Voters in Washington County are in an enviable position.

They live in what’s been the most successful county in Oregon over the past 30 years in terms of creating high-quality jobs, investing in roads and schools and promoting a balanced approach to growth. The county has one of the lowest crime rates in the state, as well as one of the lowest unemployment rates. There have been no scandals, financial crises or high-profile squabbles like those seen elsewhere in the metro area.

With these facts in mind, it’s difficult to conclude that a major shift in direction is needed in county government. That’s why we believe voters should return incumbents to the county chairman’s office as well as to the county commissioner District 2 seat. Quality people have stepped forward to challenge these incumbents (and also Commissioner Bob Terry in western Washington County), but they haven’t convinced us of the need for change. Here’s a brief look at the races for county chair and District 2.

Washington County chair: Elect Duyck

Allen Amabisca, who is challenging Chairman Andy Duyck, offers alternative views that could prove valuable for the county and its future.

In the end, however, we could not find a compelling argument to toss out Duyck. He has done a solid job in the past four years. While he can’t take all the credit for the county’s economic upswing, he would certainly take the blame if businesses were fleeing the county instead of flocking here.

What’s more, he is part of a board that already is remarkably well-balanced, with some members a bit more focused on social programs, cultural initiatives and environmental issues, while Duyck and others have made economic development and infrastructure improvements their priorities.

Along the way, the board has continued a tradition of working well with local nonprofits, small and large businesses and, most importantly, local governments throughout the county.

Duyck has emerged as a regional leader. Despite his conservative-to-moderate leanings, he has supported light rail and mass transit. He hedged not at all in opposing the recent ballot measure in Tigard that requires city voters to give a thumbs up or down on any proposed mass transit project.

Also quite valuable is Duyck’s dual background in business as well as farming. He founded a machine shop in 1983 that, now three decades later, is still successful and provides good jobs for 20 people.

We appreciate that Duyck stepped forward to provide millions of dollars per year in Gain Share funds to schools in the county, which allowed districts to restore lost school days and rehire some teachers. He also played a key role in this year’s Grand Bargain, which restored some certainty to county land-use planning.

Amabisca, a former Intel manager, has taken the campaign seriously, and it’s clear he’s worked hard to get up to speed on county issues. In retrospect, it might have been wiser for Amabisca to run for a district seat on the board or get involved with county committees rather than trying to take on the chairmanship right away. We are impressed with Amabisca, but he’s not ready to take the helm of an agency with a $750 million budget and 1,700 employees.

Amabisca, however, should stay involved with the county. He has raised valid concerns in this campaign about the future of the fairgrounds and the responsibilities of local industries. With his long tenure at Intel, he could play a constructive role, even as an involved private citizen, in helping the county refine its process for allocating Gain Share revenue and getting a handle on how to better monitor emissions from Intel’s Washington County facilities.

Both candidates have good ideas. But only one can serve as county chairman. On the whole, it makes sense for voters to keep the county solidly on the effective path it has navigated for the past several years. Voters should cast their ballots for Andy Duyck as county chairman.

County commissioner District 2: Greg Malinowski

Malinowski had a solid first term on the county board, neither distinguishing nor embarrassing himself. On a five-member panel that prides itself on collaboration, Malinowski worked well with his colleagues.

His occupation as a small farmer — he and his family raise beef and hay on a 60-acre farm in Bethany — gives Malinowski valuable insight and credibility when the county deals with the ongoing tension between urban and rural residents. And his longstanding activism in North Bethany neighborhood politics ensures those residents have a voice on the board of commissioners.

While he has criticized some of the development in the county, Malinowski did pick up endorsements from the Portland Business Alliance and the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee — endorsements that show he is willing to listen to business concerns.

Our biggest reservation regarding Malinowski is that he joined fellow Commissioner Dick Schouten in endorsing the two challengers to Chairman Andy Duyck and Commissioner Bob Terry, a move that will make it harder to continue the collaborative spirit on the board.

Still, Malinowski is the clear choice over challenger Bob Zahrowski, a longtime Rock Creek resident who has worked as a utility manager, small business advisor and Portland State University professor. Zahrowski, a first-time candidate with limited civic involvement, has run a low-key campaign and has not demonstrated he is up to speed on county issues.

Voters in District 2, which includes Bethany, Cedar Hills, Cedar Mill, Raleigh Hills, Rock Creek and portions of Beaverton and Hillsboro, should re-elect Greg Malinowski.

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