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ENDORSEMENT: Elect Bill King to Position 4 on Clackamas County Commission

Steve Bates resonates with fiscal conservatism



It was Bill King’s own experience of testifying before the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners that gave him the final push he needed to enter the race for countywide office. The experience left him feeling disillusioned by commission leadership, and baffled by the treatment he received while testifying, saying he was insulted and labeled as a liar by the very person he’s now running to replace ... Commissioner Tootie Smith.

King, in his role as mayor of Sandy, had gone to the commission meeting to ask for county approval of the formation of an Urban Renewal Area in Sandy, which would pay for development of an aquatic center, multi-generational community center and other projects in a blighted portion of the town. With the URA already earning support of surrounding taxing districts, King was surprised when Commissioner Smith launched into a condemnation of the effort and accused the mayor of lying in his testimony. It’s this unwelcoming culture that King hopes to change when elected to replace Smith.

For the record, we are not opposed to some, or even most, of the positions taken by Smith, who’s heart is clearly in the right place as a watchdog of the county’s financial resources. On that point, we give her full credit. For example, she opposed spending Clackamas County dollars on the replacement of Multnomah County’s Sellwood Bridge, a foolhardy proposal from its inception.

But King would have voted the same way.

Smith strongly favors stripping the Metro regional government of its land-use authority (legislative action required). King mostly agrees, saying the region could function nicely by simply following state land-use laws.

While Smith and King share some of the same beliefs, they differ dramatically in their approach: Smith, for example, has forged a hostile relationship with Metro, which only serves to drive a wedge between the two governments.

King, though no big fan of Metro, understands the value of partnerships and of listening, and of polite disagreement.

We believe Bill King will pick up where Tootie Smith leaves off in the role as watchdog, but he’ll do it in a way that leaves people feeling that they were heard, and that they got a fair shake.

We also appreciate that King brings expertise as a successful business owner — an auto repair shop — and experience in local government. The icing on the cake is that he lives in East Clackamas County, a portion of the county that is traditionally under-represented on the board.

Our recommendation, elect Bill King to Position 4 of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners.



Steve Bates of Boring, a fiscal conservative who is well-known for his sharp criticisms of Metro regional government, is running against incumbent Martha Schrader of Lake Oswego.

Bates was the candidate who waged a valiant campaign against Commissioner Jim Bernard in 2014. The race was undecided on election night. And it wasn’t until weeks later that Bates conceded to Bernard, but only on a 1.3 percent margin. If nothing else, the 2014 results demonstrate that Bates’ hard fiscal line and no-nonsense approach to governance resonate with voters. He may be the curmudgeon of local politics, but he is electable.

But so is his prominent opponent, Schrader, who has served in the Oregon Senate and as chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, and who has a track record as a sensible and engaged politician.

Honestly, this is a tough call. We want to put our support behind both of these candidates. But that would be a cop out, since the voters don’t have that luxury.

In the end, we had to ask ourselves this question: Which candidate will be the best fit for the county? Bates’ detail-oriented focus on money matters will undoubtedly go over very well in this somewhat conservative county.

We also like that Bates lives in Boring, which is a chance to put some balance onto the board, which is dominated by members who live in the west end of the county.

Our recommendation: We’ll vote for Steve Bates, but we won’t blame anyone who casts a ballot for Martha Schrader.