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Clackamas County Chairman John Ludlow unexpectedly stole the spotlight at the February meeting of the Westside Economic Alliance by pledging to work with other governments in the region.

Ludlow made the statement after being asked if he had any comments following a presentation on legislative priorities for the Port of Portland and Clackamas and Washington counties. Moderator Ed Trompke, a land-use attorney, singled Ludlow out in the audience as the meeting was winding down.

Standing to face the crowd of elected and business leaders, Ludlow admitted that many political observers thought the Clackamas County Commission would descend into chaos after he defeated Chairwoman Charlotte Lehan and Tootie Smith defeated Commissioner Jamie Damon in November. Ludlow countered that although the five-member commission had engaged in a few “spirited debates,” it had consistently come together to support the prevailing side.

“I’ve been on the losing side of a few 3-to-2 votes myself and I accept that,” Ludlow said.

Washington County Commissioner Andy Duyck thanked Ludlow for his comments, saying his appearance at the meeting heralded the opening of an ongoing dialogue over regional issues.

“I applaud the spirit of cooperation. We are a region. None of us stands alone,” Duyck said.

The question of the county’s role in the region arose after Gary Schmidt, its government affairs manager, said a majority of the commission would be in Washington, D.C., this week to lobby for the transportation priorities set by the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation of Metro, the elected regional government. Trompke pointed out that the commission does not support all of JPACT’s priorities. Ludlow and Smith ran against TriMet’s Portland-to-Milwaukie Light Rail Project, which JPACT endorsed.

Schmidt responded that Commissioner Paul Savas, the county’s representative on JPACT, had been allowed to state their position on the issues, then agreed to support the prevailing side. Ludlow concurred, saying that people can disagree without being disagreeable.

The WEA is a nonprofit organization comprised of governments and businesses in western Clackamas and Washington counties. It discusses current issues at monthly breakfast meetings at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Tigard.

In addition to Schmidt, the other presenters were Washington County government relations manager Jonathan Schlueter and Port of Portland regional government relations manager Lise Glacy. All three of them said preparing industrial lands for development, and increasing funding for public schools were top priorities of the 2013 Oregon Legislature.

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