Why the Clackamas County rebellion?

by John Ludlow

The people of Clackamas County have been under assault by their own County Commission. Let’s examine how the commissioners continue to subvert the will of the voters.

1st strike…The Clackamas County Commissioners tried to put a vehicle licensing tax on county residents in order to pay $22 million for the replacement of the Sellwood Bridge in Multnomah County. Fortunately a citizen’s initiative required it to be voted on. The measure stopped the tax with a 63% plurality.

2nd strike…The citizens placed a measure on the ballot to require a county-wide vote on the creation of Urban Renewal taxing districts. These districts take millions of dollars from schools, fire & police protection, libraries and cities. The commissioners reacted by putting up a “companion” measure which would have allowed only the small amount of people IN a proposed district to vote on the use of county-wide taxes. The citizen’s measure surpassed the commissioner’s measure with over 70% approval.

3rd strike…When the Clackamas County Commissioners refused to put the question of light rail to the voter, the citizens again gathered enough signatures to put the question to the voters on this September 18. Measure 3-401 will require county-wide voter approval for Portland light rail to enter Clackamas County. Four of the County Commissioners have stated that the vote doesn’t matter, the rail is coming. In a hurried meeting on August 22 a majority of commissioners, knowing Measure 3-401 will pass overwhelmingly, voted “yes” to pay TriMet in full before the public has a chance to vote on the issue.

Three strikes, and they need to be out. On my website take a look at the August 1 debate between Chair Lehan and myself. During the entire debate Ms. Lehan never mentioned the words “voter” or “taxpayer,” instead favoring “regional partners” and “the plan.” They have a plan; your wishes are just not part of it.

The voter initiatives and the Clackastani movement are more than about bridges, light rail and the misuse of urban renewal. What we have is a rebellion against the gradual and continual eroding of our freedoms. Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle said: “Men seldom rebel against anything that does not deserve rebelling against.”

Why the rebellion? Let’s evaluate where we stand:

  • The citizens of the City of Damascus are trying to keep their town’s identity. They are bucking the high density residential “plans” that METRO and Clackamas County have for them.
  • The citizens of Boring are chaffing at a Clackamas County and ODOT illegally taking of lands along Highway 26.
  • Lake Oswego doesn’t want METRO’s high density or TriMet’s light rail.
  • Oak Grove wants to keep their library and were never told, in the last county library election, that they would lose it.
  • Estacada put their foot down and said that they would vote on the use of all future Urban Renewal taxes. Gladstone did the same. Oregon City will vote on the issue on November 6th.
  • The commissioners handed Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts an eviction notice from his North Station building, ordering deputies to get out so the lucrative Justice Court could move in. The Clackamas County Commission unfairly did this considering deed restrictions require the property to be used only for public safety.

This IS a rebellion. It’s time for reform. It’s time to stand up and be bold. Vote “yes” on Measure 3-401 and vote “yes” for John Ludlow for Clackamas County Chair. It is the job of the Clackamas County Commissioners to represent the will of the majority, at which most of them have failed miserably. When elected, I will continue as I have begun — on the side of the voters.

John Ludlow has served as a Wilsonville City Councilor, Wilsonville Mayor and Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce President, and he is running for Clackamas County Chair