I have lived in Clackamas County for over 35 years and during this time, Sherry Hall has been the county clerk for almost half of them. The vast majority of the elections I have participated in have been administered by her. I have always been a very engaged voter around issues and public facing candidates, but I took for granted that the actual people who make sure our elections are secure, accurate, accessible and well-run were doing just that.
It is crucial for voters to have correct information about what we are voting for and where to drop off our ballots. On April 18, when I looked up the official drop box sites for Clackamas County on the clerk's website, the dates for the May primary election (May 17) read "October 14th-November 3rd, 2020." After digging around the site, I finally found that official ballot boxes open 20 days before the election, when the official date of the May election was, and then counted backward 20 days to find out the earliest I could actually drop off my ballot.
Sherry Hall has been doing this job for 20 years and she is not doing it accurately. As I researched her career, I began compiling a timeline of newspaper articles and media coverage on her elections-related mistakes and their cost to the taxpayers of Clackamas County. In nearly every election, Sherry Hall has made either an informational error, such as leaving key ballot measures off the ballot, or included false information that has resulted in having to reprint thousands of ballots, which cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Clackamas County's chair in 2010 said of this, "Ms. Hall neglected the single most important duty of her office -- to ensure that our elections run smoothly."
This is not a matter of ideology, but of basic competence by a fellow elected official.
State legislators make less than $40,000 per year to do the critical work of creating the laws for our state. They are compelled to run very public campaigns and face intense public scrutiny over their qualifications and their character. This is not the case with our county clerk.
Clackamas County's clerk earns an annual salary of over $110,000 and rarely makes the news during their electoral races. This means there is little, if any, public oversight or inquiry into the fitness of candidates running for this vital office in our democracy.
It is time for Clackamas County citizens to invest in their democracy by looking closely at the candidates running for county clerk in the Nov. 8 general election.
Sherry Hall came to the office of clerk in 2002 and has had 20 years to unsuccessfully prove her competence.
As of now, there are two registered candidates for the office of Clackamas County Clerk, Sherry Hall and Catherine McMullen.
McMullen is a certified elections administrator through the Oregon Association of County Clerks with a record of award-winning voter education initiatives and a track record of accurate, accessible and secure elections.
Sherry Hall does not have a campaign website and only offers the county-clerk job description in Voters' Pamphlet statements from past elections. Perhaps she thinks that by describing her job, she can do it.
Jaime Mathis is a resident of Oak Grove and works in education, policy and communications.
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