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Urban renewal makes November ballot, again

Signature recount overseen by Secretary of State's office
by: SUBMITTED PHOTO Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall

After about a month of doubt and wrangling, voters will certainly get to decide in November whether they'd like to vote on all county urban renewal decisions or on such decisions only if they reside within the affected urban renewal district.

Voters could reject any future ballot approval, but if both urban renewal measures pass, the one with the most votes will prevail.

In a recount of some petition sheets last week, the Clackamas County Election's Office found seven more signatures than the 9,378 required on the citizen-initiated countywide measure. Oregon's Secretary of State's Office oversaw the two-hour process of reviewing the remaining signatures Sept. 20, after a complaint that the original count had illegitimately verified signatures.

The county election's office stopped counting Aug. 23 when officials thought they had enough valid signature lines for the initiative to qualify for the ballot. County Clerk Sherry Hall said her office would have found more if it kept going, but there seemed no reason to continue working.

'Continuing work would not have changed the outcome of the petition review since it would only add to, rather than subtract from, the number of petition signature lines accepted,' Hall said.

Hall added that there was no political motivation involved whatsoever in the signature review process.

'The Secretary of State and I share the same sense of responsibility to follow the law scrupulously and to ensure a fair election for the people of Clackamas County,' Hall said.

A lawyer for the citizen-initiated Voter Approval of Urban Renewal in Clackamas County scored another victory in court last week by forcing the county to change its ballot title to Plan Area Voter Approval of Urban Renewal in Clackamas County, which asks voters, 'Shall new or substantial amended urban renewal plans require the approval of those voters residing within the plan area boundaries?'

The ballot title had previously been and #8232; Local Voter Approval of Urban Renewal in Clackamas County, asking, ' and #8232;Shall the Clackamas County Code require a local vote on new urban renewal plans and substantial amendment of existing plans?'

Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Steven L. Maurer ruled Sept. 21 that the county's original ballot title didn't 'reasonably identify the subject matter of the measure with sufficient particularity to represent an accurate description of the import of the measure, is potentially confusing and misleading to voters, and therefore cannot be certified.'

The judge's decision is final and can't be appealed.