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With the Obama and Romney camps force-feeding the U.S. electorate a bitter diet of political pablum, we can understand why many voters in western Washington County may not be aware there are other races that will appear on the Oregon ballot, from state Attorney General and Secretary of State to several city council and county commission races.

The lack of interest, it seems, has gone beyond voters this year and infected would-be candidates for local races, where new names are as scarce as Portland Timbers goals.

That’s too bad, as it’s our view that the folks who sit on your school board, city councils and county commissions will have more of an effect on your daily lives than the guy (or, someday, gal) who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C.

We know that serving at the local level, where the job of elected official often comes without a paycheck, is a sacrifice. And we understand that in communities where “everybody knows everybody,” it’s sometimes awkward to run against an incumbent. 

But an infusion of new blood can stimulate the body politic, as seen recently in Cornelius and Forest Grove.

In Cornelius, the recall of Team 3 (Neal Knight, Mari Gottwald and Jamie Minshall) from the city council last fall shook things up. Jose Orozco, Dave Schamp and Harvey Crowder were appointed to fill the vacancies and all three brought new ideas and perspectives to the council.

Orozco immediately started digging into what Metro could do to aid the city’s parks. Schamp began an effort to reform the city’s chamber of commerce (now fully underway) and spearheaded a successful clean-up day in Cornelius. Crowder, with a long history of volunteerism in Cornelius, rolled up his sleeves and contributed to the clean-up effort’s planning and execution.

In Forest Grove, meanwhile, Tom BeLusko was appointed to a vacancy in the fall of 2009 and made an immediate impact.

BeLusko, at 39, was more than a decade younger than any of his colleagues, and as a parent of small children, he had insights the other councilors lacked. As the owner of a small business, he played a key role in finally finding a compromise that allowed local merchants to set up temporary signs, without turning our sidewalks and medians into open-air bazaars.

BeLusko chose not to run for election this year, but he — along with Orozco, Schamp and Crowder — have shown that you don’t need to spend years on a council or board to make a difference in your community.

We’d like to see voters offered a full menu of choices when they look at the bottom of their fall ballot and encourage anyone who cares about their community to consider putting their name forward.

There’s still time. Filing deadlines for local races won’t be here for another two weeks.


How to sign up

Interested in running for city council? Contact your local city recorder for details about filing for office.

n Banks City Recorder

Jolynn Becker, 503-324-5112

n Cornelius City Recorder

Debby Roth, 503-357-9112

n Forest Grove City Recorder

Anna Ruggles, 503-992-3235

n Gaston City Recorder

Margaret Bell, 503-985-3340

n Hillsboro City Recorder

Amber Ames, 503-681-6117

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