Former City Councilor Joel Hirsch passed away January 7 in an auto wreck outside of Albany. Hirsch served four terms representing Ward 6, from 2008 – 2016.
The accident occurred at approximately 10:21 P.M. on Riverside Drive. An investigation by the Linn County Sheriff’s Office revealed that “For unknown reasons, [Hirsch] crossed out of his lane, through the opposing lane of travel, off the west side shoulder, struck a tree head-on and spun back up on the roadway.” They confirmed that Hirsch was wearing a seatbelt and his airbags did engage in the crash.
Hirsch, the sole occupant of the vehicle, was pronounced deceased at the scene and taken to AAsum-Dufour Funeral Home in Albany. He was 61 years old.
During his tenure on the Corvallis City Council, Hirsch was heavily involved in the development of the city’s current Livability Code, a process that lasted from 2012 – 2015.
In 2014, he voiced support for an initiative to construct a hotel downtown. Controversially, the plan would have used city funds to finance the construction of a parking garage for said hotel, and thus did not come to pass. However, that plan laid the groundwork for the construction of the Courtyard by Marriott on Southwest 1st Street.
In his last year on the City Council, Hirsch served on the sustainable budget task force, before he lost his seat to Nancy Wyse in 2016. He made an unsuccessful bid for a seat on the Benton County Board of Commissioners in 2018, before moving to Albany the year after.
His four terms on the council were marked by passionate support of both arts and culture in the city, as well as local businesses.