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County hopefuls attack commissioners

Two candidates for county commission will speak at the Boring CPO meeting March 6
by:  John Ludlow and Jeff Caton

Jeff Caton says Clackamas County should change its priorities and take better care of its roads by gaining more federal and state tax dollars.

John Ludlow says he sees what he calls a 'huge disconnect' between the Board of Clackamas County Commissioners and the people it serves.

Caton is one of two candidates on the May 15 primary ballot for Position No. 3, while Ludlow is one of four seeking Position No. 1 (chairperson). Each candidate will be given 45 minutes to explain his candidacy and answer questions from the audience at the Tuesday, March 6, Citizen Planning Organization (CPO) meeting in Boring.

John Ludlow

Ludlow quotes the numbers, saying 63 percent of voters didn't want to help pay for the new Sellwood Bridge. He also said the commissioners tried to 'trick voters into voting for their urban renewal measure' because they didn't like the initiative proposal. That's when about 70 percent of voters said no to the commissioners' idea, Ludlow said.

Ludlow gives frequent testimony to the board of commissioners on issues of concern to many - including Milwaukie light rail, which he says costs $205 million per mile.

'Many citizens have asked the commissioners to let them vote on whether or not they want light rail in the county,' he said, 'and it has fallen on deaf ears. When I have asked them about that, they have never, ever even answered me. So I guess their silence is the answer.

'When you have three separate citizen initiative petitions brought by the people in such a short time, there's obviously a problem with leadership.'

Ludlow says he brings to the table a lifetime of leadership performance. His resume is long and varied. For nearly every organization he has joined, he has served in leadership positions.

Ludlow says he has the backbone to stand up to Multnomah County, TriMet and Metro when their interests do not consider Clackamas County interests.

'Metro,' he said, 'has too much influence on politics in Clackamas County and our choices in how we want to live our lives.'

Ludlow points to the times when hundreds of people have told the commissioners they didn't want something, only to be ignored.

'(The commissioners) don't answer (those who testify) at all,' he said. 'The agenda for most of those commissioners has already been set in collaboration with others. Too much is Portland's and Metro's agenda - and not enough of what people in Clackamas County want.'

Jeff Caton

Caton believes the county should focus on the roads many thousands of county residents are using every day and not on the expensive light rail project a relatively small number of people would use.

Expansion of existing businesses is one of the ways Caton says the county could encourage job growth. That might require zoning changes, but he says it is a worthwhile venture. He criticizes the county for the reputation it has developed of dragging its feet when it comes to land-use proposals.

'There are some things the county can do to encourage job growth,' he said, 'including streamlining our land-use laws, improving the permitting process and making sure our service development fees are reasonable.'

On the topic of making government more efficient and transparent, Caton says the commission can affect the financial efficiency of county departments without micromanaging.

With his background and experience in consulting, tax accounting and efficiency for large corporations, Caton has just begun working with the commissioners as a member of the budget committee.

'The systems by which (the board of commissioners) holds the department managers accountable need to be improved from what we've got today,' he said. 'Right now, there are not sufficient systems in place to hold (department managers) accountable for the financial decisions that are being made and for the priorities of the county and the outcomes we expect from those people.'

Caton says he's not a politician, and his campaign is representing the 70 percent of voters who want public employees to be held accountable and the county to operate more efficiently.

Meeting agenda

While two 45-minute sessions with the candidates will take up most of the two-hour meeting, there will still be time for public comments, communications from the county on land-use issues and short reports from law enforcement, the water district, fire district, grange and park committee.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, at the Boring Fire Station on Highway 212 in downtown Boring.

For more information, call CPO Chairman Steve Bates at 503-663-6271.