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Also in this week's News-Times letters to the editor, readers sound off on the election and local school districts.

Editor's note: Have a letter to share? Email your thoughts to Editor-in-Chief Mark Miller at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Letters should be no more than 400 words. All submissions must include the name and hometown of the author. Commercial solicitations will not be accepted as letters to the editor. Submissions should not include profane or defamatory language. We may lightly edit submissions for style and clarity.

Hutzler unjustly accused

Pamplin Media has not endorsed in the race for Washington County auditor, and I do not claim their endorsement. [Ed.: This letter was received prior to Pamplin Media Group's endorsement of Kristine Adams-Wannberg for auditor.]

To include a previously published quote in the Voters' Pamphlet Candidate Statement, Form JCVP-01 requires that a candidate reference the name and date of the publication in which the statement appeared, which I did.

Form JCVP-02 specifies the format for including a previously published statement as an endorsement. The required language to attribute a quote to the Pamplin Media Editorial Board is "'John Hutzler is the clear choice to remain Washington County Auditor.' Pamplin Media Editorial Board, Beaverton Valley Times, March 3, 2022." I did not submit this statement as an endorsement.

The Elections Department strictly enforces the specifications for a candidate statement and has confirmed that, for the statement I submitted, Elections requires a reference, not an attribution.

I regret that following those detailed instructions created the impression that I was claiming an endorsement by Pamplin Media. My intention was only to identify when and where these statements were published, not to attribute the statements to Pamplin's Editorial Board. The suggestion that, by following those instructions, I intentionally mislead voters is unfair and unsupported by the facts.

When Pamplin Media brought their concerns to my attention, I promptly contacted Washington County Elections. It was too late to amend the Voters' Pamphlet, but I recommended that, to avoid such problems going forward, Elections should revise Form JCVP-01 to require that previously published quotes be attributed to their author, in addition to citing the publication in which they appeared.

John Hutzler

Auditor, Washington County

Decker is the candidate for change we need

Washington County needs a change in the district attorney office.

Kevin Barton says, "You get more of the same if you vote for me." As a Hillsboro resident, I don't want more of the same, I want our county to do better.

What we have been doing isn't working. In recent years, violent crime has gone up, community trust has gone down, punishments have spiraled out of control, and there's been a notable lack of transparency from DA Kevin Barton's office.

As both a former prosecutor and public defender, Brian Decker has a balanced understanding of how the justice system works. As district attorney, Brian will focus on:

• Real safety and accountability. Anyone who commits a crime will be held accountable.

• Prioritizing prevention. Addiction, mental illness, and poverty with no safety net or exit pathways are the real drivers of crime. Smart public safety solutions means addressing these issues before crimes occur. Otherwise perpetrators and victims of crimes simply cannot escape the trap of familiar patterns.

• Trust and transparency. Building community trust in law enforcement is fundamental. Brian Decker is committed to ethically and fairly enforcing the law — without deceptive practices or racial discrimination.

A vote for Brian Decker is a vote for change: real safety and true justice.

Debby Garman, Hillsboro

Banks student's case for legalizing 'clean drugs'

Imagine a story where you are addicted to any hard drug, and you need to go to random untrusted people to get drugs whilst also trying to keep a secret, and spending lots of money. Then you overdose and spend all the money you can on helping yourself.

This is the reason people should be able to get clean drugs. This is why drugs should be legal and available for people to stay healthier and safer from danger.

Drug overdoses have become a problem lately, specifically opioid use. In fact, 70.9% (49,680) have been from opioid use according to the CDC in 2019.

The U.S could consider making drugs legal and making rehab cheaper/free. Furthermore, you may think that this claim is insane, but I have information that provides context.

In the 1990s, Portugal was going through a drug crisis which derived from strict laws; 1% of the population was hooked on heroin, people would shoot up on the streets and overdose all the time, plus prisons were filled from drug charges. Portugal's response decriminalized all drugs in 2001. Drug dealers would still be arrested, but found within 10 days of any drug would just have you sent to a lawyer or doctor to review medical help options. This indicates that it helped their entire problem, and chances are, it would help ours.

In addition, giving clean drugs would lower the risk of overdoses with laced drugs. Typically, fentanyl, an opioid, is put in many drugs because it is cheap and easy to get.

