Willamina's new mayor has big aspirations
However, it was the West Valley logging community of Willamina where Adams and his wife, Elizabeth, chose to settle down to raise a family.
“I love the people,” said Adams, who was sworn in Thursday night as Willamina’s new mayor. “It’s the wild westy out here. It’s alive out here.”
Adams, 27, ran unopposed in November. He received 437 votes from Polk and Yamhill county residents nonetheless, suggesting solid support.
He was serving a four-year city council term when he decided to run for mayor.
Curtis Grubbs resigned as mayor in March 2009. Colleagues chose Council President Vern Mosser as a replacement.
After completing Grubbs’ term in December 2010, Mosser served a two-year term in his own right. But he let it be known he was done.
“He told me he didn’t intend on running again,” Adams said.
He said he respected Mosser for the job he did and for the commitment he had made to the community. That, he said, made Mosser “a good mayor to watch.”
Adams is most likely the youngest mayor in Oregon.
“The average age of a mayor in Oregon is at least 50, but that’s probably on the low side,” said League of Oregon Cities spokesperson Kevin Toon. He said Lea Charles Vickery of Athena was 41 and Jeremy Ferguson of Milwaukie 39, and they were the youngest others he could think of.
However, there have been younger officeholders in the past.
Kyle Corbin was elected mayor of Union at 18 and Jason Hale of Madras at 24. Both served two-year terms beginning in 2007. Hale’s replacement, Melanie Widmer, was 34 when elected in 2008 and continues to serve as mayor of Madras.
Serving as a councilor and mayor in Willamina are just the beginning for Adams, though. He has big political aspirations.
“I intend to be president one day,” he said. And to be clear, he means president of the United States.
“I’m serious,” he said. “Since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be president.”
Adams’ uncle, Republican Brady Adams, served in the Oregon Senate from 1977 to 2001, including two terms as Senate president. He represented District 25, then District 2, from Southern Oregon’s Jackson and Josephine Counties.
Adams said he would also like to serve in the Oregon Senate.
“This is a way to kick it off,” he said. “We have a plan, a process.”
As mayor, Adams’ top priorities are seeing city audits get caught up and smoothing some sewer and water issues. He said the city’s ability to secure grant money hinges on continued progress on the audits.
“The city has a great staff, and they’re sorting it all out,” he said. “We’re moving on that. I’m happy with what is going on.”
The city vacated its library years ago and moved into a building diagonally across from city hall.
Librarians Melissa Hansen and Denise Willms run a smooth operation, but have lobbied for a new library for years. They have the community’s backing, too.
While Adams endorses the idea, he believes there are infrastructure issues still looming larger for the city. He also knows new libraries are expensive to build, even with the help of grant money.
Adams, who founded Adams General Construction about 18 months ago, is making his living as a contractor. He said he’s finding plenty of work to go around, and is taking steps to incorporate the business.
One of his passions is surfing. He’s considered an accomplished ocean and river surfer.
An October 2008 Oregonian story, headlined “River surfing in Oregon: Be a pioneer or a wipeout,” featured Adams and Elijah Mack. It noted:
“They rode the South Yamhill River last December, when floods brought the state of Oregon to declare a state of emergency and a wave they dubbed “Needles” to an unprecedented height. They dodged refrigerators and trees floating through the muddy water to surf, and they’ve both ridden the Tubesteak Wave at the Skookumchuck Narrows in Canada. Surrounded by whirlpools that can suck down boats, it’s thought to be the most dangerous standing wave in the world.
“It’s almost an addiction,” Adams said.
He’s been surfing since he was 10, and says he can recall the first wave he rode as clear as day. Pacific City is one of his favorite ocean surfing locales.
When Adams was sworn in by City Recorder Sue Hollis, his wife and 2-year-old son, Brookshire, were in the audience. So were his parents, Brent Adams and Barbara Pfaltzgraff, along with various friends and relatives.
Adams said he was appreciative of all the support.
Re-elected Councilors Rita Baller and Ila Skyberg also took the oath, as did newcomer Gary Hill. Meanwhile, Allan Bramall, who failed in his November re-election bid, was appointed to replace Randall Long, who resigned.
Adams’ former council seat will have to be filled by appointment as well.
The city will accept applications for the next 30 days. They may be picked up at city hall.