It's hard to generate enthusiasm for an election that has just a scattering of candidates and measures on the ballot, but Clackamas County voters nonetheless have several decisions of consequence to make between now and 8 p.m. Tuesday.

There is nothing specifically related to Lake Oswego on the Nov. 8 ballot but there are several countywide ballot measures worth your consideration.

Early vote-by-mail returns in Clackamas County show just how sleepy this election has been: Only 20 percent of registered county voters had sent back their ballots as of mid-day Wednesday. That's only about 44,000 ballots.

The scene's much the same in areas where you might not expect it. The hot race in the Metro area are the primaries for Oregon's 1st Congressional District where Republicans and Democrats are fielding contenders to replace the disgraced and resigned David Wu. Ballot return numbers in key areas of Washington County were lagging even behind Clackamas County numbers.

Nationally, the race to replace Wu will be seen as a test of voter sentiment prior to the November 2012 election. As such, Republicans and Democrats should be motivated to put their best candidates forward - and the way to accomplish that is through broad voter participation. That motivation is being questioned right now.

In Clackamas County, voters should preserve the ability of rural communities to use the tool of urban renewal to encourage community development and new jobs. To do so, voters should approve Measure 3-388 and reject the competing Measure 3-386.

Also on the ballot for county voters is Measure 3-378, which would renew the current sheriff public safety local option that was approved by voters in 2006. This measure would continue to cost 24.8 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for county residents.

The levy won't increase taxes but will allow the sheriff's office to maintain 84 jail beds opened since passage of the first measure, retain about 19 patrol deputies and continue the department's expanded drug enforcement program.

Because we are an incorporated city, we don't see a lot of the sheriff's department in Lake Oswego. It's been a relatively quiet ballot measure over on this side of the Willamette River. Nevertheless, a measure that doesn't cost new money and provides extra jail space, patrol deputies and expanded drug enforcement is worth supporting. We recommend voters pass Measure 3-378.

Voters who still want to take part in the election should either mail their ballots in by Friday or take them to the ballot box located at the Lake Oswego Public Library, 706 Fourth St.

Ballots are due in by 8 p.m. Tuesday. Sooner would even be better.

This isn't the most interesting election in recent history but it does have important elements for voters to consider. We urge you to fill out your ballot and return it as soon as possible.

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