In conclusion, we need to help the drug crisis to save many people in the U.S. and lower addiction and overdose, which is a significant problem.

Gunnar Ballard, Banks

Banks School District needs more money

More money for Banks School District would be very helpful, because if we had it, we could get better supplies, repair the schools, and hire more teachers to help the students in need of extra help. Currently, we don't have a music teacher, and now me and my band cannot practice as often.

Have you ever broken a pencil and there wasn't a spare around? That is a common occurrence in Banks High School. With more money this problem could be fixed, and people won't be unable to finish their work. Therefore, teachers would also have less distractions as there would be no need to search for supplies.

Currently, the high school is not in great condition. It indicates a potential safety hazard. There are lots of broken things around the school, and should be repaired to prevent injury. If the school had more money, this could be fixed.

Another issue is a lack of student assistance. There isn't enough help available to those who have a harder time focusing and interpreting information. If we had a bigger budget we could hire more people to assist teachers so they could focus more on teaching.

Some people would respond with, "We can learn with what we already have." However, we can't learn if the supplies and tools won't function. Stating that without proper assessment is unfair. School is important, and in order for it to be successful, you need a good environment.

In conclusion, the school is not in the best condition, and more money for a bigger budget would be a big help. I, as a student, feel that the school is not in a good condition and that students are having a hard time learning. We could fix it with a significantly bigger budget.

Henry Vanderzanden, Banks

Beaverton schools haven't earned vote for bond

I am a senior citizen on a fixed income.

I have supported every school bond issue put forward by the Beaverton School District in the past 30 years. I am "pushing pause" on the current bond proposal and voting no.

I pay $4,703 in real estate taxes, and $1,500 of that goes to the Beaverton School District, and now they want more.

I am not convinced they have been good stewards of the tax payer's money and at a minimum are tone-deaf to go forward with this proposal at this time. Inflation is high, we are all loosing on our retirement accounts and millions of COVID relief dollars have been funneled to schools. I know these were one-time dollars, but these funds could have used to buy new "computers and upgrade HVAC systems." Enrollment is down in our district by 2,000 students, and this additional money will do nothing to reduce class sizes.

Lastly, I attended virtual board meetings during COVID and begged for schools to reopen with precautions, yet Oregon was nearly dead last in opening schools and the Beaverton school board was mostly silent on the issue. My grandchildren and many others suffered; while the Beaverton school board may have forgotten or ignored how their decisions impacted families, I have not and am not in a "giving mood."

Marcia Callender, Beaverton

State rep supports Decker for DA

As a state representative and as a nurse practitioner, I understand the significance of holding a position of trust. It's a solemn duty to be responsible with the influence I have as a lawmaker and as a caregiver, and it's crucial that I trust and respect the people I serve.

It's from this perspective that I am alarmed by the failure of Washington County's district attorney to bring charges against the man accused of sexually assaulting 27 women incarcerated at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility.

I'm disheartened that the perpetrator was a health care worker abusing his authority. His victims were failed again when DA Kevin Barton and his staff did not conduct a robust investigation of the reports of abuse. They seemed to dismiss the validity of the accusations because they came from women with criminal records. In fact, Barton's deputy reportedly described the victims and their claims by saying, "Even if it happens, no one believes them." That tells me the office needs new leadership.

The pursuit of justice is for everyone. It should not be withheld when the victim has a troubling past or a criminal history. In fact, those attitudes embolden abusers, allowing them to intentionally target victims who will have a harder time getting anyone's support if they disclose they were victimized. Our local district attorney should understand this manipulation for what it is and stay clear-eyed in examining the facts.

Instead, it seems the current Washington County DA remained unmoved by the evidence collected in the Coffee Creek case by the victims' lawyer and the Oregon State Police. When leaders do not trust the people they are expected to protect, they erode their own value to our community.

The people of Washington County deserve a DA who will seek justice for every victim. For this reason, I am supporting candidate Brian Decker for District Attorney.

Rachel Prusak

State Representative, House District 37

Justice matters to everyone but DA Barton

It's reasonable to expect the district attorney to play by the rules. To be firm, fair and impartial in matters of justice.

