Opinion: Clackamas County shouldn't forgo will of the people
- Donna Erbs, Jeanette DeCastro, Taylor Gibson, Lorreina Guyett, Joe KM, Shawn Neibaur, Ken Smith, Paul Sheprow and Cassie Wilson
On Aug. 11, Clackamas County commissioners voted 3-2, with Paul Savas and Mark Shull dissenting, to amend county code to give themselves the power to declare an emergency and have the board chair assume control of county public offices.
The key change in the code amendment of Chapter 6.03, Emergency Regulations, adds "malfeasance in office, or willful or wanton neglect of duty of a county public official, failure to meet statutory or regulatory requirements" to the definition of an emergency.
This code change is in response to County Clerk Sherry Hall's incompetence. During the May 2022 primary election, results were delayed due to blurred barcodes on Clackamas County ballots that had to be hand duplicated. Even more recently, the wrong Voters' Pamphlets were sent out for the Aug. 23 Special Election.
While we are frustrated by the mess Hall caused during the primary, the Board of County Commissioners should not be allowed to give themselves the power to overtake another elected official's duties. It is the responsibility of citizens to hold elected officials accountable with our vote. This overly broad code change leaves room for subjectivity, which current or future boards could misuse to undermine elections processes or that of other elected offices in the county. The current board and legal counsel already disagree over whether what happened during the May primary election could be considered an emergency under this new language.
Oregon has long been a leader for election accessibility and integrity, and this code amendment undermines that progress by giving the Board of County Commissioners authority to forgo the will of the people. Based on the public hearing, people from across the political spectrum agree that this amendment is overreaching.
If the Clackamas County commissioners want to hold Sherry Hall accountable, the best thing they can do is make sure she doesn't get reelected in November by supporting Hall's challenger, Catherine McMullen.
We deserve competency restored to our elections office. McMullen is an experienced elections administrator, lifelong public servant and proud union member from West Linn who will deliver accurate, secure, timely and accessible elections for Clackamas County citizens. Learn more at ClackamasVoice.org.
Donna Erbs, Clackamas
Jeanette DeCastro, Happy Valley
Taylor Gibson, Oak Grove
Lorreina Guyett, Damascus
Joe KM, Happy Valley
Shawn Neibaur, Oregon City
Ken Smith, Milwaukie
Paul Sheprow, Milwaukie
Cassie Wilson, Boring
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