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Ludlow vs. Lehan; head-to-head


In the race to lead the county, its a volunteer with a heart against a public servant

To be in the driver’s seat as chairman of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, John Ludlow is challenging incumbent Charlotte Lehan in the Nov. 6 general election.

Both have been mayor of the city of Wilsonville; both have been small business owners; but the similarities end there.

Views between the two candidates are quite divergent, with Ludlow challenging that Lehan has wielded a heavy hand, taking action and spending public money without seeking public views and often ignoring public testimony to reach premeditated decisions.

Ludlow says he would bring a “fresh perspective” to the commission.

“Unlike my opponent,” he said, “I will support and honor our citizens’ right to vote and to direct how their community develops.”

Ludlow says voters never should have had to gather petition signatures to vote on the auto license fee to pay for part of the new Sellwood Bridge, the right to vote on urban renewal tax spending or the right to vote on light rail spending.

Lehan, whose position gives her the power to set the county commission’s agenda, counters with a statement about her ability to work around a variety of viewpoints.

“Our best work occurs most often,” she said, “when we bring a diversity of opinions forward.”

Ludlow says he will represent the views of east county residents by staying in touch with them, as he has during the campaign. He also charged Lehan with trying to divide the county.

The challenger accused Lehan of saying people in the unincorporated areas do not pay their fair share.

“That’s an attitude of divisiveness,” he said, “that must disappear from the commission.”

But Lehan says she has worked to bring the county together, and she has fostered the collection of varied viewpoints.

“I have supported efforts to hold town hall meetings throughout the county,” she said, “and specifically supported the appointment of a commissioner from east county to the open seat last year.”

She also made public her intention to support the creation of four districts “to ensure that we always have representation from the rural portions of the county.”

Regarding reaching controversial decisions, Ludlow says there is an element of public trust in the integrity and experience of the decision makers.

“In the end we are elected to make decisions based on our personal experience and knowledge,” he said, “and the generous input of the public and staff.”

But Lehan contradicts Ludlow’s accusation about not considering public views.

“It is important to make sure there is an opportunity to hear all sides of an issue,” she said, “and to do our best to address the specific concerns raised as much as possible.”

Regarding political action committees, Ludlow admits receiving a lot of financial support from one PAC but denies that anyone has asked him “to be, say or do anything.”

He says his contributors have actively supported his last three campaigns to allow a vote on financial issues.

“Many of my opponent’s contributors,” he said, “tried three times to keep the public from voting ‘yes’ on citizen-led initiatives.”

Lehan says she has received contributions from a number of PACs such as those representing the arts, firefighters and peace officers, but that fact won’t influence her vote.

“I have always been a supporter of the arts and public safety in our communities,” she said, “and would continue to do so whether or not they had helped support my campaign.”

Both candidates answered two specific questions about Boring residents’ concerns over: 1) the city of Sandy’s insistence that a green corridor be built along Highway 26, taking private land and requiring the planting of trees to shield the view of development, and 2) the city of Gresham’s plans to close two Boring-area roads in Clackamas County and build a freeway interchange on Highway 26.

“Boring residents have been excluded from critical decisions regarding transportation and land-use restrictions,” Ludlow said. “That sounds very Metro-like to me.”

Lehan suggests this concern is much ado about nothing. She says the landscaping is discretionary and would be determined by the eventual city in control of that area.

“Since (the land in question) cannot come into the urban growth boundary until there is a city to host it,” she said, “that is likely to be some years off, and the most likely host is the future city of Boring.”

Ludlow points to his volunteerism as an example of his leadership and the way he cares about the communities and their residents.

“Most people don’t know me or my heart,” he said.

His volunteer work is across the spectrum from Clackamas Community College to the West Linn-Wilsonville School District to Wilsonville High School to the Gladstone Senior Center to the Coffee Creek (women’s) Correctional Facility, where he founded the “Through A Child’s Eyes” (TACE) program.

“The TACE program strengthens the family,” Ludlow said, “and helps cut down on the intergenerational cycle of criminality where children are following their parents into prison.”

For her part, Lehan points to her vast experience in public service and connections with people at all levels to help build a future for the county.

She says these relationships at the local, regional, state and federal levels “will help position Clackamas County for a strong and prosperous future.”

Ballots for the general election are scheduled to be mailed Oct. 19 and are due back in the County Elections Office by 8 p.m. Nov. 6.