Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Our opinion: Former legislator would be the right fit to help a well-run county pivot toward the next challenges.

Ryan DeckertIn the race to select the next chair of the Washington County Commission, we endorse Ryan Deckert.

But this wasn't an easy call to make. Voters face four good candidates with differing qualities in differing degrees. Deckert gets our nod but the other three made him run a good campaign to get it, which is the way it should be.

Deckert is a known commodity. He served well in the Oregon Legislature for a decade. More importantly, he chaired the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee, always a briar patch of prickly politics, and handled it deftly. There are some skills that don't show up in the boxscore the day after the game; "good gavel skills" is one of them. To run a meeting of urban, suburban and rural lawmakers, representing conservative, moderate and liberal wings, is no small task. And in the Legislature, Deckert showed he had the goods.

He's a Democrat. But he also served as president of the statewide Oregon Business Association. County races are (allegedly) nonpartisan, but it's nonetheless true that a person who has bipartisan leanings will better serve a purple county like this one. If elected, Deckert would be the chair of the county for residents in Gaston and Timber, not just Beaverton and Tigard.

Two other candidates for the job represent a hopeful future and a robust and competent past for the county. We can endorse neither Shabba Woodley nor Bob Terry, but we're glad they ran.

Woodley is the face of Washington County's future. At least, he is if he stays here and stays politically involved (which we hope he does). He's bright, energetic and disarmingly honest about what he does and doesn't know.

Unfortunately, he got into politics at the wrong end; first running for Congress, then as chair of the County Commission. Neither are positions for first-time candidates just getting their political feet under them. We hope that Woodley finds a budget committee or a policy committee, gets some experience in the levers of politics, and then sets his sights on an elected position. We can't wait to endorse a more experienced, more knowledgable Shabba Woodley in the very near future.

Bob Terry served on the Washington County Commission Budget Committee for 14 years, and on the County Commission since 2011. By almost all measures, this commission is well run, has been a good steward of the public's money, and has helped make Washington County the economic engine of Oregon while growing into the most diverse county in Oregon. The current commission must get some of that credit.

Unfortunately, in many public appearances during this race, Terry has suggested that everything the county has done is right, nothing should change, and all suggested policy shifts are ill-conceived. That's just not the case.

The big issues in Washington County — the shortage of affordable housing, the vast influx of population and the traffic snarls — haven't been resolved, and some new thinking is needed.

Running on a platform of "everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds" didn't work in "Candide" and it won't work here.

That leaves the fourth candidate, Kathryn Harrington, who serves on the Metro Council. She's the most perplexing for us. She has a tremendous grasp of the short, snappy, bumpersticker-length responses to all issues, but we can't seem to find the next level of depth for any of them. She sounds like a candidate we'd be eager to endorse, but after every public appearance (and two debates that this newspaper helped coordinate), we don't think she's the big-picture thinker the county needs.

One job; four good candidates. This is an embarrassment of riches and the voters would be served well by any one of them. But Ryan Deckert stands out in the pack as the best of the bunch, as a proven consensus-builder, and as a big-vision kind of candidate.

We urge an "aye" vote for Ryan Deckert.

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