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BCC may study districts, adoption of term limits

It's still a hot idea to split up the Board of County Commissioners into districts to ensure that elected representatives live in both rural and urban areas.

Commissioners' preference for voters continuing to elect the partitioned seats on countywide basis would pass legal muster, according to county's counsel. Elected officials had feared exacerbating Clackamas County's urban-rural divide if the district representatives only campaigned in their own districts.

Political momentum may also force term limits on commissioners who would appoint the county clerk's position, rather than continue the position's current election by voters, under a proposal by Commissioner Ann Lininger. These concepts aren't new, but Lininger brought up the idea last week to study them, along with districting in a task force that the county plans to begin assembling this week.

Greg Chaimov thought these ideas were worth exploring and told the Clackamas Review that he would again help study the issue if asked by the commission. Chaimov is a Milwaukie city councilor who served as co-chair on the county's last task force that in 2007 recommended the expansion of the BCC from three to its current five members.

'It's a step in the right direction, given the high level of community involvement that we had on the issue of the composition of the commission,' Chaimov said.

Commissioners Jamie Damon and Paul Savas cautioned against watering down the charge of the task force with other political questions beside districting.

Damon was recently appointed by the other four commissioners who noted that a major consideration in her selection was her residence in Eagle Creek, part of the rural east of the county that had previously had no representative on the commission.

'For the rural areas, the stakes are a bit higher for them because they haven't seen consistent representation,' Damon said.

Savas said that the task force should be able to decide the scope of its study, which he thought could more easily work on examining the BCC chair's role in addition to districting.

Term limits, the chair's role and the clerk's election could all be studied alongside districting, according to Chaimov. He looked forward to another broad discussion involving many residents from across all parts of the county, he said.

'That would be a lot for a task force to bite off unless it was as well-staffed as it was last time,' he said. 'I would also hope that the commissioners would solicit the views of a large number of residents before they make a decision.'