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A challenger emerges in race for county commission

A Tualatin woman has filed to run for a seat on the Washington County Commission, against longtime commissioner Roy Rogers.

Glendora Claybrooks calls her candidacy an “unprecedented adventure.”

Claybrooks is challenging Rogers, who has been in office since 1985, in the May 17 primary.

Rogers’ district covers the southeast corner of the county, including Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, Durham, King City, Bull Mountain, Metzger and Garden Home.

“I came from an era when people who look like me — male or female — did not have the opportunity to participate in their government,” said Claybrooks, who is African American. If elected, she would be the first from a racial or ethnic minority to serve on the five-member commission.

Claybrooks, 63, is president of the local chapter of the National Action Network, a civil rights advocacy organization founded and led by the Rev. Al Sharpton. She has held that position since 2010.

Although Claybrooks has been active in the Democratic Party, this is her first run for public office. County commissioner positions are nonpartisan; the four district seats are part time, and the chairman elected countywide serves full time.

“I am definitely not part of the establishment,” she said. “I am just a regular citizen who has been a product of the negative effects of what our institutions offer. They have not been forthcoming.”

Her education and background interweaves public health and political activism.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in health sciences and community health education in 2005 from Portland State University, where she went on to obtain a graduate certificate in public management and public administration in 2011.

Rogers, a certified public accountant who lives in Tigard, is one of Oregon’s longest-serving commissioners, with more than three decades in office.

Claybrooks’ challenge comes after a Hillsboro residents started collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would impose term limits on county commissioners. That petition has two years to collect the necessary signatures.

She earned a master’s degree in health administration in 2008 from the University of Portland.

From 2009 to 2010 she was a medical assisting instructor at Carrington College, a for-profit network of 18 campuses, including one in Portland. The college specializes in health professions.

She is a member of the state Medicaid Advisory Committee.

Though she is interested in public health, Claybrooks said her goal in public office is to make all government programs work better for those who depend on those services.

“I am motivated by seeing a lot of broken pieces of our system that are not working for the common good of people the system was intended for,” she said. “I believe I can make a difference.”

Claybrooks is the first challenger to two open seats on the commission. Commissioner Dick Schouten, in District 1, is also up for re-election and is currently running unopposed.

Candidates have until March 8 to file for the May 17 election.