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Caton wants to expand business opportunities

Clackamas County Commission candidate Jeff Caton does not have many good words for urban giants Metro or TriMet.

Speaking recently to the Boring Citizen Planning Organization, Caton also showed his disfavor for light rail in an area as rural as Clackamas County.

The trend over the past 10 years, he said, is that federal gas tax money has been reduced from 80 percent for roads to 59 percent, and Caton said that has more than doubled funding for light rail and other transportation forms.

'TriMet is a Ponzi scheme,' Caton said. 'At this point, light rail is a TriMet Ponzi scheme.

'(TriMet administrators) need a light-rail project to buy new rail cars that they can then sell back to a company to get cash out of that for operations they can't fund - and then they lease those cars back (for TriMet routes).'

One man attending the session complained about Metro giving all of the UGB (developable land) expansion to Washington County. He asked Caton what Clackamas County could do to get a piece of the pie.

Caton acknowledged this county has needs for expansion of developable land that would bring jobs to the area.

He cited an example of a business that wanted to expand five years ago, but found nothing but harsh zoning and infrastructure requisites and delay by county staff.

'Those jobs went out of state,' Caton told the CPO audience. 'The county put so much time in getting answers that the whole project went out of state. That was at least 300 jobs we lost.'

Sharon Marsh asked Caton how to encourage the growth of new businesses and still keep the county rural.

The answer, he said, is Metro's proper management of the urban growth boundry. But he reminded all that many large businesses have started in someone's garage or at a farmers market, so encouraging small businesses is important.

Esther Lee said she was irritated at the attitude she feels from the people in Metro who are making decisions aimed at benefiting only large urban areas.

'Metro is getting bigger; how do we clip their wings,' she asked Caton, 'and what are your plans (for Clackamas County) to get more power?'

Caton said someone representing views of this county should get a seat on the Metro board and the county commissioners should go to the Metro board to speak about the county's priorities and goals.

The message for Metro, Caton said, is: 'Here's our master plan. Get on board, Metro, we're moving forward.

'I want to be a voice for the people on these issues,' he said. 'I want to use (the commission's) platform responsibly, but forcefully, with the powers that be at Metro and TriMet and work together for Clackamas County to help us move things forward.'

At CPO Chairman Steve Bates' question, Caton said he favors commissioners being elected from districts, and noted a task force is now discussing the idea.

Caton is on the May 15 primary ballot for Position No. 3 on the commission, along with Martha Schrader and Jim Knapp. If none of the three receives a majority of votes, the two top vote-getters would appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.