Out of the running: Silverton Mayor Kyle Palmer won’t seek re-election

February 2022 Posted in Briefs, Community, News

By James Day

Kyle Palmer, who has been a fixture in Silverton community affairs for most of this century, is retiring from the political arena.

Palmer, who is midway through his second full term as mayor, announced Jan. 30 via social media that he is retiring from elected office at the end of this term. Palmer also answered questions from Our Town and his responses for this story are a combination of those two sources.

“After spending quite a few weeks considering when the right time might be to confirm what my closest friends have known for a long time, it’s with a heavy heart that I announce my retirement from elected service at the end of this year, which is also the end of my current term as mayor of this amazing city,” Palmer said.

Palmer served for eight years on the City Council, lost bids for mayor in 2010 and 2012, returned to the council in 2014 and was elected mayor by his fellow council members in 2017 after then-mayor Rick Lewis left to take Vic Gilliam’s spot in the Oregon Legislature.

Palmer was returned to the mayoral office by the voters in 2018 and 2020, but he said he had no intentions of a “permanent” political career.

“Right from the start, I made a promise to myself, and to my wife Julie, that the most I would ask this community for would be two additional terms, which I deeply appreciate the voters of Silverton granting to me, in 2018, and in 2020,” he wrote.

“The truth is I am absolutely not a politician, don’t enjoy campaigns and elections, and in my core, have always believed that everyone has an expiration date – a time when the body, the process, the staff, and the voters of the city are best served by new ideas, and new perspectives.”

Palmer grew up in a neighborhood that included two former mayors, Willis Dunagan and John Middlemiss, and he noted that his mother also was active in civic affairs.

“I (also) watched a lot of giants in our community – Chuck White, Judy Schmidt, Stu Rasmussen, and Ken Hector to name a few – work tirelessly for their visions of Silverton. I had a childhood here that was magical by any measure and I always knew that I had some paying back to do. We’ll never be square, but I’ll always be trying.”

Looking forward Palmer said “there are definitely things I will be curious about, and I’ll be available to anyone who may need help, but mostly I’ll do my best to stay out of the council and new mayor’s way. I have always valued our relationship with the school district, 100% support SACA and Sheltering Silverton, and want to see them all, as well as the YMCA, find permanent homes.

Over the years, Palmer said, the commitment his official duties required produced strains on his family life.

“My two boys were in junior high when I was first elected, and are now in their 30s,” he said. “My grandchildren will be nine and seven this year and my next door niece and nephew will be three and eight this year. I’ve long had 2023 marked on the calendar as the year that I stop missing activities. I’ll only have one chance to be there for the making of so many memories.”

Palmer also said that he is frustrated by the divisiveness and challenges of modern politics.

“Regardless of whom this community selects to serve us as our next mayor, and next members of City Council (not to mention school board members), I hope we can all take a moment to remember that we are all just your neighbors. Decent people that you may or may not agree with, but people nevertheless. While I’m not even sure what it would take to hurt or offend me anymore, that’s not something I’m necessarily proud of, and I’ve seen many good people who would make terrific representatives shy away from those opportunities because of how casually some will treat an elected official as just a figurehead and not as a person.

“It costs absolutely nothing to be kind and decent and I hope that can characterize the general election of 2022,
at least in Silverton.”


Age: 55

Hometown: Silverton, graduated Silverton High 1984

College: Chemeketa Community College, also a licensed certified veterinary technician

Career path: Evans Valley Stables, Aumsville Animal Clinic, Silver Creek Animal Clinic, Lake Grove Animal Hospital, Pacific Northwest Veterinary Consulting.

Current position: Hospital manager at Salem Animal Hospital, managing a staff of 12 veterinarians and 40 support personnel.

Of note: Palmer is executive director of Northwest Equine Practitioners Association and has written and blogged on veterinary issues since 2010.

Political office: Elected to the Silverton City Council in 2004 and 2008, lost bids for mayor in 2010 and 2012, re-elected to council in 2014, named mayor in 2017 when Rick Lewis moved to the Legislature, re-elected as mayor in 2018 and 2020.

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