The Albany City Council welcomed its newest member Monday. He is Alex Johnson II, who won the 2018 election in council Ward 2A.
Monday’s occasion was an unusually lengthy work session, the first council meeting of 2019. Johnson took his oath of office last month, on Dec. 11, but on Wednesday, at the first regular meeting of the year, he’ll be sworn in again in a ceremony along with the two council members who were re-elected two months ago: Dick Olsen begins his sixth consecutive four-year term, and Bessie Johnson her fifth.
A Navy veteran, Alex Johnson is in the life insurance business and lives in southwest Albany. He’s also a football and softball official for the Oregon School Activities Association. (With two councilors with the same last name, the first time that’s happened in my experience, it will be necessary to use their first names when referring to them on second mention.)
Alex Johnson succeeds Ray Kopczynski, who retired from the council last week after not running for re-election. As though he hadn’t had enough of these meetings after his time in office, Kopczynski was back Monday, sitting in the audience even though the agenda promised an unusually long session.
The agenda included a scheduled one-hour segment, closed to the public but not reporters, to discuss labor negotiations and a real estate deal. I didn’t want to sit through the whole thing, particularly since the rules prevent reporting on the substance of the closed session, so I left early.
Councilman Rich Kellum told me later that after the closed discussion, the council reconvened in open session and voted to implement its final offer to the AFSCME unit that represents about 180 city employees. For months the parties have been at an impasse in their contract talks.
About the only other thing of interest (to me anyway) during the rest was the advice council members got from City Clerk Mary Dibble on public records. It appears that according to state regulations, even the notes councilors make to themselves during meetings must be handed over to the clerk to be retained. No word, though, on whether that applies to doodles as well. (hh)
This story has been edited to say that Alex Johnson has already taken his oath of office, which I didn’t know when I wrote the first version and relied on the council’s Wednesday agenda, which includes the swearing in of new and re-elected council members.