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Candidates line up support for top county job

Candidates for chairman of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners are splitting up endorsements and making a final push in the last week before the highly competitive May 15 primary election.

The race pits state Rep. Dave Hunt, incumbent Chairwoman Charlotte Lehan, Wilsonville real estate agent John Ludlow and Commissioner Paul Savas.

Lehan has the support of County Vice Chairman Jim Bernard, but Hunt announced last week that he was 'humbled and honored' to be endorsed by Commissioner Ann Lininger.

An early split opinion from the North Clackamas County Chamber of Commerce, which had endorsed Savas' opponent Bob Austin in 2010, set the tone for the divided race.

'While both Hunt and Savas are strong candidates from the chamber's perspective, they both also present areas of concern,' according to a January statement by the chamber board. 'They both understand the dysfunction of the county government, the mistrust by the electorate and each has suggestions to address both.'

Meanwhile, the Service Employees International Union Local 503, which represents more than 45,000 workers in Oregon, gave its only dual primary endorsement to Hunt and Lehan last month. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48 is also supporting both.

Lehan and Savas split the most of the endorsements among local mayors: Oregon City's Doug Neeley, Lake Oswego's Jack Hoffman and Estacada's Becky Arnold are Lehan supporters, while Happy Valley Mayor Lori DeRemer, Canby Mayor Randy Carson, Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden and Sandy Mayor Bill King are planning to vote Savas. Damascus Mayor Steve Spinnett is a Ludlow supporter, and Molalla Mayor Mike Clarke is supporting Hunt. King, Sandy's mayor, is also supporting Hunt.

Environmentalists endorse

Perhaps nowhere is the divide more pronounced than in Wilsonville, the hometown of both Lehan and Ludlow, who both had been mayors there.

Current Mayor Tim Knapp gave his endorsement nod to Lehan, while Wilsonville City Councilor Steve Hurst is a Ludlow fan.

The Wilsonville Area Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Savas.

Hunt has major business groups such as the Oregon Small Business for Responsible Leadership and the Columbia/Pacific Building Trades Council.

Savas, however, gets support from the Oregon Small Business Association as well as the local homebuilder and automobile-dealer associations.

The public-safety community in Clackamas County also lacks consensus on the race. Hunt lists the Clackamas County and Tualatin Valley firefighters associations, as well as the Oregon State Police Officers' Association, among his endorsements, and Lehan has the Clackamas County Peace Officers Association and the P.O.L.I.C.E. PAC.

Lehan is the only candidate endorsed by environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. Ludlow has raised more than $50,000, more than any other candidate with the support of conservative political-action organizations Oregon Transformation Project and Taxpayer Association of Oregon.

Hunt has more support from teachers and school board members, but Savas has a lot of strength in the unincorporated Oak Grove area and among elected officials in Happy Valley and Canby.