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Damon reflects on commissioner stint

Eagle Creek resident proud of her service to Clackamas County


When Jamie Damon was appointed to the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners last year, that body gained something it typically doesn’t have — a member from the rural eastern part of the county.

But even though the Eagle Creek resident is set to leave office next month, Damon said she will remember her stint as commissioner very fondly.

Damon, a professional mediator, was selected to replace Commissioner Ann Lininger, who was hired as a land-use and transportation adviser to Gov. John Kitzhaber. She said she was motivated to apply for the commissioner spot because of the lack of representation from areas like Sandy, the mountain villages, Eagle Creek and Estacada.

“I was also really concerned about the divisiveness that I saw happening in the county around the Sellwood Bridge financing and a number of issues,” Damon said. “I thought it might be helpful to have a mediator in the mix, and that’s one of the reasons I applied.”

When she took office in June 2011, Damon said it was “pretty common for the weekly meetings to be pretty full of a wide variety of angry people.” She immediately set about using her 25 years as a mediator to try and turn that around.

“The commission didn’t even have any meeting guidelines or rules of decorum for how it conducted its business meetings,” Damon said. “One of the first things I helped put in place was meeting guidelines, so we could at least disagree with respect and civility. The tone of the meetings has gotten quite a bit better since I’ve been there.”

Another of Damon’s accomplishments as commissioner has been to raise the issue of federal ownership of large swaths of land in Clackamas County. She is a member of Kitzhaber’s O&C Lands Task Force, which is charged with developing policy recommendations for federal timber lands throughout the state.

Several rural counties are facing financial calamity due to the end of federal payments given in lieu of timber receipts, which were historically used to fund local services.

“I think what people don’t realize is that there are 77,000 acres of O&C land in Clackamas County. Around 57 percent of the county is managed by the federal government,” Damon said. “One of my priorities when I came into office was to put Clackamas County on people’s radar screen as being a timber county.”

Six years ago, Damon sat on a task force along with Commissioner Paul Savas to make recommendations on how to improve Clackamas County’s operations. Several of that group’s suggestions were implemented, including expanding the board from three to five members, electing a chair at large and making the commissioner positions nonpartisan.

But one of the group’s other recommendations was not brought forward. That was the concept of having commissioners elected by district instead of a countywide vote.

Damon said she would like to see that issue revisited in the near future.

“We have a proposal for how districts could work,” she said. “It’s just not OK for our county commission to not have consistent representation from east county.”

Although she lost her seat in November’s general election to Molalla resident and former legislator and lobbyist Tootie Smith, Damon hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to the political arena.

“It was disappointing to lose, but I think I probably would like to run for office again at some point,” Damon said. “I feel good about what I did. I didn’t compromise my integrity or values. I worked really hard and tried to be fair, and I hope people saw that.”