Primmer is Third City Councilor to Enter Race for Hermiston Mayor

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Hermiston City Councilor Doug Primmer recently filed to run for mayor. He was the third of four candidates to file to succeed Mayor Dave Drotzmann. (Photo by Michael Kane)

When Hermiston residents vote to choose a new mayor this year, they will have a growing field of candidates from which to choose.

Hermiston City Council President Doug Primmer jumped into the race last month, following the announced candidacies of fellow councilors Nancy Peterson and Jackie Linton. A fourth candidate, Manuel Salazar, filed a few days ago.

Primmer said, until recently, he had never considered running for mayor. In fact, he was leaning toward not running for re-election to the council in 2024.

“I kind of felt it might be time to let someone else have a voice,” he said Wednesday during an interview at Hermiston City Hall.

(SEE LIST OF ALL 27 MAYORS IN HERMISTON HISTORY)

But then Mayor Dave Drotzmann announced he would not seek re-election in order to run for state Senate. Primmer said friends and constituents began asking him if he was going to run for mayor.

“I wasn’t going to run against Dave,” Primmer said. “But after he announced he wasn’t running, I started thinking about it.” He saw a bumper sticker that he called “a defining moment” that convinced him to run.

“It said, ‘The world is run by those who show up.’ It resonated with me,” he said. “It’s like, if you don’t weigh in, you don’t wrestle.”

Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan, left, shakes hands with Primmer in December. Primmer was recognized for 40 years of service with the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office. (Photo by Karen Primmer)

Primmer has been on the council since 2012. He was part of an effort that year to recall Mayor Bob Severson and four city councilors – Jackie Myers, Frank Harkenrider, Joe Harn and Rod Hardin. All five survived the recall votes. Primmer and others behind the recall effort believed the council was not responsive to widespread complaints about then-Police Chief Dan Coulombe.

“I was not happy with what was going on,” Primmer said. “The police department was having a lot of issues personnel-wise from the top down. The council stood behind the chief. That pushed me and others to run for council.”

Primmer, 60, was born in Seattle and moved to Hermiston with his family in 1977. He and his wife, Karen, have 5 grown children, all from previous marriages. He retired after a 31-year career with the Oregon Department of Corrections. He was recently recognized for 40 years of service with the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office as a rescue diver and reserve patrol officer. He said he believes he has the leadership skills to serve as mayor and isn’t afraid to take difficult stands on important issues. He pointed to his vote against adopting the city’s budget last year.

“That was a really, really tough vote to make,” he said. “To vote no to adding three new police officers was very hard, but we didn’t have the money. I’m not afraid to say no.”

He said leaders can’t be effective by trying to please everyone.

“I’m not an eloquent speaker,” Primmer said. “I’m not a politician. But I’ve been in leadership positions throughout my career and my view is, if there’s a problem, fix it.”

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