DuyckAllen Amabisca, an Intel financial analyst whose last day on the job is Friday, Jan. 31, will run against Washington County Board of Commissioners Chairman Andy Duyck in the May primary election.

AmabiscaAmabisca serves as volunteer treasurer for the Save Helvetia organization, a coalition of residents working to protect the northern Washington County community and its neighboring agricultural lands. He also is treasurer of the Helvetia Community Association, and previously served on the West Union Elementary School Board.

A group of Amabisca supporters launched his campaign on the evening of Jan. 30 at Helvetia Tavern.

“I will be a county leader who invests in families, not special interests,” Amabisca said. “We’re long overdue for a leader that cares more about schools and sidewalks than he does about land speculators.”

Amabisca’s challenge comes amid criticisms that the current members of the county commission have favored development over preservation.

Duyck, who was first elected to the county board in 1994, is seeking a second four-year term as chairman.

Duyck said he found out that Amabisca would be his opponent around noon Tuesday.

“I don’t know him,” Duyck said. “But it’s kind of ironic. A couple months ago, we appointed him to the county’s Rural Roads Operations & Maintenance Advisory Committee. Two commissioners said they didn’t want to appoint him, and I was the one who said it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Duyck said he was not surprised another candidate has stepped up to run.

“As chair, I wouldn’t expect to be unopposed. But nothing changes, really,” Duyck said. “Regardless of who files, it just gives us the opportunity to talk about what’s going right in Washington County. It doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges, and we’ll continue to work on those.”

Amabisca, who was responsible for global accounts payable processes for Intel and helped manage billions of dollars of expenditures for the global company, said the current commission has “frittered away tens of millions of dollars on trophy projects that leave our schools, our public safety and our communities on the short end of the stick.”

“We can have a successful county that supports businesses and families,” Amabisca said. “We can have the best schools in the state, the best work force in the state and the most productive farmland in the state.”

Duyck said he relished the opportunity to respond to some of the criticisms being leveled at him regarding growth in the county.

“I’m just going to make my case and let the voters decide,” Duyck added. “I do look forward to challenging some of the statements being made. There is a big difference between sprawl and growth. We don’t have sprawl; we do have growth.”

As a longtime Intel employee, Amabisca has an interesting perspective on the tax breaks large corporations receive to encourage expansion of economic activity in the county.

“Gain Share was established to make sure the county and the city aren’t harmed when we use our economic development tools to create jobs. I support that concept,” he said. “The problem with Gain Share in Washington County is that while we’re getting money from the state, we’re wasting it. Twenty percent of our county budget goes to public safety, yet none of our Gain Share dollars are going to public safety. I would take our county Gain Share dollars and invest them in core county services, rather than trophy projects our county doesn’t need. That would mean an investment in schools, public safety, housing and core infrastructure projects.”

With the entry of Amabisca into the race, all three incumbent Washington County Commissioners up for re-election this year are now being challenged in races billed as determining the future of the county.

Three candidates are supported by a political action committee comprised of Democrats and liberal political activists. The Washington County Action PAC is supporting incumbent Commissioner Greg Malinowski and opposing Chairman Andy Duyck and Commissioner Bob Terry, according to its Facebook page.

Terry is being challenged by former Democratic 1st District U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Furse, who is also a member of the Save Helvetia board. Malinowski faces a challenge from Bob Zahrowski, an Oregon Institute of Technology professor and business consultant.

Although the vast majority of commission votes are unanimous, many activists say the board is split three-to-two, with the majority — Duyck, Terry and Roy Rogers — generally favoring development over environmental preservation. Malinowski and Dick Schouten are perceived to be more sympathetic to environmental concerns.

As word of Amabisca’s candidacy spread Tuesday evening, the Duyck campaign released a list of Washington County mayors who have endorsed Duyck’s re-election bid. The list includes Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey; Forest Grove Mayor Peter Truax; Banks Mayor Pete Edison; Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle; North Plains Mayor David Hatcher; and Cornelius Mayor Jef Dalin. The Hillsboro Area Chamber of Commerce also has endorsed Duyck, according to the Duyck campaign’s press release.

“Chair Duyck has brought sensible solutions to the county that have built a more responsive, functional and transparent county government,” wrote Willey. “His commitment to the county has helped make Washington County a statewide leader in job growth, from some of our largest companies to the small mom and pop shops.”

Amabisca said the endorsements were not important in the long run.

“Incumbents tend to endorse incumbents,” Amabisca said. “My job is to persuade Washington County residents that the current leadership is stale and that it is time for a different approach. When we win, we expect to get the same support from these very mayors, and until then, I will work hard every day to reach out to people across the county.”

Lyle Spiesschaert, a fourth generation Washington County farmer, said he agrees with Amabisca’s views on land-use issues.

“Allen understands that we don’t need to choose between our world class farmland and our economic prosperity; they actually complement each other,” said Spiesschaert, who farms just north of Forest Grove High School and is active in the county’s Fair Boosters organization. “Washington County could benefit greatly by a new vision; one that values citizen input and balances our limited resources for the benefit of all.”

— Jim Redden contributed to this report.

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