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County candidates address growth, diversity at forum

The incumbent offered a lot of specifics; the challenger did not.

But both Commissioner Roy Rogers and Glendora Claybrooks offered competing visions for Washington County government — and the 40 percent of its people who live outside cities — during a forum last Thursday, April 21, sponsored by two of the county’s citizen participation organizations.

Rogers, first elected to the board in 1984, is seeking a ninth term in District 3, which covers Durham, Tigard, Tualatin, King City, Sherwood,

part of Wilsonville, and several unincorporated communities.

Washington County has an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent — tied with Multnomah County for the state’s lowest — and leads Oregon in per-capita income.

“We have some issues. But we have a success rate, and that is how you want to judge anybody standing here: What have they done?” Rogers said. “We are doing well. We have a great county. People are coming here.”

Washington County, Oregon’s second most populous at 570,510 in mid-2015, is adding 12,000 people a year — the equivalent of the population of Cornelius.

Rogers said the county emphasizes basic services such as law enforcement and transportation.

Claybrooks, who has lived in Tualatin for two decades, is making her first bid for public office.

She said the all-male board, whose most junior members are well into their second terms, could use a political transfusion.

“We are in dire need of new vision,” said Claybrooks, who seeks to be the first person of color elected to the board. “To achieve the change we seek requires a change in the face of leadership. With that comes an examination of the policies that are in place and use a fine-toothed comb to examine those problems.”

Claybrooks said county government must do more to deal with unmet social needs, particularly in health and human services.

Claybrooks has been president of the local chapter of the National Action Network since 2010, and is working on a

doctorate in health policy.

Her career has interwoven

health care and political activism.

Concerns about growth

Several questions from the audience reflected residents’ concerns that their communities are feeling pressures from growing populations and intensified development.

About 40 percent of the county’s people live outside cities, in Oregon’s largest urban unincorporated areas overseen by a county board of commissioners. Special districts with their own governing boards provide some urban services such as fire protection, parks and recreation, and water. Others, such as enhanced sheriff’s patrols and wastewater treatment, are provided through districts governed by the board, although Clean Water Services is separate from county government.

Claybrooks said she could not offer specific answers on those issues.

“If and when I am elected, I am willing to examine the existing policies to see where the inconsistencies are, where the dollars are distributed, set some priorities based on that, and seek leadership outside of local government to bring some answers and provide some solutions,” she said. “I am results-oriented and that is what I will do.”

Rogers said it’s up to county communities to decide whether to maintain their status, incorporate as cities, or annex to existing cities.

“It is the level of service you want,” he said. “Can you drive a car without a radio, power seats or windows, or other things? Sure. Cities provide a higher level of service. If that’s what you want to buy, that’s where you go.”

“If you want more services, there isn’t anything we cannot do if you are willing to raise taxes,” Rogers said. “I have yet in my conversation to find anyone who did not want more things but also wanted to pay more for them.”