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A quartet of candidates seek countys Position 4

A look at the candidates for Position 4 on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners.

A look at the candidates for Position 4 on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners.

Charlotte Lehan

Lehan has been the mayor of Wilsonville for nearly 12 years. Having served on the city council for nearly six years and many budget committees, other committees, and task forces, both locally and regionally before that. She is currently the representative for the small cities of Clackamas County on the Metro Policy Advisory Committee.

She has an associate degree in Early Childhood Education from Portland Community College, a bachelor's degree in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena and is a graduate of the Pacific Program for State, Local Government, and Nonprofit Executives from the University of Oregon.

Why are you running for commissioner?

Growth management will continue to be a major issue for Clackamas County for the next few decades. Maintaining high standards for infrastructure, environmental protection, and livability while managing rapid growth is something I have successful experience with as Wilsonville's mayor and would be my priority at the county as well.

The county's communities often have radically different needs. How do you ensure residents from each of the different communities - from Estacada to Lake Oswego to Wilsonville - get fair and equal representation?

I have long been a defender of Home Rule, testifying at the Oregon legislature for the rights of local communities to determine their own course as much as possible. Clackamas County can reach out to cities through the Clackamas County Coordinating Committee and to rural areas through the hamlets and villages. Having five commissioners elected by the full county means every commissioner must answer to every community rather than focus only on their own area.

The loss of federal timber payments has left a $12 million hole in the county's budget. How do you expand the tax base and create more family-wage jobs?

I would pursue at least partial replacement of the timber payments to cover the very real costs of the huge amount of federal land in the county. Expansion of the property tax base occurs when properties develop, but also when underutilized properties re-develop. Being able to attract the quality businesses that provide family-wage jobs and increase the tax base means providing the infrastructure that business needs, and the quality of life that attracts excellent employees.

What options does the county have if the library levy fails in November?

The county is on a path to divest itself of direct library operations due to financial constraints. The phase out over five years might be adjusted a bit but is not likely to alter the end result. Without the library district, responsibility for libraries will shift entirely to the cities and the disparity across the county is likely to increase.

What would you say is the biggest issue facing the county today?

The biggest issue facing Clackamas County is the challenge of providing adequate infrastructure - sewer, water, and roads - to serve an increasing population of residents and businesses. This includes maintenance of existing systems as well as providing new facilities to accommodate the projected growth without resulting in a declining quality of life for existing residents and businesses.

Anything you want to say?

Moving to five commissioners presents an opportunity for Clackamas County to be much more effective in the region. After 12 years as mayor of Wilsonville I have the necessary experience, not just in my own local government, but in representing cities throughout the county and working with many regional leaders.

Matthew Green-Hite

Mattew Green-Hite, a certified public accountant with an MBA in finance, is chairman of the Gladstone Planning Commission and has served on committees that worked on more than 20 annual budgets for government agencies and school districts. He's also served on the Tri-City Sewer District Master Planning Committee and the North Clackamas Water Commission Budget Committee.

Green-Hite counts sewer and water infrastructure and fair representation for rural areas as two of his key issues.

Why are you running for Commissioner?

The five-member commission allows members to discuss issues without violating public meeting laws.

We need commissioners with a political background, but who are not politicians; allowing increased knowledge among commissioners and a more equal footing with staff. The Washington County Commission has both a CPA and an attorney.

The county's communities often have radically different needs. How do you ensure residents from each of the different communities get fair and equal representation?

First, in one to two years the commission will review whether it should be districted. I will support this option. Secondly, most of the viable candidates for election are from city councils. My experience has been with districts that encompass urban and rural areas (sewer districts, water districts, school districts), multiple cities, or at a state level - working with the legislature on bills for methamphetamine, finance, or land use.

The loss of federal timber payments has left a $12 million hold in the county's budget. How do you expand the tax base and create more family-wage jobs?

My opponent has stopped legislation that would allow industrially zoned land inside of the UGB - but outside of the city - to be used for industrial uses. This is a prime example of city-versus-rural representation; and a bill I would have backed, as long as infrastructure needs were met. Also, in the recent past, the commission has allowed the rezoning of industrial land to commercial land for retail use (low wages), against staff recommendations.

What options does the county have if the library levy fails in November?

Ideally, we would withdraw the library issue and propose it simultaneously with Portland's library levy, which will generate many dollars in promotional advertising.

The second option would be to eliminate or alter the five-year phase out. Originally, a library tax existed, and was rolled into the general fund. This is now part of our permanent tax base; and we have an obligation to work with the libraries to generate new stable funding.

What would you say is the biggest issue facing the county today?

During the last election, we agreed it was transportation, so we elected Lynn Peterson - a traffic engineer with a strong political background - as commissioner. Our most immediate need now is budgetry, which includes sewers. The proposed high-growth area of Clackamas County will be serviced by a district already at 100 percent capacity, and some form of capacity and financial agreement must be worked out. I have considerable expertise in this area.

