Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis announced his resignation on Facebook tonight, effective June 17 at 9 am.
The unexpected announcement came in the middle of the pandemic and in the midst of an uprising over police accountability, both of which played into Bemis' decision to resign, he writes on Facebook. Bemis has served for 18 years on the Gresham City Council, and 16 as mayor.
For his now open seat, Bemis floated the name of a black businessman, Travis Stovall.
Bemis writes that for many years he has consistently encouraged Stovall, a highly active community member, to run for city council. Stovall has served on various committees, has represented the city on the TriMet board and started a business.
Bemis mentioned Portland Police Chief Jami Resch's decision to step down from her role to allow someone else to take her place who she believes is a better fit for the time.
"While I have pushed very hard for public safety reform and new approaches," Bemis wrote, "this is a time in our nation's history when we all have to ask how we can best help push the critical causes of change and justice."
Bemis also cited the hardships the pandemic has inflicted on his family's restaurant business and his need to focus on that.
"At the current moment, facing a pandemic, a rising, powerful and necessary social justice movement, and the city's budget woes, all while trying to keep my business afloat, is not tenable," Bemis writes. "While it is the most difficult decision I've ever faced, the current day demands that I must fight for my business to provide for my family."
Bemis, a Republican, has been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate in years past, and his resignation announcement leaves open the idea of running for public office in the future.
"Service to others remains my chief objective, and this action, in this moment, is not the end of my work in public service," he writes.
Bemis' resignation is not the only high-profile departure from Gresham city government this month. The city announced Police Chief Robin Sells' retirement five days ago, effective the day it was announced.
Earlier today, Gresham's twice-weekly newspaper, The Outlook, first reported on a letter from Gresham's deputy city manager, Corey Falls, that alleged subtle but widespread racism throughout city government.