John Ludlow, who started in leadership positions and political affiliations at a young age, criticizes the operation of Clackamas County by saying it is staff driven - not constituent driven.

He also slaps the current commissioners for not responding to citizen questions and complaints, and for setting meetings at times when most people could not attend.

Speaking recently to the Boring Citizen Planning Organization, Ludlow cited the county's lack of transparency as a major issue.

He especially wants to see county residents have the opportunity to speak to the commission and be heard, which he says is not the case with the current panel.

"What if somebody came and took the time to testify before the commission, and the commissioners would turn to the county administrator and said, 'What can we do for this person?' ' Ludlow said.

Ludlow wants the commission to set evening meetings to allow working people time to speak to them directly, instead of trying to get off work for a 10 a.m. meeting on a Thursday.

Regarding electing a representative from several districts instead of at-large commissioner positions, Ludlow favors districting. He says that gives people in the outlying areas a chance to be at the decision-making table without running a county-wide campaign.

'I think that would be an opportunity for change that is very much needed,' Ludlow said.

Responding to a question about conditional-use permits from the county's Planning Department, Ludlow said the department dictates how things should be and violates laws at the same time.

'You talk about an area that is staff-driven,' he said, '(County planners) will make decisions that are not part of county or state law. They'll just make (the decisions) because they think they like it. And when you go to their hearings officer, who is a trained attorney, it's like rubber-stamp city.'

Complaining about the county's new user fees - and calling them taxes - Ludlow said the county needs to 'streamline,' meaning become more efficient and less costly by reducing the number of administrators at the top.

'The county gets $800 million of income each year, and they can't get along? He said. "And they need a new road user fee?'

Ludlow is against urban renewal unless the people affected are given a vote. He's also says Metro dictates what the county can do and what it can't do.

'The best cure for Metro,' he said, 'is the more cities that come along and say, 'We quit Metro,' the better.

'And if the county commissioners were elected correctly (districts) they could also join and say, 'We quit. We don't want to be part of this grand experiment (light rail).' '

Additionally, he thinks TriMet will go broke. But he doesn't think the county will change its ways unless new people and new ideas become part of the dialogue.

'They (commissioners) know bringing things to the public (elections) will not pass,' he said, 'so they'll continue to do user fees until we all die.'

Ludlow is on the May 15 primary ballot for Position No. 1 (chairman) on the commission, along with incumbent Chairwoman Charlotte Lehan, Rep. Dave Hunt, D-Clackamas County, and current commissioner Paul Savas. If none of the four receives a majority of votes, the two top vote-getters would appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

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