than a decade in office

After a long and accomplished professional and civic career with the city of Woodburn and Woodburn School District, Council President Pete McCallum announced last week that he will not seek a fifth term in the November election.

“I have felt a great honor being able to serve in this position since June of 2001, and work with two great mayors, a passionate and dedicated past and present council and what I consider a tremendous staff,” McCallum said, reading from a prepared statement at the April 28 City Council meeting. “We haven’t always agreed, but in the end, I think we’ve done great work for the city of Woodburn.”

McCallum, who retired from the school district in 1998 after more than 30 years as a high school teacher, principal and later, personnel director, said he does not plan on seeking any other elected office.

“I have four grandkids who are very athletic, and I want to be able to be at more of their games,” he said.

In a follow-up interview, he added that he would also like to spend more time with family and travel with his wife.

“I promised my wife and family I wouldn’t run again last time and I broke that promise,” he joked. “So there was no getting away this time.”

He said he will serve out the remainder of his current term, through the end of 2014. Like McCallum, his colleagues on the council seemed to have mixed emotions about seeing him go.

“I’m happy for Pete but sorry for the city,” Councilor Frank Lonergan said. “Pete’s many years of experience with the Woodburn School District has been a huge asset in our policy-making decisions. Pete understands Woodburn better than most, and with his experience and strong leadership qualities, he will be greatly missed and hard to replace.”

Councilor Jim Cox echoed his sentiments.

“It’s going to be a huge loss to the city,” Cox said. “He’s a wealth of information and a very sweet guy to work with. It’s just a big loss; there’s not any other way to put it.”

McCallum’s fellow councilors described him as a passionate civil servant who works well with others, even those with whom he doesn’t always see eye-to-eye.

“Pete will tell you, he and I don’t always agree,” Cox said. “But he’s a great guy to disagree with, in that there are never any hard feelings. We know we’re both working toward the same goal; we just look at things a little differently sometimes.”

McCallum said he had been considering this course of action for months, but had not shared the news with many at City Hall until last week.

“You could have knocked me down with a feather,” Cox said about the announcement.

Mayor Kathy Figley said a number of high-profile capital projects in the city bear McCallum’s fingerprints, either through his work on the council or at the school district.

“The Woodburn High School is certainly his baby,” she said. “Projects like that are a heavy lift to get funded, and he was very involved in its construction.”

He had also been an active promoter in such ventures as the new police headquarters on Mount Hood Avenue and the I-5 interchange project, currently under construction, she said.

“He’s somebody who really tries to think an issue through,” Figley said of McCallum. “If he doesn’t have adequate information, he’ll ask questions until he’s satisfied that he’s making an informed decision. He’s somebody who will not jump into things for political advantage.”

Since 2001, McCallum has represented Ward 3, a district generally located in the northeastern quadrant of the city and encompassing the northernmost portion of the downtown corridor. He believes he’s leaving the ward in good shape, with no shortage of eligible residents who have government and civic experience and who might be interested in running for the seat (filing opens June 4 and closes Aug. 26).

“There are a number of people in Ward 3 that I think could handle this job,” McCallum said.

The terms of Figley, Lonergan and Cox are also expiring this year and their seats will appear on November’s ballot. Asked last week, Lonergan confirmed that he will seek re-election in Ward 5, with Cox (Ward 4) and Figley currently undecided.

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