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Letter-writers in The Times argue for candidates and values this May and beyond.

Editor's note: Have a letter to share? Email your thoughts to Editor-in-Chief Mark Miller at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Letters should be no more than 400 words. All submissions must include the name and hometown of the author. Commercial solicitations will not be accepted as letters to the editor. Submissions should not include profane or defamatory language. We may lightly edit submissions for style and clarity.

Amid change, Sherwood schools can't go backward

The Sherwood school board is changing. That is a natural process as older board members leave and younger ones come on. Sue Hekker is retiring at the end of this school year, and Jessica Adamson has announced that she will retire next year. I have worked with them for the past 16 years, working on the bonds that built the Ridges and the high school.

Sherwood had a major school overcrowding problem. It took 15 years, but it is now fixed. These board members were the leaders that made this happen. To make public education successful, the key value that should be agreed on is that all students and families need to be respected, valued and have a voice. This value needs to be acted on and taught in our schools.

There is a growing partisan movement across the country that does not believe in this value. They work to disregard the voices of various groups. What kind of school board will Sherwood have in a few years? Will they try to implement a "don't say gay" policy as some conservatives are doing in other states? Will they try to ban symbols they don't like, such as Black Lives Matter and the pride flag, as Newberg has done? Will they try to ban books and curriculum on inclusion and diversity, and reverse our progress in these areas?

These are skills that our students need to be successful and responsible citizens in a free country. I worry about what these fights, that try to deny the right of others to be even heard, will teach our kids.

We need to keep this out of Sherwood. Our reputation as a top school district in Oregon is very much on the line.

Michael Hiland, Sherwood

Elected officials blast Hutzler's misuse of quotes

As elected officials representing Washington County, we are writing to voice our strong concerns about the current Washington County auditor's false candidate statements.

Two quotes in the Voters' Pamphlet and on his website would have voters believing John Hutzler is endorsed by two Pamplin Media newspapers — the Hillsboro News Times and the Beaverton Valley Times — when in fact the source material is from a letter to the editor. The attribution on his website has been removed, but unfortunately, the misinformation in the Voters' Pamphlet cannot be corrected.

Read our April 15, 2022, story on John Hutzler misattributing quotes from an opinion writer to the Beaverton Valley Times.
Public trust in the election process is a fragile thing. We believe all candidates running for office should maintain a high level of integrity. Auditors in particular are the guardians of public trust in transparency and accountability and should be held to the highest standard of integrity. When that does not occur, it damages the public's confidence in government, the electoral process, and their engagement in our democracy. As elected officials and candidates ourselves, we believe in ensuring we meet the letter of election laws, rules, and instructions, and honor the spirit of transparency behind these. We also call upon candidates to use the recent example of the Washington County auditor's misleading statements as one not to repeat. Sen. Kate Lieber, Senate District 14 Sen. Janeen Sollman, Senate District 15 Sen. Akasha Lawrence-Spence, Senate District 18 Sen. Rob Wagner, Senate District 19 Rep. Brad Witt, House District 31 Rep. Maxine Dexter, House District 33 Rep. Dacia Grayber, House District 35 Rep. Rachel Prusak, House District 37

Servant-leader Aaron Woods has outstanding breadth

I'm supporting Aaron Woods for state senator because of the breadth of his leadership, experience, skills and knowledge, and his selfless commitment to serving others.

As a retired IT executive with an MBA, Aaron is skilled in finance and business. He's truly a servant-leader, serving as a Wilsonville planning commissioner and on many civic and charitable boards.

Aaron is experienced in government at all levels, active with community college boards and committees at the local, state, and national levels. He's already proactively reached out to leaders, so that planning is in place for federal Infrastructure funds, to improve Internet access statewide. Because of his experience in government and advocacy, he will hit the ground running as a senator.

As Past President of Oregon School Boards Association, I know the importance of a non-siloed approach to education. Aaron collaborates throughout the education spectrum in creating pathways to great jobs, a strong workforce, and improving our economy. He delivers, overseeing hundreds of CTE, internship/apprenticeship, STEM, healthcare, business and other community college programs.

Aaron is a veteran, from a union family, and is a husband, father and grandfather. He has an authentic commitment to equity and will serve us well.

Betty Reynolds, West Linn

Don't put the fox in charge of the chicken coop

Perhaps the most important vote Washington County citizens have in the upcoming May 2022 election is our choice for Washington County district attorney. And all voters who desire a leader of our District Attorney's Office who will seek both effective and humane enforcement of Oregon's laws on behalf of all of us, including the victims of crime, have only one choice. They should support the re-election of our current district attorney, Kevin Barton.

Before being elected as our district attorney, Kevin spent years specializing in the prosecution of child sexual abuse, establishing a record second to none in seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our community. As a former prosecutor myself, I know that the successful conviction of child molesters requires the utmost sensitivity in working with young victims and a real talent for presenting those cases in the courtroom.

In his first term, Kevin has effectively led his office in handling the various crimes which we citizens of Washington County unfortunately experience, including murder, robbery, burglary, child abuse, and theft. His success is why Washington County's sheriff and almost every police chief in the county have endorsed him, along with numerous mayors and other public officials.

We all know what's happened in Portland in the last several years. Part of the reason for the outrageous increase in lawlessness in what was once a nice city is that the voters of Multnomah County elected a district attorney whose priorities do not include enforcing the law. If we want to keep Washington County a relatively safe community for all of our inhabitants, we can't make the same mistake.

