Jaimie Fender might be new to the mayor’s chair in the King City City Council Chambers, but she is hardly new to city government.
She and her husband Chris moved into their new home in Edgewater in 2012, and she was busy for a few years, working as an attorney and giving birth to their sons in 2013 and 2015. In 2016 Fender came to a City Council meeting to propose holding a citywide Fourth of July celebration. Before that time, the King City Civic Association held an annual golf cart parade and Edgewater held a separate parade consisting of walkers, strollers, bicycles and tricycles.
After getting approval from the city, the KCCA and the Edgewater Homeowners Association Board, Fender put her organizational skills to use, got sponsors and permits, and created a parade with hundreds of participants and vehicles, and yes, strollers and tricycles. The July 2016 parade started at the KCCA Clubhouse and ended up in King City Community Park, continuing every year until Covid-19 hit.
That led Fender to create the King City Community Foundation, a nonprofit philanthropic organization to work with the local government, civic associations and residents to bring together the city’s diverse populations to enhance and preserve their quality of life.
“Being involved with the foundation got me working with the City Council members and others,” Fender said. “Then there was an opening on the City Council in 2017, and I applied and was appointed. I ran for my own seat in 2018 and was elected, and later was elected council president. I am running again in 2022.”
In King City, voters elect the seven-person council, and every other year, councilors choose a mayor for a two-year term from among themselves. Former Mayor Ken Gibson resigned effective Dec. 31, 2021, with one year left in his term, and at the Jan. 19 council meeting, the council elected Fender mayor and Micah Paulsen council president.
At the meeting, Fender said, “Thank you for your confidence in me to serve as mayor. It’s been no secret for the last five years that someday I wanted to serve this city I love as mayor. Thank you.”
During his last year in office, Gibson made a point to mentor Fender for the leadership position and took her to many of the meetings he attended with county and city officials and other civic and business leaders.
“I have a calling to do this,” Fender said. “I love committee work, collaboration and spearheading ideas through to fruition. I’ve always been a joiner.”
That trait started back in middle school, when she was her school’s liaison to the Eugene (Oregon) School District Board. Fender’s family moved to Bull Mountain when she was in high school, and she graduated from Tualatin High School. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a double degree in French and Architecture, then lived and worked abroad, primarily in Paris and London, for almost 10 years and also earned her law degree in England.
For decades the King City council was made up of members who were age 55-plus until younger residents in Edgewater started participating in city government. Now the majority of the council is made up of Edgewater residents, and for the first time in the city’s history, there are more women than men serving.
“But it is imperative that we don’t lose sight of our older age group,” Fender said. “There are lots of issues that are important to that community, and as King City grows, we can’t forget where we came from or abandon that demographic.”
She has ambitious plans that include requesting a large park funding package from the Legislature for improvements to Community Park facilities, including more access to the Willamette River with an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant pathway and dock. And Fender wants to work to acquire funding for street improvements.
“I also want to make myself available once a month, at the same time every month, to the citizens,” Fender said. “I think that type of engagement is important. I’m hoping to get the City Council members to be available on a rotating basis once a month too, and maybe the police chief could do fireside chats. Last summer was difficult as a city, and one big take-away was that people didn’t feel heard. I am committed to ensuring that I am available.
“I also see a great need and a great opportunity to increase volunteerism. We have a city filled with passion and expertise in different fields, but they don’t know how or where to get involved. We have a small city staff, and there are lots of opportunities for the residents to get engaged and volunteer. I would like to start a Community Advisory Committee to increase community engage-ment.”
She added, “The world is our oyster.”