The City of Salem is mourning the loss of former Mayor Mike Swaim, 76, who died December 17, 2019, from complications of surgery.
Mayor Swaim served three terms, from January 1997 to December 2002.
"Mike's passing is very sad and unexpected," said current Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett. "He was a vigorous leader as mayor of Salem and widely admired in the community."
Mayor Swaim moved to Salem from his native Southern California with his wife, Kellie, and their family. He argued against the kind of land development in Salem that he saw as detrimental to the quality of life in California.
Among Salem City Council accomplishments while Mayor Swaim was in office is the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) individuals in protections of the city's Human Rights Ordinance. The ordinance prohibits discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity. During council debates on the issue, he called the ordinance "a matter of basic human dignity and civil rights."
Salem was five years ahead of Oregon in implementing similar protections, well ahead of most of the country, and on the same timeline as big cities like Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Mayor Swaim also worked to make Riverfront Park a reality after decades of planning.
Sources: salemis.org, Salem Statesman Journal (September 5, 2014, December 31, 2019)