Bates responds to fundraising letter smears by incumbent Jim Bernard

by: FILE PHOTOS - Steve Bates, left, is challenging incumbent Jim Bernard for the Position 5 seat on the Clackamas County Commission.Steve Bates, who’s running for Clackamas County commissioner, says his opponent, incumbent Jim Bernard, has stooped to “lies and name-calling” in their race for the Position 5 commissioner’s seat, which voters will decide on May 20.

Bates was referring to a fundraising letter in which Bernard states, “My opponent has proven his alignment with Tea Party politics by affirming his anti-government, anti-responsible development and anti-transit stance.”

The letter also states that in the last election, “...two of my fellow commissioners were defeated by Tea Party candidates who received large campaign contributions from the Koch brothers and other right-wing conservative backers.”

Bates responded that he is not a member of any Tea Party group, he’s not anti-government, but anti-government waste, and that he believes Bernard was referring to current commissioners Tootie Smith and John Ludlow.

“None of that is true. I am anti-government waste, not anti-government. If I was anti-government I would not be running for county commission,” Bates said. “He is obviously trying to scare people to give him money so he can be elected. To use a smear campaign even against his own colleagues on the commission is demonstrating his inability to be a coherent and effective commissioner.”

Bernard could have addressed his accomplishments, Bates said, but instead chose to go on the attack.

“He has chosen to smear other people, which demonstrates he has no accomplishments to talk about,” he said. “I am truly disappointed in Mr. Bernard’s approach to campaigning. I honestly thought we were going to be able to talk about the issues at hand for Clackamas County rather than contending with lies and inuendo.”

In his letter, Bernard went into specifics with his criticism of Bates.

“He led the withdrawal of TriMet service to the Boring community, the dissolution of the Highway 26 Greenway Corridor Agreement as well as spearheading efforts to stop a future freeway style interchange at 267th Avenue and Highway 26, despite safety concerns by ODOT. He is also currently leading a push to withdraw the Boring community from Metro.”

All those things are true, Bates said, but as president of the Boring Community Planning Organization, he said his motivation is doing what is best for the Boring community.

For starters, TriMet service to Boring was terrible, buses didn’t run when they were needed and it was too expensive for the Boring business community to continue to subsidize empty buses. Bernard disagreed, Bates said, and it took an appeal to the state Legislature for Boring to be able to opt out of TriMet.

As for the Greenway Corridor Agreement, Bates said it would require landowners in Boring along Highway 26 to plant vegetative screening, which would amount to giving up 50 feet of their property, Bates said.

“The government can’t take property and it must pay you for it. There was no means for paying property owners.”

As for opposing the freeway interchange, Bates said the design was terrible and would cut off the ability of people from Boring to enter Highway 26 at 267th Avenue.

“The issue was that we were against closing down 267th Avenue for the people of Boring,” he said. “We’re one of the few communities that got ODOT to back off, because ODOT realized what we had to say was right.”

The allegation that Bates is leading a petition to withdraw from Metro also is true, Bates said, but it’s only because he is interested in the future of Boring.

“Half of Boring is in Metro and half is outside,” he said. “In the event that we became a city we would have to have two comprehensive plans, one for Metro and one not for Metro.”

The Boring CPO voted to endorse the petition to withdraw, Bates said, and he is the lead petitioner.

“My goal is to make sure the future for Boring does not present the same type of situation they have in Damascus,” he said. If we were to have two different plans in Boring, I can imagine the kind of strife we’d have. We need to make sure the future is clean so whoever is in charge at that time is able to govern appropriately.”

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