County commission race is David-Goliath match
African-American woman would bring diversity to all-male, all-white board
Glendora Claybrooks calls her candidacy for Washington County commissioner an unprecedented adventure.
She is challenging incumbent Roy Rogers, who has been in office since 1985, in the May 17 primary. District 3 covers the southeast corner of the county, including Durham, King City, Sherwood, Tigard and Tualatin.
I came from an era when people who look like me male or female did not have the opportunity to participate in their government, said Claybrooks, who is African American. If elected, she would be the first person of color to serve on the five-member commission.
Claybrooks, 63, is president of the local chapter of the National Action Network, a civil rights advocacy organization founded and led by the Rev. Al Sharpton. She has held that position since 2010.
Although Claybrooks has been active in the Democratic Party, this is her first run for public office. County commissioner positions are nonpartisan. The four district seats are part-time and the chairman, elected countywide, serves full time.
I am definitely not part of the establishment. I am just a regular citizen who has been a product of the negative effects of what our institutions offer, said Claybrooks, referring to how agencies serving minorities and the poor often have trouble connecting with their clients.
She lives in Tualatin with her niece.
Claybrooks said Washington County has become more urban and its population more diverse since she moved to Tualatin in 1995.
Her education and background interweaves public health and political activism.
She earned a bachelors degree in health sciences and community health education in 2005 from Portland State University, where she went on to obtain a graduate certificate in public management and public administration in 2011.
She earned a masters degree in health administration in 2008 from the University of Portland.
From 2009 to 2010 she was a medical assisting instructor at Carrington College, a for-profit network of 18 campuses, including one in Portland. The college specializes in health professions.
She is a member of the state Medicaid Advisory Committee.
Though she is interested in public health, Claybrooks said her goal in public office is to make all government programs work better for those who depend on those services.
I am motivated by seeing a lot of broken pieces of our system that are not working for the common good of people the system was intended for, she said. I believe I can make a difference.
Commissioner Dick Schouten, in District 1, is also up for re-election. At this time he faces no challengers. Candidates have until March 8 to file for the May 17 election.