However, Kevin Barton has a different view. To him, the DA exists to punish people he doesn't like and to let the people he likes off the hook.

Barton's first test came in 2018, and he failed miserably. A certain Deputy Rian Alden committed two counts of second-degree assault. In plain language, an inmate was beaten to the point of brain damage because said inmate got mouthy with said deputy.

The Oregon State Police investigated the incident and found the deputy in the wrong. But when the findings were presented to Barton, no charges were filed! That is, until the video was viewed on the news. [Ed.: Alden is awaiting trial on assault and official misconduct charges. The misconduct charge was filed before the video became public.]

Barton is extremely proud of his conviction rate. Because, to him, it's like a scorecard. But who does he convict? The poor, the homeless, and the minority all better run. But the people Barton protects need not worry at all.

C. Jack Callahan, Aloha

Calling for a new approach in DA's Office

Our justice system needs reform. Accountability is demanded from the powerless, but seems optional for corporate interests and well-funded defenses. Punishments tend to be excessive and unproductive. We need change, a return to expectations of accountability for all.

Here's my vision, and my standard for Washington County's next district attorney:

• Stop measuring justice in numbers of convictions. Prosecutors obsessed with winning will favor trials against people unable to mount an expensive defense.

• Focus on protecting from fraud, grievous harm, and theft at every level. Go after bank financiers or heads of corporations as readily as the DA prosecutes small-time burglary.

• Be smarter with sentences. Incarceration costs are between $14,000 and $70,000 per year per, draining state and county resources. Turn to evidence-proven diversion and prevention programs for nonviolent infractions.

I want a better justice system. The U.S. has about 4% of the world's population and about 20% of the world's prisoners. Injustices have deepened the divide between the entitled "haves" and the rest of us.

The stakes are high. Without real change, I fear we will stop being a functioning society. When you cast your vote for DA, make the choice that will restore our sense of fairness and justice. I ask you to vote for Democrat Brian Decker.

Heather Rode, Helvetia

Who do you want leading Washington County?
This May, we get to choose the next Washington County Board of Commissioners chair. When selecting who I vote for, the most important question is their approach to governance and their ability to work with peers and regional partners like Sherwood and other cities in Washington County. Why is this race important to Washington County and cities like Sherwood? Here is just one example. We are experiencing significant safety issues on critical roads in Sherwood. Like Edy and Elwert, many of these roads are owned and maintained by the county. To solve congestion and safety issues, we need a solid, effective, and timely partnership from the county. Without that partnership, it is challenging to effect positive change. We need leadership at the county that promotes partnership over mandates and results over headlines. We need leadership that genuinely represents the desires and needs of the communities, not just a few special interest groups with self-serving agendas. We need leadership that understands and embraces a proactive partnership with cities like Sherwood to solve the challenges that affect all of us.

There is no "one size fits all" solution to challenges like congestion, public safety, and homelessness. Instead, we have to work together to determine what works best in each community. Our current county chair is not that kind of partner. Over the last four years since Kathryn Harrington was elected, we have seen a shift away from a tradition of regional partnership. Collaboration has given way to mandates and tactics designed to minimize public and regional input that might oppose her agendas. Unfortunately, these are the same tactics we have seen infest Metro, Salem, and our federal government. We need a change at Washington County; we need a return to the "Oregon Way." We need leadership that embraces all good ideas regardless of where they come from. We need proactive engagement that aligns with our diverse communities and cities, not just the special interests that fund campaigns. So many people talk about the "Oregon Way," few embrace it. This is why I am endorsing Beach Pace for Washington County Chair. Beach Pace is a veteran and West Point graduate. She currently serves on the Hillsboro City Council. She has a pragmatic, direct approach to problem-solving that leans heavily on collaboration and partnership. Sherwood needs this kind of leadership at Washington County. Beach is committed to the "Oregon Way." Don't believe me; just look at who has endorsed Beach versus the incumbent Kathryn Harrington. Ten mayors in Washington County have endorsed Beach. Only Two mayors have endorsed Kathryn Harrington. That says it all. The majority of Kathryn Harrington's endorsements come from Salem and D.C., not the people in Washington County that are on the front lines of creating positive change in our communities. So, who do you want leading Washington County? Tim Rosener

President, Sherwood City Council


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