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Exiting stage left

Former Keizer City Councilors (L to R) Jim Taylor, Lore Christopher and Joe Egli pose at the retirement bash thrown in their honor last Saturday, Jan. 17. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Former Keizer City Councilors (L to R) Jim Taylor, Lore Christopher and Joe Egli pose at the retirement bash thrown in their honor last Saturday, Jan. 17. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

When Jim Taylor and Lore Christopher joined the Keizer City Council, the Keizer Civic Center was only a dream.

Last Saturday night, Taylor and Christopher formally said goodbye to public office during an event at the civic center. Christopher had served as Keizer’s mayor for 14 years, while Taylor was on the council for 12 years.

Also honored at the event was Joe Egli, who served on council for four years and also emceed the event.

Each of the three gave speeches, mixed in with thoughts from several others including new mayor Cathy Clark, who spoke early but had to leave for another event.

Egli recalled Richard Walsh asking him to run for council in 2010. Egli did so and won.

“I appreciate your faith in me and this opportunity,” Egli said. “Every one of us loves Keizer. It’s about making the best decisions we can. We love our city.”

Egli referenced having more hair in the past and joked that played a role in him not running again last year.

“I still have some hair left after four years. Look at Taylor,” Egli said, pointing to the bald former councilor. “He ran for 12 years.”

Walsh was among those speaking, along with fellow former councilors Mike Gaynor and Jacque Moir, who gave an in-depth look at Keizer’s history. Marion County Commissioner Sam Brentano also spoke, recalling his first introduction to Christopher.

Gaynor told several fishing stories about Taylor, including a time when Taylor drew him a map of a river.

“I get out there and nothing on the map was correct,” Gaynor said. “Then the wind picked up and the map got flipped over. I was looking at the mirror image and the map was right on the money.”

Walsh was a little childish in talking about Christopher – in that he likened her to Horton in the Dr. Seuss children’s book Horton Hears a Who.

“Keizer Station was my first encounter after I joined the council,” Walsh said. “I see people with tar and pitchforks. Everyone hates the idea. Businesses on River Road hate it, neighbors hate it. Who likes it? Lore said there are other voices, the silent people no one else hears. She was just like Horton, who can hear the specks of dust. Keizer was Lore’s Whoville…You have to pay attention to the Whoville residents, not just the ones that want to destroy the flower.”

Walsh pointed to a way Christopher and Taylor – and councilors as a whole – are alike.

“People don’t appreciate that Lore and the councilors don’t get paid to do it,” Walsh said. “They get praise but they also get badmouthed. They took the abuse but rose above it and stayed strong. Jim and Lore are both that way. It’s about what’s best for the community.”

Taylor, who quoted Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo during his final council meeting, this time quoted another great philosopher – musician Jerry Garcia.

“What a long, strange trip it’s been,” Taylor said.

Well-known for his love of fishing as well as Oregon State University, Taylor put on a hat and mentioned how he’d been politically correct for 12 years. He then put the hat on backwards.

“Now, after 12 years, I don’t have to be politically correct,” Taylor said with a grin. “When the hat’s on backwards, I’m not politically correct.”

As such, Taylor announced for the third time he’d like to be picked as the Republican nominee for vice president of the United States. He referenced 2008 candidate Sarah Palin – whom he described as looking “cute” with glasses on – and her infamous quote about being to see the “evil empire” of Russia from her porch in Alaska.

“When I climb my roof and look south I can just about see the evil empire – Eugene,” Taylor said.

Taylor figured he had a way to guarantee the vote in Keizer.

“I make my promise: If I get to be vice president, I will bring the vice presidential library to Keizer,” Taylor joked. “To my friends I fish with, the U.S. Secret Service will give us two miles each way of space to fish by ourselves.”

Taylor also noted Keizer’s leadership is in good hands.

“The city will go on well without me and Lore,” he said. “Lore, you’re always going to be madam mayor.”

Christopher’s son Evan paid homage to Taylor.

“These were my heroes growing up,” Evan said of councilors. “I have known Jim Taylor forever. When I was 10, it was Jim’s fault my mom got home at 11:30 p.m. I learned from Jim how to mow lawns. Jim is a character, to say the least.”

Evan then talked about his mom.

“Having my mom in this position reminded me that democracy is very much alive in local government,” he said. “Public service very much means something. People are able to get something done and do right by their communities. It’s just rolling up your sleeves, working together and getting a job done because it’s the right thing to do and because you care about the people you’re doing it for.

“She was a full-time employee, she was a full-time mayor, she was a full-time mother,” Evan added later. “She is an incredible example and I am immensely proud to be related to her and to have learned so much from her. Thank you so much and I love you.”

Appropriately, madam mayor Christopher got the last word. She thanked family members, including husband Ron.

“My sweet, long suffering, dear and handsome husband,” she said. “Not one time did he say in 14 years, ‘I don’t want to go.’ He was always there to support me…I love you Ron. You will get lucky later.”

Christopher mentioned her son will be going to law school.

“The pride is just beginning to grow, but I’ve always been proud of him,” she said.

Christopher mentioned her mom, who passed away in 2011.

“There wasn’t a tighter bond with my kids than with my mom,” she said. “All of those people put your mind at ease and give you confidence so that you can go forth and help the people you’re sworn to serve.”

Christopher then talked about her role in leading Keizer.

“It’s been my joy to be the face of Keizer for 14 years,” she said. “None of us do any of this alone. It’s been a great time to be the mayor of Keizer. I love taking the credit, but it wasn’t me. I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

Christopher then revealed a story about Egli.

“At the worst time in my life, Joe lifted me up,” she said. “My mom had just died of ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), and we had a renter who did $23,000 in damage to the house we owned. Joe came alongside and said if there’s anything I can do, I will. He said I will paint your house for you, inside and out. That was a gift of love like I’ve never received before. It shows that people who serve this city are real people.”