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County boards set for a makeover

With three seats in the air, Naito's attracts the most contenders
by: Submitted photos, Multnomah County Board of Commissioners candidates for the District 3 seat include, from left, Mike Delman, Judy Shiprack and Rob Milesnick.

Voters get to recast the tarnished Multnomah County Board of Commissioners in the May 20 primary by selecting three new members to the five-person board.

The most competitive race is in east-side Portland, where six candidates are vying to replace term-limited Lisa Naito in District 3. The district ranges from affluent Laurelhurst and Mount Tabor to working-class Lents, Brentwood-Darlington and the David Douglas area.

Three of the six candidates have garnered the most endorsements and campaign contributions, and appear to be jockeying to make a fall runoff election. A runoff would include the top two vote-getters if no one gets at least 50 percent of the primary vote.

Mike Delman, public affairs director of Portland Habilitation Center, is making his first bid for public office after serving as a county insider for more than a decade. Among other county jobs, Delman was chief of staff to former county Commissioner Gary Hansen.

Rob Milesnick, lobbyist for ODS Health Plans, is the youngest of the three main contenders and a relative newcomer to Portland and the district. Milesnick snared the endorsement of the county employees' largest union, Council 88 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Judy Shiprack, director of the Public Safety Coordinating Council of Multnomah County, can boast public safety and insider credentials, from her current job and as a former deputy district attorney. She also served three terms in the Oregon Legislature.

Political observers consider Ron McCarty a wild card in the race. McCarty has run for several offices and served in the legislature in the late 1980s.

Also in the mix: Bruce Barclay, a county real estate appraiser, and Roy Burkett, an Intel Corp. manufacturing technician and part-time pastor.

This year's election marks the second phase of a changing of the guard at the board of commissioners, which has been under fire on many fronts since 2004.

That's when the four women on the board, led by then-Chairwoman Diane Linn, teamed to legalize gay marriage - without public hearings, with one day's advance notice, and without informing the fifth commissioner, Lonnie Roberts, of their plans.

Linn later feuded with the three other women, who formed a majority voting bloc dubbed the 'mean girls.'

Ted Wheeler vowed to restore public support for county government when he defeated Linn in 2006, and often has teamed with another reform-minded newcomer, District 2's Jeff Cogen. Three commissioners elected this year will join Wheeler and Cogen.

Delman eyes SUN, Zipcars

Delman, backed by the county corrections workers union, comes down on the side of the union and District Attorney Mike Schrunk in the philosophical dispute over the best approach to corrections.

Wheeler has preached the virtues of intensive drug and alcohol treatment as a way to rehabilitate prisoners and cut costs, by opening more 'soft' jail beds staffed by the county's Department of Community Justice.

'I don't believe that treatment beds are a deterrent to crime,' Delman said.

He favors retention of sheriff patrols in unincorporated areas, saying past studies have concluded that that is cheaper than hiring Gresham and Portland police to assume that role.

Delman suggests the county could raise money by lobbying the Legislature to allow county cigarette and alcohol taxes.

Delman proposes that after-school programs in schools in the county-supported Schools Uniting Neighborhoods be redistributed so poorer communities - areas around Marshall and David Douglas high schools, for instance - get more resources.

He suggested the county could save money by providing more oversight and auditing of its outside contracts.

Delman also proposed the county could contract out its vehicle maintenance program to Zipcar, a car-sharing service. A similar move helped Portland save money, he said.

Milesnick moved just in time

Milesnick settled in Portland in 2003 and relocated from a part of Northeast Portland, in District 2 to Laurelhurst last June, just prior to the deadline for establishing residency to run for the District 3 seat.

His lack of tenure in the district was overcome by high-profile endorsements, especially from AFSCME Local 88, the county workers union that also provided a $5,000 campaign contribution.

Milesnick formerly worked at the county for the DUII Intensive Supervision Program, run by the Oregon Judicial Department.

Milesnick said he supports the corrections plan Schrunk proposed, which includes more traditional jail beds and accompanying mental health and counseling services.

He suggested the county create a civilian review committee for the sheriff's office, similar to one he serves on for the city of Portland. And he would support contracting sheriff's patrols to neighboring cities.

Milesnick proposed the county's financial shortfall could be reduced if the Portland Development Commission allowed some urban renewal districts to expire and put the property back on the tax rolls.

'I think the one you want to look at is the one down in the Pearl,' he said. 'When they just continue as they do now, that's money lost to human services.'

Milesnick advocates that Metro or another regional authority be empowered to pay for the Sellwood Bridge replacement. He favors creation of a county environmental justice committee, which would review the impact of county programs on low-income residents.

He also proposed public subsidies to build a convention center headquarters hotel, arguing that the county could share some of the resulting tax revenues to reduce its funding shortfall.

Shiprack aligns with Wheeler

Shiprack said she'd be an ally of Wheeler, and she favors his budget approach of cutting the county's long-term debt to reduce the ongoing funding shortfall.

Shiprack also favors Wheeler's plan to open Wapato jail and pointed out that public polling shows support for a 'treatment focus' for inmates with drug and alcohol addiction.

She suggested the county could convert its Inverness jail in Northeast Portland to a transition facility for state prisoners serving the final year of their sentences, using state funds, and then shift Inverness inmates to Wapato.

Shiprack boasts of having in-depth experience in public safety and human services, both major functions of the county.

She served as a low-income housing developer for several years. In the Legislature, Shiprack championed affordable-housing programs, and helped pass the first Oregon legislation, back in 1989, that granted protection based on sexual orientation, in a bill against harassment.

Shiprack favors lobbying the Legislature to enable county-level taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. She also would seek changes in the law enabling county vehicle registration fees, arguing the existing law makes it hard to pass such fees. Then the county could try once more to raise the fee to fund the replacement of the Sellwood Bridge, she said.

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Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, District 3 race

• Bruce Barclay

Occupation: real estate appraiser, Multnomah County

Experience: teacher, trial assistant, energy consultant

Money raised: $910 from several small donors

• Roy Burkett

Occupation: manufacturing technician, Intel

Experience: engineer, pastor

Money raised: $7,054 from several small donors

• Mike Delman

Occupation: public affairs director, Portland Habilitation Center

Experience: former chief of staff to Multnomah County Commissioner Gary Hansen; intergovernmental relations coordinator, Multnomah County sheriff's office; Multnomah County Aging Services Department

Money raised: $59,724 from 170 donors

Endorsements: Stand for Children, Multnomah County Corrections Officers Association, former Multnomah County chairmen Don Clark and Hank Miggins

• Ron McCarty

Occupation: tax consultant

Experience: Oregon state representative, 1985-89; eight years on Mt. Hood Community College Board

Money raised: None reported

• Rob Milesnick

Occupation: legislative advocate, ODS Health Plans

Experience: Multnomah County DUII Intensive Supervision Program, for Oregon Judicial Department; member of Portland's Citizen Review Committee

Money raised: $31,720 from 61 donors

Endorsements: American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 88; former Gov. Barbara Roberts, former Multnomah County Chairwoman Bev Stein

• Judy Shiprack

Occupation: director, Public Safety Coordinating Council of Multnomah County

Experience: Oregon state representative, 1986-91; deputy district attorney, Multnomah County

Money raised: $34,231 from 85 donors

Endorsements: Service Employees International Union Locals 503 and 49; Multnomah County Commissioners Lisa Naito and Maria Rojo de Steffey

Other: Formerly known as Judy Bauman