Anything you want to say?

These answers are overly brief due to the huge number of candidates; I would be glad to discuss them at any time. In going to five members, we have the chance to model ourselves after Multnomah County's five bickering politicians or Washington County's Commission. I hope you pick the latter.

Craig Gingerich

Craig Gingerich, 49 lives between Canby and Aurora in Clackamas County. He is a property manager with the Clackamas County Housing Authority and has been an operations manager with them for 25 years.

He was a city manager in Booker, TX and attended the University of Phoenix, Hesston College and graduated from Canby Union High School.

Why are you running for commissioner?

Good stewardship recognizes the need to preserve our existing infrastructure in equal measure to planning for growth. I am eager to share my background in operations management to help the County set responsible priorities, shape achievable goals and encourage county departments to develop benchmarks to achieve our core objectives.

The county's communities often have radically different needs. How do you ensure residents from each of the different communities - from Estacada to Lake Oswego to Wilsonville - get fair and equal representation?

I would like to see our Board of Commissioners meet with a rotation of outlying communities once per quarter. An advance survey could precede meetings to ensure we include the topics of interest for that particular community. Living in a rural area myself, I recognize the need for better representation. Perhaps this is a part of the reason our streets are crumbling and we face the possibility of losing our libraries.

The loss of federal timber payments has left a $12 million hole in the county's budget. How do you expand the tax base and create more family-wage jobs?

I believe the county can tighten it's belt to recover a portion of this loss. For capital investment in our infrastructure we must consider varied avenues including vehicle license fees and utility fees to distribute the remaining costs to as broad a base as feasible. Rebuilding and expanding our roads creates good jobs and stimulates our local businesses as well. Theodore Roosevelt had it right, you don't retreat during hard times, you press ahead.

What options does the county have if the library levy fails in November?

I suggest we ask our libraries to determine a survival budget as an alternative to closure. This may buy some critical time for communities to adjust or adapt to this major decision. I'd ask our remaining county departments to find measures to reduce their operations budget without cutting back on core services. Departments able to self determine in excess of 10% (or a percent determined by actual need) will forgo an independent efficiency assessment.

What would you say is the biggest issue facing the county today?

Would anyone be surprised to learn that we are deferring road maintenance costs to meet a so-called balanced budget? I would ask that these costs be embedded in our budget and that we begin revising strategic plans to incrementally close this gap over the next 10 years. We are irresponsible if we continue to defer this need for the much greater cost of later replacement.

Anything you want to say?

If you desire proactive leadership that will encourage the development of departmental benchmarks to enhance productivity, upgrade our county employee attendance policy to promote good attendance, develop the use of public surveys to help ensure that priorities are determined with your interests in mind, vote for Craig Gingerich for Position 4.

David Mowry

David Mowry, 56, lives in unincorporated North Clackamas County and is a business and public affairs consultant. Mowry earned his Bachelor of Science in community development at Portland State University and attended Willamette University Law School for two years. He has previous government experience as a legislative coordinator in the Oregon Legislature, a member of the Clackamas County Annexation Study Group, a member of the Clackamas County Mental Health Council and as the chairman for Citizens for the Future of North Clackamas.

Why are you running for commissioner?

I am running because I believe Clackamas County has a bright future and I want it to be the best it can be. I work well with people of varying political perspectives and will bring a positive consensus building spirit to the commission.

The county's communities often have radically different needs. How do you ensure residents from each of the different communities - from Estacada to Lake Oswego to Wilsonville - get fair and equal representation?

We need to bring commission meetings to the communities which we serve. I propose we hold a meeting each quarter outside of Oregon City and in a community within the county. This will give us the opportunity to hear from more community members and make sure we are representing all the communities fairly.

The loss of federal timber payments has left a $12 million hole in the county's budget. How do you expand the tax base and create more family-wage jobs?

First, the commission has to work with our state and federal officials to get as much money replaced as possible. After that, we must make sure Clackamas County is a welcoming place for new and existing businesses. Too often government looks at business as a revenue source instead of the economic engine that drives the county. We need to change that mindset and build private sector employment.

What options does the county have if the library levy fails?

I support the library levy and believe that libraries are a very special asset that helps make the quality of life in Clackamas County as good as it is. There are no good solutions if the levy fails. I will work with individual communities and my fellow commissioners to do the best we can to keep libraries open.

What would you say is the biggest issue facing the county today?

The economy and jobs as well as growth over the next several years are the most important issues facing the county. We need jobs in the county so our residents can live, work and play close to home. We also need to manage growth so we don't outpace our ability to develop infrastructure to accommodate that growth. Although we have many difficult challenges ahead, we also have tremendous opportunity to grow and provide jobs in a sustainable manner.

Anything you want to say?

Whether working at the state, county or local level, I have proven my ability to work with others regardless of their political perspectives. We can be passionate about the issues, disagree about solutions and yet still respect each other and be able to work together. That is what I have done in the past and what I will continue to do in the future.