CRESWELL – Amy Knudsen resigned on Friday, Aug. 13, the second mayor in less than a year to do so amid heightened community tensions.

Knudsen was elected in November 2020, after winning 55% of the vote against Kevin Prociw, the council president who will serve as the acting mayor until Monday’s city council meeting. 

“​​The council will work together as a whole to select an interim mayor,” Prociw said. 

On Monday, council can choose to “appoint from within” or choose to open up that application process to citizens, city manager Michelle Amberg said. 

Knudsen’s resignation is a result of “undue stress” that has been inflicted upon herself and her family in “recent events,” she wrote in a resignation letter to city staff and council. 

Events that have unfolded in the City in recent weeks include:

* A July 4 parade without permits that involved a recognized hate group, garnering national attention and community criticism;

* Knudsen admitted that her husband honked the horn at parade participants on July 4 – some of them on horseback, causing a public outcry from her critics. Additionally at that parade, Knudsen said a man approached her car during the altercation, threatening to kill her;

* Two people were fined for organizing the July 4 parade, including Creswell’s Julie Bivens and Cottage Grove’s Chris Tough, prompting a caravan protest through town on July 24. Some participants, including Bivens, gathered in front Knudsen’s home, where she said people called her a communist and made demands of her over a megaphone; 

* After a city council meeting, councilor JoRell Medina posted an “open letter” to Knudsen on an anti-government website, calling on her to abandon the law by dropping the fines the police issued. Medina also called for disciplinary action for the city manager, saying her mindset was “dangerous”; 

* Knudsen issued a public statement on July 27 in an effort to dispel misinformation and rebuke accusations of her conduct. She told The Chronicle it did not get the reaction she’d hoped for; 

* At her last council meeting, the council rejected the city’s proposed gas tax, pointing to the measure’s predicted failure at the ballot box because of “community unrest” and “mistrust” from the Fourth of July events and its aftermath. A community Town Hall was suggested as a means to deal with the turmoil during the last council meeting.

Knudsen won’t be helping lead that effort.

“My position as an elected official is having a negative impact on (my family) and I need to place our family first in my priorities,” Knudsen said in the resignation letter. She did not return messages from The Chronicle for comment. 

Knudsen was in local government for five years, having served as a councilor and a council president before being elected mayor. 

While she did not give a “State of the City” address, something previous mayors and the current mayors of Springfield and Cottage Grove did, she did participate in a pre-election candidate Q&A with The Chronicle. She said then during her campaign that training councilors and attracting more businesses – specifically more eateries – were her immediate goals. 

She also said in that interview that she intended to reopen the discussion around equity and inclusion – a resolution to reassert that Creswell was an inclusive city that denounces racism. It was tabled last year amid community pushback – with reactions so extreme that it led to the resignation of former mayor Richard Zettervall last September. It hasn’t been discussed since. 

 “I now feel unable to represent the city council and the Creswell citizens due to all the negativity that the equity and inclusion conversation has created … It should not be partisan or controversial in any way and should be something that every citizen of our country should aspire to every day,” Zettervall wrote in his resignation letter. 

Amberg declined further comment. 

TIMELINE, 2020-21: Chronology and key events

2020

July 4: No-permit parade held in streets of Creswell.

July 15: Amy Knudsen submits an application for mayor.

July 27: City Council meeting features discussion of “equity resolution.”

Aug. 24: Equity resolution drafted.

Sept. 14: City Council nixes resolution

Sept. 28: Council realizes it mistakenly kills equity resolution, “tabling” it in the absence of city manager. 

Sept. 30: Mayor Zettervall resigns.

Oct. 12: Council considers next steps.

Nov. 1: BLM rally and counter-protest in downtown Creswell.

Nov. 2: Knudsen, JoRell Medina, and Jeri Hutchinson elected to City Council. Knudsen won 55% of the vote against Prociw.

Nov. 12: Knudsen formally takes Mayor position; Prociw elected council president.

2021

Feb. 22: City begins July 4 event discussions

March 22: City continues July 4 discussions

April 26: City deems fireworks, parade “unlikely.”

May 12: Medina backs discussion of anti-government resolution. Creswell city attorney said it’s “not best practice.”

July 4: No-permit parade held through downtown Creswell. ... Mayor and husband have incident with horses, parade-goers.

July 12: Crowd packs City Council meeting.

July 19: Citations given out to parade organizers.

July 24: No-permit “parade and protest” held through downtown Creswell … Crowd gathers in front of mayor’s home.

July 26: Knudsen absent from city council meeting; later that evening, Medina publishes online letter, calling for mayor to waive parade fines, states city manager should resign.

July 29: Knudsen makes first public statement.

Aug. 2: Knudsen said it’s time to move on, “do the work.”

Aug. 9: Council considers Town Hall to discuss community tensions. 

Aug. 13: Knudsen resigns.