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Conn announces bid for county commissioner seat


St. Helens city councilor Susan Conn announced last week that she will run for a seat on the Columbia County Board of Commissioners.

Conn is running for Position 1, which is currently held by Earl Fisher.

She filed candidacy papers Thursday, Sept. 10, the first day of the filing period for the May 18, 2015 election. Conn is one of two candidates to file for the position so far. Clatskanie-area resident Margaret Magruder also announced that day that she is vying for the same position. Fisher confirmed last week that he won’t seek another term on the board.

Position 2, which is currently held by Tony Hyde, is also up for election in May. As of Wednesday, no one had filed to run against Hyde.

Conn has served on the St. Helens City Council for the last five years. She has also served as a board member on the Columbia Pacific Economic Development District and the St. Helens School Board, in addition to volunteering her time with various other boards, including the Columbia County Commission on Children and Families.

If she is elected to the board, St. Helens will have to find someone to fill her vacated position on the City Council.

Conn has lived in Columbia County for 26 years. She operated two small businesses in the county, both bookstores, and has also worked in banks, performed administrative duties for attorneys and CPAs, and worked as an educational assistant to English language learners.

Conn says her varied employment experience, gives her a broader understanding of the county.

“I’ve been working in the community since I got here 26 years ago,” Conn said. “I kind of jumped in and started volunteering. I’ve held elected positions and I’ve been gradually getting more and more involved in the greater area.”

Conn said she’s been in touch with Fisher for several months and planned to file for her candidacy months ago, when he told her he wouldn’t run again.

She cited economic development as one of her top concerns and priorities.

“That’s an area that the county is focusing on now, but I’m looking at it from a broader view, because I think it includes more than just our immediate [businesses],” Conn said, noting the need to include transportation and educational opportunities in the conversations about economic development.

“I think it’s a very complex issue,” she noted. “I want to see us create a diverse and stable economy and not depend on a single industry as far as jobs and growth. I think we need to make more job training efforts out there.”

In a news release distributed last Friday, Conn said she believes the county can “continue to be livable and attract businesses without compromising our values.”

She also cited public safety as a high priority, noting her involvement with the “Don’t Bail on the Jail” campaign to get voters to approve a property tax levy to support the Columbia County Jail.