Business as usual or a change for the better?

That's the question Clackamas County voters are faced with in the three-way race for Clackamas County Commissioner, pitting incumbent Republican Larry Sowa against current Lake Oswego City Councilor Lynn Peterson, a Democrat, and former West Linn Mayor David Dodds, an Independent.

Let's make one thing clear before saying anything else: A vote for Dodds would be a horrible, horrible mistake. To understand why, simply look at the damaged legacy he left behind in West Linn, his inability to work with citizens and the media and his brisk, micro-management style. There are two legitimate candidates in this race and Dodds is not one of them.

Incumbent Sowa switched party alliance in September 2005 just as Peterson was announcing her intent to enter the race. Was it to avoid a confrontation in the primary? Perhaps.

Regardless, in this race between Sowa and Peterson, the decision comes down to who will get the most done? Who has the greatest vision? Who will work best with fellow commissioners, county staff and residents? In our view, the answers are Peterson, Peterson and Peterson.

The Willamette River cuts a broad swath through Clackamas County. The river also represents a type of symbolic line between where most county services are provided (the east side of the river) and where they are not.

We are not trying to make Lake Oswego and West Linn out to be have-nots because clearly that is not the situation.

But there can be little question that with Peterson on board, there would be a renewed interest in what Clackamas County could do for west side residents.

And as we look ahead to the problems facing the county - and there are many - it's best to remember that this side of the river needs to be part of the equation.

We have not been all that impressed with the current state of county government. The price tag on Damascus is escalating rapidly, transportation needs are overwhelming, the population is booming and county services are scattered and hard to track down.

Peterson has attainable visions for the county and understands the need to make it more of a regional player. Clackamas County needs new leadership and more governance if it's going to prepare for the growth, transportation and other challenges it faces.

It's time for a change in county government. In the Nov. 7 election, vote Lynn Peterson to make that change happen.

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