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Springfield City Council appoints Damien Pitts, an Army veteran who's Black, to fill Ward 1 vacancy
Register-Guard - 3/3/2021
The Springfield City Council is about back to full strength — and more diverse.
Councilors on Monday appointed Damien Pitts to fill a seat vacated when the council appointed Sean VanGordon mayor
The council selected Pitts, an academic adviser and diversity initiatives specialist at the University of Oregon, from eight applicants.
Pitts was the only applicant who was among all the councilors' top picks.
He also was one of two candidates who received support from many who used their time speaking during public comment to call for more diversity on the council.
Pitts, an Army veteran who's lived in Springfield for around four years, is Black.
He wrote in his application for the spot that he wants to use his "skills of community building and constructive criticism to serve our community."
"I have a unique background that makes me stand out," he added. "I am an Eagle Scout who served as an interrogator/Korean linguist, and has been in combat twice."
He wrote that he sees the role of a councilor as someone who "must amplify the voice of their constituents," make sure goals reflect community needs, address issues "to the best of their ability" and adapt to change.
Related: Springfield Mayor: Resilience, resourcefulness, renewed commitment key in 2021
Councilors described Pitts as "incredibly refreshing" and a "great asset."
They stressed that all of the candidates were excellent.
"There wasn't a one that just flopped," Councilor Marilee Woodrow said.
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Pitts, though, rose to the top as someone who will bring new background and experience. It also was important to some councilors that he stressed the importance of teamwork.
"I think he does bring amazing perspective and an ability to find the conversation … that we can have," said Councilor Kori Rodley, who has served on a board with Pitts in the past.
VanGordon encouraged the other seven candidates to apply for other city boards and commissions.
Pitts will be officially sworn in at a special City Council meeting Monday night. He will represent Ward 1, which includes northwest Springfield and the Gateway area, through Dec. 31, 2022. Ward 1 includes northwest Springfield and the Gateway area.
Contact city government watchdog Megan Banta at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MeganBanta_1.
This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Springfield City Council appoints Damien Pitts, an Army veteran who's Black, to fill Ward 1 vacancy
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