Village backers accept defeat
- Marcus Hathcock
- Sandy Post - News
Boring's leaders aim to scrap the village and start over
The chief petitioners of the proposed village of Boring have conceded defeat in the recent town hall elections, but they want to work with their village-skeptic counterparts to discuss how the unincorporated community should proceed.
After counting ballots from three different polling times Monday night, July 24, elections officials counted 302 votes in favor of the village of Boring and 332 against.
That tally included 69 provisional ballots, which were cast by individuals who were unable to prove their eligibility to vote. Staff members of county-hired consulting firm Cogan Owens Cogan were in the process of verifying the ballots, which they said could take weeks.
'I … request that we ask that the provisional ballots not be verified,' wrote Les Otto, Boring Community Planning Organization chairman and one of the village's chief petitioners. 'Whatever the outcome of that verification, I believe that the message we heard from our community is that they are nearly evenly split on this decision. Any further delay in declaring the village vote outcome will only serve to create more mistrust and frustration in our community.'
Since the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners approved formation of the village in March, residents turned out in large numbers to the half-dozen organizational meetings, many protesting the proposed designation.
Many rumors circulated throughout the community, including the untrue allegations that the village would have power to unilaterally impose taxes and that it would have zoning authority. The most vocal critics, however, stated that the whole process went on with minimal public knowledge and consent.
Proponents said the quasi-governmental structure - which aims to give unincorporated communities greater self-governance by acting as an agency of the county - was Boring's answer to mounting threats from the Metro regional government, the city of Damascus and development.
Otto said that despite the village's defeat, the community is ripe for discussion on how to prepare itself for the future, and that the group of 11 candidates for the now-irrelevant village board would best be suited to lead that discussion.
'We have a very engaged community at this point,' Otto said in his written proposal, 'and regardless of where you stood on the village issue, we should not let this opportunity slip away from us and seek input from the community.'
The group of 11 - made up of pro-village and anti-village citizens - would arrive at a common solution to Boring's governance issues. The informal panel would have no decision-making power but would provide recommendations to the community, Otto said.
He suggested that a neutral third party moderate the group's discussions. He recommended former Boring Fire District Chief Dan O'Dell and Marcia Sinclair, a public relations specialist from Damascus. 'A second alternative would be to use a mediator modeled after the Stafford discussions for village and hamlet supporters,' he wrote.
The group likely would develop an official report to the county declaring the village defeated and explore the possibility of hamlet governance for Boring - which is different from a village in that taxation is not possible. 'We heard a number of times that folks would prefer that option for Boring,' Otto wrote.
Otto says his fellow petitioners and pro-village board candidates are supportive of his proposal, but they are waiting to hear from the village-skeptic candidates.
'We want to find out what they have to say and determine from there what we're going to do,' Otto said. 'Whether or not we agreed or where we stood on the village issue, we're beyond that now, and we've got to figure out what's next. Life hasn't changed around us - there are still things going on that we need to respond to.'
Wayne Strickland - vice chairman of the Concerned Citizens of the Boring CPO and an outspoken critic of the village formation process - said he and the concerned citizens are interested in pursuing Otto's proposal, although there are some precautions they'd like to take.
Specifically, Strickland said the group of 11 board candidates is uneven, with pro-village individuals outnumbering the village-skeptics. He said he was also concerned with the fact that by using the board candidates it could look like the now-defunct village is somehow involved.
He also said he'd rather have a representative cross-section of the community involved with the talks.
'We want to find a way to get the major types of areas and people represented,' Strickland said. 'We don't want to go down the road again of making decisions in a presumptuous manner, speaking for people when we really don't know what they want.'
Before the concerned citizens group officially responds to Otto's proposal, the group will consult its attorney, which is handling a potential lawsuit against Clackamas County for alleged civil rights violations that occurred during the village process.
While there are many details still to be worked out, there's something on which both sides of the village debate agree: It's time to get past the polarization that has come from the village.
'We want to get past all this and figure out what's best for the future of Boring,' Strickland said. 'I have no doubt we can work this out.'
'I believe that we are all able to put this behind us and work for what we all believed in, putting our community first,' Otto wrote in his proposal. 'We have made a difference in our community already; let's not ignore all the hard work each of us has accomplished in this process. I am convinced we can move forward with a cooperative spirit and accomplish even more.'