Kathryn Harrington says she will blend decades of community, business and Metro Council experience if she is elected next year to lead the Washington County Board of Commissioners.
Harrington joins a growing field of candidates seeking to succeed Andy Duyck, who announced April 11 he will step down when his second term ends at the close of 2018. Duyck was on the board 16 years before he was elected chairman — a countywide position — in 2010.
"If I thought there was a candidate in the race who fit my values, I would not have put my hat in the ring," Harrington said in a brief interview. "I have been working as a champion for my community and I want to continue to work on solving our problems in transportation, job creation and housing affordability."
Harrington said she wants to maintain Washington County as Oregon's economic engine. She worked 10 years at Intel, the California company that is Oregon's largest private employer, and more than 20 years overall in high technology.
But Harrington also said the county must pay attention to social needs.
"We need to be more focused on serving community members throughout Washington County and making sure we are not leaving people behind, even as our area is expected to continue growing," she said.
"That only puts a strain on everybody in our community."
She and her husband, Marc, live in Beaverton.
Harrington, 57, came to Washington County in the 1980s to lead teams developing and marketing software, first at Central Point Software and then at Intel in Hillsboro.
She was involved in a community participation organization, part of a county network, before she was elected to the open District 4 seat on the Metro Council in 2006.
Metro has a wide range of responsibilities, among them regional planning and transportation.
Harrington will be completing a third and final term on the council in 2018.
Harrington joins two others who have launched their candidacies for county chair, the person who is in effect the chief executive of Oregon's second most populous county with an annual budget topping $1 billion.
Commissioner Bob Terry and Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden have announced they are running.
Also said to be interested is Ryan Deckert, who had been president of the Oregon Business Association, which just merged with Associated Oregon Industries. Deckert has about $25,000 in a campaign fund left over from his decade as a Democratic state legislator, but according to a filing with the secretary of state, his campaign committee has raised no money for a few years.
"The next county commission chair will need to see the opportunities the future will bring, while also understanding and appreciating what is so special about our county today," Harrington said in her announcement.
The position is nonpartisan. If no one wins a majority in the May 15, 2018, primary, the top two finishers move on to the November 2018 general election.
Harrington already has mustered endorsements from two of the county commissioners – Dick Schouten and Greg Malinowski – and a long list of others, including Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle.
"Washington County has a lot of promise, but also some critical challenges that need to be addressed," Doyle said in a statement that was part of Harrington's campaign announcement.
"Kathryn is the kind of leader we can trust to listen to all sides, be thoughtful about finding a solution and work with each of our communities to make sure that solution fits for all of us."
Harrington said she has no quick solutions for housing availability or affordability in the county, other than that the county and cities should maximize opportunities to match grants for lower-cost housing built by others.
But she also said the county should continue to work to avert homelessness.
"It is worse than shame when we have 1,300 children in the Beaverton School District homeless last year and struggling to get to school," she said.