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Our Opinion: Return Duyck to role as Washington County chairman

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 the incumbent to the county chairman's office. A quality challenger has stepped forward, but he hasn't convinced us of the need for change.

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.




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