Brian Decker is running against Kevin Barton in the upcoming election. Mr. Decker apparently has other priorities besides keeping our community safe. He was the initial president and incorporator in July 2020 of an organization deceptively known as the "Washington County Justice Initiative" which calls for "abolishing the prison system," according to its current website. I wonder where Mr. Decker thinks the murderers, robbers, burglars, and child sex abusers of Washington County should go when our prisons are abolished? Putting Mr. Decker in charge of the District Attorney's Office is like electing the fox to run the chicken coop!

Please cast your vote for Kevin Barton for district attorney.

Charles Gorder, Tigard

Former Washington County judge backs Decker for DA

District attorneys have tremendous influence in the criminal justice system, as they formulate the charges and sentences that defendants face in court.

In my more than 21 years as a judge in Washington County, I observed that for most offenders, punishment alone — even when it's as strict as the law allows — fails to stop crime in the long run. That's why our community needs a district attorney who has a comprehensive approach to criminal justice, devising sentences that get to the root causes of crime while also holding people accountable. That candidate is Brian Decker, and he has my vote for Washington County DA.

Brian Decker and I both know that some people just need to be put away, and rehabilitation for them is not an option. But my courtroom experience showed me those people are few and far between. Much more common are repeat offenses spurring from addiction, mental illness, personal trauma, and economic strain.

Our current DA Kevin Barton can see these causes, too, but he has been slow to address them, under-utilizing rehabilitation, treatment, and community solutions for offenders who could benefit from it. He built his career on being "tough on crime," and too often prefers the blunt tool of incarceration. In many cases, that creates a perpetual cycle: Offenses pause while a person is jailed, and they go back to committing crimes once the sentence ends. We can't build a safer community that way.

Brian Decker, with his background as both a federal prosecutor and a public defender, understands how to use the entire criminal justice system, not just one type of punishment, to bring down crime. He is more willing and better able to be the leader who stops the revolving door of repeat offending in Washington County.

Gayle Nachtigal, Hillsboro

Voters have opportunity to protect children from big tobacco

The use of devices that dispense a nicotine-containing vapor, vaping, was introduced as an alternative to other nicotine-dispensing devices, such as patches, as an aid to quitting smoking.

Although there are indications that this can work for smokers, it is indisputable that vaping causes damage to the lungs, and that nicotine is highly addicting. Moreover, there is evidence that vaping increases the likelihood of future tobacco use.

It's for these reasons that preventing the use of nicotine-containing vaping devices by young people has been instituted in most jurisdictions.

After vaping became popular, tobacco companies bought up most of the small producers. The next development was the introduction of products with fruity or candy flavors; products known to be especially attractive to youths.

The industry began using synthetic nicotine to avoid federal restrictions on tobacco products; but synthesized in vats, or extracted from tobacco leaves, nicotine is nicotine — the most addictive drug known.

In response to these threats, Washington County would prohibit the sale of any flavored products meant to be heated and inhaled. Great — protects our kids lungs, and decreases long-term tobacco addiction.

Except that the threat to profits is too great, so the head of Plaid Pantry moved, with backing from big tobacco, to file an initiative to repeal the law.

Data on the Oregon Secretary of State website show that a company specializing in getting signatures, Grassfire LLC, was paid thousands of dollars to obtain enough signatures to qualify for the May ballot. Those same data show that Philip Morris and Reynolds Tobacco donated most of the cost of those operations. Not exactly a grassroots uprising.

But even with the Washington County ban, as pointed out by a Washington County commissioner, kids could still travel a short distance into Multnomah County to get their vapes. Not only should Washington County voters reject this initiative, but clearly, it's time for the entire state to take the path followed by Washington County, and stop the seduction of our children into the army of tobacco users.

Martin Mendelson, Portland

Chelsea King should lead in Oregon Senate

My name is Tracy Platt and I am a newly minted resident of Durham. After moving here, I was excited to learn that the communications coach who leads retreats for my workplace, Chelsea King, is running for state Senate.

I make it a point not to participate in partisan politics, which is why when I find someone who passionately and authentically serves others, I want to make my discovery heard.

I used to work for a school district doing nonprofit fundraising, meaning I know the determination and care it takes to collaborate and not burn out.

Beyond our shared experiences working for school districts, I've had the pleasure of experiencing Chelsea's stellar facilitating skills firsthand as one of her clients. I know that Chelsea is one of those individuals who will wholeheartedly represent everyone when she is elected to office.

In a time of such divisiveness, we must elect individuals with the heart and the skillset to truly listen to one another and establish the bipartisan relationships needed to get work done. I think Chelsea is the candidate to take Democrats across the finish line in November. That's why Democrats should vote for Chelsea on May 17.

Tracy Platt, Durham

Woods offers well-rounded experience for Senate

We need Aaron Woods as our state senator — someone who understands how government works from day one.

Woods serves on Wilsonville's planning commission, on the Clackamas Community College board, and many other boards and committees. He's built experience on how government works and how to make things happen.

Equally valuable, he has business experience, with a career in IT. Woods is a well-rounded citizen who volunteers regularly in the community.

A deciding factor in my choice on this important vote is the clarity of Woods' stated goals: technical education, high speed internet for all, affordable housing, and integrated senior services. These goals show an understanding of future challenges in keeping us economically viable and employed, which is important in keeping society stable.

Woods understands the importance of tech ed for those not going to four-year college, thus ensuring them the dignity of work; the significance of high-speed internet to keep folks current with today's world; and the necessity of affordable housing to keep people safe and off the streets. Comprehensive senior services are a must with the huge aging population.

I urge people to cast their vote for Aaron Woods, a candidate who will legislate with clarity for us all.

Susan Reep, Wilsonville

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