While Mayor Ken Gibson’s public service career in King City has been rewarding for him over the past 13 years, he decided the time was right to retire and announced his departure in November 2021.
Gibson only had previous public service experience as a commissioner in California before answering the call to serve his new community.
Before Gibson even left his demanding career leading United Airlines’ jet engine department at San Francisco International Airport, he and his wife Ramona decided to look for a retirement spot. They chose the new King City community of Edgewater on the Tualatin and moved in after their home was completed in 2006.
Gibson joked that he blamed his wife for his long stint in city government in King City. She was reading the Regal Courier and told him there were openings on the City Council. “She said I should do it because ‘you like to run your mouth,’” he said.
Gibson was appointed to the council, then ran for a seat and won, but he retired in 2010 because the opportunity came up to work at his retirement “dream job” as a golf marshal at Langdon Farms Golf Club in Aurora.
But the King City City Council beckoned him back again when vacancies occurred. Gibson was appointed to the council again, successfully ran again and became mayor.
In King City, voters elect the seven-member council, and the councilors choose a mayor from among themselves every other January.
Gibson, who has been elected mayor three times, said, “I believe the purest form of government is at the city level where you can serve your community.”
He went on to say, “I have been part of many accomplishments. It is important to us as the City Council to serve the residents. It is extremely gratifying. When (former City Manager) Dave (Wells) announced his retirement, we as a council wanted to do some different things. We had the opportunity to grow and didn’t want to waste it. We didn’t want to stay as we were.
“There was land out there (from King City to Roy Rogers Road between Beef Bend Road and the Tualatin River). If we didn’t develop it, someone else would. It was our land to develop.”
Applying to Metro to expand a city’s urban growth boundary is a major process, “and many people thought little King City couldn’t pull it off,” Gibson said.
The council had hired Mike Weston to replace Wells as city manager, and “we needed the energy of Mike,” Gibson said. “Once Mike was aware of the possibilities, we went for it. I would give Mike a lot of the credit for our success in adding to our urban growth boundary. And anytime there are changes, you will have opposition.
“Other accomplishments are improving 131st Avenue and the work on the sports fields in Community Park. It is extremely satisfying to have done all that. The park is well used by the community. People are really, really happy to have it.”
Gibson said the council always wants to hear what the residents have to say, and he added, “Our responsibility is to provide as much information as we can and why we are making the decisions we do.”
One of those big decisions was building a new City Hall. “I used to call (the old City Hall) a dungeon,” Gibson said. “That is the reason I pushed really hard, to improve the working conditions of the staff. The old City Hall was smelly, dirty and moldy, and we wanted to provide them with a good working space. We basically gutted the old space, and the staff worked out of trailers for over a year. It was an amazing accomplishment on their part.”
Always thinking of the future, Gibson, whose term ends Dec. 31, 2022, said he wanted to ensure a smooth transition for the City Council when he left. “I knew I wouldn’t run in 2022, so what benefit would it be for me to stay on one more year?” he asked. “I met with (City Council President) Jaimie (Fender) and Mike (Weston) about what to do. Four of the seven council seats are open next November, and it’s good to appoint people from the Planning Commission because that ensures a smooth transition. I encourage people to apply for the Planning Commission.”
Both Gibson and City Councilor Dave Platt, who also has one year left on his term, decided to announce their resignations in November to pave the way for two people to be appointed to fill the last year of their terms.
Gibson expects the City Council to appoint Fender as mayor, which will further ensure a seamless transition.
Gibson also is pleased that King City is now recognized as an important entity among the west-side cities and “has a seat at the table,” with the mayors meeting frequently to discuss common issues and concerns.
With his tenure over, Gibson said, “It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve. It has been fruitful and rewarding, and I could not have asked for a better team or city to serve.
“I also could not have asked for a better staff and Planning Commission. We didn’t always agree but we always got along. I truly appreciate the police department, Mike Weston’s efforts and a forward-thinking City Council.”
Gibson’s last day in office was Dec. 31.
A Letter from Mayor Ken Gibson
It has been my honor to serve the people of King City as Councilor, Council President and Mayor for the past thirteen years.
I strongly feel that all forms of government should be open to well-orchestrated secession plans that ultimately ensure a smooth transition from one leader to the next.
I am pleased to say that in January of 2022, I am retiring from public service. I am equally pleased to announce that I will be seceded by Council President Jaimie Fender. The people of King City are so fortunate to have an outstanding City Council, Planning Commission and Staff to lead us into the future.
I ask you, the people of King City, to respect and embrace these dedicated women and men who are volunteering their time as councilors, commissioners, and committee members to help make our city the best it can be.
I am confident that with Jaimie’s leadership as Mayor, the tough decisions ahead will be made in the best interests of current and future residents of King City.
I want to thank every King City staff member and police officer, led by City Manager Mike Weston and Police Chief Ernie Happala for their unwavering commitment to serving the people of King City – you are the best! I also want to thank all councilors, commissioners, and committee members for being a great team of volunteers who are always working together to benefit the people of King City and, of course, I thank the people of King City for thirteen years of support.
Most of all, I thank Ramona, my wife, for her full support throughout this thirteen-year journey.
Mayor Ken Gibson