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Clackamas votes to expand board of commissioners

The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners will add two new seats with the passage of ballot Measure 3-272

Clackamas County voters overwhelmingly voted to expand the board of commissioners from three to five members Tuesday.

Almost 63 percent of voters favored ballot Measure 3-272, which expands the board to five at-large, non-partisan seats. The three seats are currently partisan positions. Voter turnout in Clackamas County was 41 percent; 86,000 residents voted; and more than 51,000 favored the expansion of the board.

Commissioners have repeatedly stated that a larger board will allow them to better serve the county, especially when Clackamas is competing for federal and state funding with neighboring counties with five-member boards like Multnomah and Washington.

'As one of the largest counties in the state we need a five member commission to give us the firepower to compete in the regional, state and federal arenas,' vice-chair Lynn Peterson, a former Lake Oswego Councilor, said in August, after the commission voted to put the move to a vote. 'Change is never easy but it is vital for Clackamas County to take this first step toward a larger commission.'

The ordinance - which enacts the first reorganization of the board in several decades - was the result of four months of work by a county-sanctioned group of citizen volunteers. The Task Force convened 10 times and met with 17 civic organizations and a number of individuals across the county to make its final recommendations to the board, and those recommendations became the framework for the ballot measure.

Voters will see the commission expanded from three members to five in 2009, with board members elected by position numbers; voters, not the commissioners, will now elect the board chairman/chairwoman as a separate office.

The measure does not carve the five seats into districts, an item that concerned voters in more rural areas of the county. The task force, however, has asked that commissioners revisit the district issues after four years.

All results are unofficial until certified by voter services.