Lily Morgan will resign from Oregon House for city manager job
Morgan, R-Grants Pass, has served in the Legislature since 2021
State Rep Lily Morgan, R-Grants Pass, will resign to become city manager of Gold Hill. (Julia Shumway/Oregon Capital Chronicle)
State Rep. Lily Morgan, R-Grants Pass, will resign from the Legislature to manage a small southern Oregon city.
The Gold Hill City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to hire Morgan as its new city manager, and she plans to resign from the state House ahead of her Dec. 4 start date. The Grants Pass Daily Courier first reported Morgan’s upcoming resignation.
Morgan has served in the House since 2021, focusing on public safety and behavioral health. She previously served as a Grants Pass city councilor and Josephine County commissioner.
“I believe that I have been able to speak up for my community and what’s affecting us in a way that shows the heart of rural Oregon, that addresses the hard issues we’re facing but also how wonderful our people are,” she told the Capital Chronicle. “Even as partisan and divided as we are, there’s a way to do this respectfully while still standing for your values.”
She told the Capital Chronicle she didn’t seek the Gold Hill job until a recruiter reached out to her. She’ll oversee a staff of four serving the former mining town with aout 1,300 residents.
But Morgan said she had aspirations of someday becoming a city manager years ago, when she served on the Grants Pass City Council and hired a new city manager. Morgan went back to graduate school at Southern Oregon University and earned a master’s degree in management because of that experience, but then her career took her in a different direction.
Her most exciting moment as a legislator, Morgan told a group of legislative staff who crowded into her office to surprise her with a cake between meetings on Wednesday, was during her first year in office when she championed a wide-ranging law that regulated artificially derived cannabinoids, like Delta 8, that are intoxicating but weren’t regulated the way conventional marijuana is.
One colleague, Democratic Rep. Pam Marsh of Ashland, described Morgan as one of the foremost experts on cannabis in the state, and Morgan said it’s hard to walk away from her legislative work on cannabis. She also has mixed feelings about stepping away because she’s the only lawmaker who worked in community corrections, as a parole and probation officer in Josephine County. That experience helping people who had been convicted or incarcerated return to society gave her a unique perspective on criminal justice issues, she said.
Morgan said she has talked to other Republicans, including the former president of the Grants Pass Chamber of Commerce, about running for election or putting their names in for an appointment. After she resigns, Republican precinct committee persons – the elected local party officials who vote on party business, including nominating replacements for candidates or elected officials who don’t finish their terms – will pick three to five candidates and the Josephine County Commission will choose someone from that list to finish Morgan’s term.
One Republican, real estate broker Dwayne Yunker, planned to challenge Morgan in the Republican primary and already filed for office. Two Democrats, Taco Bell dishwasher Dustin Watkins and landscaper Mark Seligman, are also running. The district is considered safe for Republicans.
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