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Damascus councilor asks county to stop disincorporation vote

A Clackamas Circuit Court judge has ordered a hearing on a Damascus councilor’s lawsuit to stop the May 17 election on disincorporation.

Councilor Jim De Young filed the suit on April 18 as a private citizen against the city of Damascus, Clackamas County, the state of Oregon and Gov. Kate Brown.

On May 4, De Young followed up on his lawsuit by filing a motion with the Clackamas County Circuit Court to order a hearing to either stay the election or halt its enforcement, should the disincorporation vote pass.

De Young’s hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, just hours before the deadline to turn in ballots.

Proponents of disincorporation have good reason to believe it will pass — the measure passed in 2013, but did not receive the votes required for a super majority.

Last year, Rep. Shemia Fagan, D-Clackamas, helped pass legislation to place disincorporation on the May 17 ballot with a note that passage would require only a simple majority.

Because it was the state and not the residents of Damascus who petitioned for the vote, De Young believes the state’s move to put it on the ballot is unconstitutional.

“If Measure 93 is passed, the city must surrender all of its assets, including $7 million and 9,000 acres under its taxing authority, to Clackamas County,” De Young said. “The council did not approve nor support this legislative usurpation of city power.”

De Young says only the people of Damascus should be able to pursue disincorporation.

“It is of no statewide interest to the state legislature whether Damascus is a city or not,” he said.