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Pendleton City Council president Neil Brown to retire after two terms

Three other incumbents — John Brenne, McKennon McDonald and Jake Cambier — have all filed for re-election
Antonio Sierra

East Oregonian

Published on January 10, 2018 7:21PM

Last changed on January 10, 2018 10:10PM

Neil Brown

Neil Brown

John Brenne

John Brenne

Jake Cambier

Jake Cambier

McKennon McDonald

McKennon McDonald

Pendleton City Council president Neil Brown said Wednesday he won’t seek re-election in 2018.

“I think two terms is appropriate,” Brown said. “I think we need some new blood.”

He said now that he is now semi-retired and downsizing his business, NWB Sales, he’s dedicating more of his time toward traveling.

Brown encouraged residents of Ward 3, which includes McKay Creek, Southgate and Tutuilla Road, to jump into the race to replace him. Brown said he has talked with some people about the prospect, but he’s “shooting blanks” so far.

The other three council incumbents whose seats are up for election — John Brenne in Ward 1, McKennon McDonald in Ward 2 and Jake Cambier in an at-large position — have filed their campaign paperwork, according to city recorder Andrea Denton.

No challengers have filed, and the deadline is March 6.

Brown was a former Pendleton planning commissioner who ran unopposed to win his first term in 2010, turning in his filing paperwork just minutes before the deadline. Brown did not face any opposition in 2014 either, easily winning a second term.

While Brown is leaving, the council’s newest incumbent is aiming to stay another four years.

Appointed in 2016 to fill the remainder of former at-large councilor Al Plute’s term, Cambier said he’s just starting to get up to speed on the city’s responsibilities.

Cambier said he wants to continue to support the council’s goals and priorities, adding that he and his colleagues have “good chemistry.”

A retired doctor and a former Pendleton School Board member, Cambier said this would likely be his last term in office if he won election to his at-large seat, which covers the entirety of Pendleton.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is John Brenne, a 40-year council veteran looking to win his 11th term. Brenne’s longevity isn’t merely unusual for Pendleton, but puts him in the upper echelon of prolonged American political careers.

Elected in 1978, if Brenne served in the U.S. House of Representatives instead of the city council, he would be tied for the second longest active tenure after Rep. Don Young of Alaska.

The executive director of the Pendleton Foster Grandparents program, Brenne represents a ward that includes the downtown area, South Hill and Riverside.

Brenne hasn’t faced a contested election since 2002. He did not return requests for comment.

McDonald is running for a second term representing a ward that covers North Hill, Westgate and the airport.

The Helix School teacher won her first term in 2014, beating former City Councilor Bryan Branstetter for the open seat. McDonald won the only competitive election in 2014, the other three incumbents running unopposed.

McDonald did not return a request for comment.

In the 2016 election, several retirements and a pre-election resignation set up the most crowded collection of Pendleton City Council races in the 21st century, with no candidates running unopposed.

While many city council incumbents lack opponents during their re-election campaign, beating a seated councilor isn’t completely uncommon. In 2010, Plute, the former at-large councilor, beat incumbent Steve Taylor to claim his seat.

Any prospective candidates for all four seats up for election can file declaration paperwork with the city recorder through March 6. Election Day for Pendleton municipal elections is May 15. If no candidate gets 50 percent, the top two candidates will meet again in a runoff election on Nov. 6.


Contact Antonio Sierra at asierra@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.


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