Board Chair Jim Bernard also condemns white supremacy as national dialogue heats up

FILE PHOTO - Clackamas Board of County Commissioners: Ken Humberston, Paul Savas, Chair Jim Bernard, Martha Schrader and Sonya Fischer.Clackamas County leaders want the public they serve to know they're thankful for the resilience and strength they've shown in the face of great adversity.

This week, the board of county commissioners issued a statement regarding the tribulations all Clackamas County residents had to endure the past four weeks in dealing with destructive wildfires that destroyed homes and natural resources, as well as hazardous smoke that choked out the entire region. FILE PHOTO - Clackamas County

The statement — which was approved by the board Tuesday, Sept. 29 with only slight wordsmithing by the commissioners in changing one word — expresses the board's gratitude for the outpouring of support and neighborly actions many local citizens took when their community came under threat.

Words cannot express our relief that no lives to date were lost during the historic wildfires that have ravaged our county in the past weeks.

We realize that the safety and care of yourself, family and neighbors during this time was a community effort. Thank you.

Thank you for being quick to act, to follow evacuation orders and for taking care of one another. Your actions demonstrate that we are all Clackamas Strong. We are proud to serve you.

In Clackamas County, we're urban, suburban and rural. We live in the woods, rural areas and small towns that are adjacent to densely populated urban areas. This makes us unique. These past few weeks we have experienced the impacts of wildfires to our community. These massive infernos exposed our forests, devastated our communities, exposed us to hazardous smoke, evacuated thousands and destroyed homes.

We are committed to working with our state and federal partners to address the root cause of these wildfires in order to protect our community and to honor our natural resources. It is incumbent upon all levels of government to examine the causes of these mega fires and implement long-term solutions that will reduce the threat of wildfires.

Our top priority is protecting your safety and livelihood. We are supporting the firefighting efforts and making a path for your road to recovery. We want to work with you to strengthen our community and learn how we can better support you for the next time disaster strikes.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

Also this week:

During the board of county commissioner's business meeting Thursday, Oct. 1, County Chair Jim Bernard took a moment to read another statement he felt was appropriate considering public interest and inquiry.

According to Bernard, County Administrator Gary Schmidt was asked by a member of the public whether or not the board condones or opposes white supremacy. The topic is on the minds of many this week as national pundits on both sides of the political coin took statements made by President Donald Trump during the debate Tuesday night to mean different things.

Bernard — speaking to his fellow commissioners and county staff via Zoom — left no room for interpretation.

"I felt it was important to make sure that people understood internally and externally that we do not (condone white supremacy)," Bernard said. "It's not allowed here."

Bernard's full statement:FILE PHOTO - Clackamas County Chair Jim Bernard

In the past few months, our world has shown its cracks, manmade and otherwise, through the arrival of global pandemic and locally through horrific wildfires that have consumed much of our western landscapes. Our past collective actions have contributed to our current reality. We have the ability, however, to change our future through our own education and action.

All elected commissioners of Clackamas County represent different ideologies, different points of view and different opinions, yet we come to do our work each day with a commitment to work together to advance and improve the quality of life of all our residents.

We have spoken out together about racial injustice in our county and in the world. We are working to eradicate it, and to truly value every individual who calls Clackamas County home so that all of it, all of our residents may thrive. Our current political dialogue seems to leave the door open to white supremacy. I want to go on the record very clearly: that door is firmly closed in Clackamas County.

Thank you.

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