Former elections manager endorses Sherry Hall's opponent
Now released from any obligation to remain publicly silent on political matters, I'm happy to endorse Pamela White for Clackamas County elections clerk.
I've met and spoken with Pamela multiple times. Pamela deserves your vote. She possesses the competence, integrity and leadership the office of county clerk has missed in recent years.
Sherry Hall often references a 2009 audit which found the clerk's office to be "well run." This is true. The managers of the departments within the clerk's office are extremely qualified and engaged in their work. Sherry's own knowledge of elections management can best be described as superficial. Following are a couple recent examples of this:
1. A 2010 error led to reprinting of the county's ballots. This was a hard lesson most of us learned from, but Sherry was ready to make a similar error in 2016 with the Justice of the Peace race. Only when I received her permission to ask the Oregon State Elections Division if she or I was interpreting statute correctly did she back down and allow us to correctly program the ballots.
2. Shortly before my retirement, Sherry tried to explain the signature verification process to a reporter; her lack of understanding led to a newspaper article which misstated the process so badly that a clarifying response — initiated and mainly written by me but submitted under her name — was necessary.
Sherry states she returns thousands of unspent tax dollars to the county's general fund each year. This is true, but not due to any fiscal restraint on Sherry's part. The fact is, the annual elections budget allocation is designed to cover costs for elections known to be upcoming (like the primary and general elections) and those that might happen (special elections). Money is left over each year, because elections which could happen didn't happen. Money is not "saved" — it's simply not necessary to spend it.
Sherry also maintains she "keeps politics out of the office." This is not true. Space doesn't allow me to discuss smaller ways she hasn't "kept politics out of the office" so I'll concentrate on one major incident. Sherry used an elections employee to work on her 2014 campaign, during paid hours, without the employee's knowledge or consent. I was the employee. This is most certainly not "keeping politics out of the office." Sherry was eventually fined $100 by State Elections, a process which began after I confronted Sherry about the incident. I was told by State Elections that then-Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins herself telephoned Sherry and told her "in strong language" that what Sherry did was wrong. I was told by Jim Williams, who was the state elections director at that time, that Jeanne telephoned Sherry. Jim seemed very anxious for me to know that the state took the matter very seriously.
It was disappointing when, the last time Sherry and I discussed this incident, she maintained she'd done nothing wrong. It was also disappointing that, while I'd received excellent annual evaluations up to that point in time, I never received another evaluation. After this incident I was also denied further professional certification classes and regularly kept out of discussions with vendors and state officials. This contributed greatly to my decision to retire earlier than originally planned.
Pamela White will be very engaged in the department's work, will trust her managers' judgement, will not take credit for "savings" which don't exist and will genuinely "keep politics out of the office." Please cast your vote for Pamela White in May's election.
Steve Kindred was manager of Clackamas County's Election Division until he retired in late 2017.