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Catherine McMullen: Important but overlooked clerk's office conducts elections, can choose to officiate weddings.

Local elected officials count. Our many local elected officials — city councilors, Clackamas County commissioners and county clerk — make the decisions that have the biggest impact on our daily lives, from how to enact policy to setting budgetary priorities, from planning for emergencies to making decisions on day-to-day operations. Your local elected official is your direct link to local government and community level decision-making.Catherine McMullen

Local elections count. These local offices that make the most direct impact on your daily life will be found further down your ballot, after the federal and state positions, and even after the state judges. These are also nonpartisan offices with no party affiliation after the candidate's name.

Many voters forget to vote across the whole ballot or don't feel as prepared to vote for local races. The same effort, funds or media coverage is not put into City Council races as the governor's race. Accurate and trustworthy information about local contests and candidates is more difficult to find.

As an experienced elections administrator and former public librarian, I recommend these nonpartisan resources for evaluating local candidates:

• Candidate statements in the state and county Voters' Pamphlet. This pamphlet is mailed to all households mid-October and is available online at clackamas.us/elections.

• The League of Women Voters' guide and candidate interviews are available online at Vote411.org.

• Election coverage in established and trusted media such as the local newspaper and news stations. You can do a Google search for the candidate or race and filter results by news.

• Consulting with trusted family, friends and neighbors. Voting is an act of community care and civic engagement.

Vote across your ballot. In the Clackamas County clerk contest, I urge you to use the resources above and make an informed choice for our next county clerk. This important but overlooked office conducts elections, oversees the recording office and can choose to officiate weddings. The county clerk is the critical connection between citizens and their local government. This November we have the opportunity to elect a county clerk that will ensure that local government works for us again, but we have to vote!

In 2018, the last time the current clerk was up for reelection, more than 52,000 voters left the county clerk race blank, choosing neither candidate. Clerk Sherry Hall won reelection by only 5,921 votes. That is a 35% undervote in a race that was won by less than 4%. What that means is that almost two out of every five voters who turned in their ballots sat out on making a choice for county clerk, the very office that is responsible for issuing, verifying and counting that ballot.

Tuesday, Oct. 18 is the voter-registration deadline for the Nov. 8 general election. Ballots begin to be mailed to voters the next day. I urge you not to sit out on these important local decisions, but to step up and make an informed choice for county clerk so that we can have the timely, transparent and trusted elections all Clackamas County citizens deserve.

Catherine McMullen lives in West Linn with her family, works as a certified election administrator and is a candidate for Clackamas County clerk.


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