Balloting sees strong push for enhancing regions greenspaces

Metro received a wakeup call in the May 21 special election. Although voters approved its levy to maintain parks and greenspaces, the results were split between the counties. With most of the votes counted, Ballot Measure 26-152 was passing overwhelmingly in Multnomah County, but was being narrowly defeated in Washington and Clackamas counties.

That's a change from the two previous ballot measures, which paved the way for Metro to buy most of the approximately 16,000 acres of property it currently owns. Those measures passed in all three counties.

"I'm very happy that it passed in the region and look forward to working with those who did not agree with us," Metro Councilor Sam Chase, who represents portions of Portland and Multnomah County, said about the split results.

Washington County Commissioner Dick Schouten said he thought the measure would still benefit his county. He stopped by the campaign's election-night party in southeast Portland to show his support for the measure.

"It's still good politics for elected officials in Washington County to support Metro's natural land policies. They benefit the entire region," Schouten said.

In unofficial returns, the measure was passing with around 58 percent of the vote. The election night tally showed roughly 139,000 voters in favor of the measure, with about 119,000 against it.

The measure passed in Multnomah County with 58 percent of the vote, but it received only 49 percent support in Washington County and 48 percent in Clackamas County.

In 1995, voters in the region approved Ballot Measure 26-26 by 63 to 36 percent, passing in all three counties.

In 2006, voters in the three-county region approved Ballot Measure 26-80 by 59 to 41 percent. The measure was designed to raise approximately $50 million over five years to maintain approximately 16,000 acres of natural areas and parks owned by Metro.

As of election day, two campaign committees in support of Ballot Measure 26-152 had raised more than $311,000 in cash and in-kind contributions. Restore Our Natural Lands reported raising more than $270,000. A separate committee funded primarily by the Boston-based Conservation Campaign had raised more than $61,000.

Opposition to Ballot Measure 26-152 was scarce. No statements opposing the measure appeared in the Oregon Voter's Pamphlet. A number of mayors in the region asked the Metro Council to delay the measure, but they put it on the ballot anyway.

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