Clackamas County Commissioner-elect Mark Shull has been busy since his November election win as he prepares to assume his role on the board come January.
He recently met with County Administrator Gary Schmidt to get a crash course on several topics currently facing the county, as well as working with his staff policy advisor Caroline Hill to gain a better understanding of some of the issues the board plans to take up in the coming months.
But for Shull, perhaps his most important preparation is the list of organizations he's compiling including county business interests, government agencies, nonprofits and advocacy groups.
Shull's idea is to meet with as many different types of groups operating in Clackamas County as he can before the end of his first four months in office to hear about their concerns, their triumphs and their goals from the future.
"I've realized the responsibility that I have to shape the direction of the county in a way that is going to support the needs and desires of everybody in the county," Shull said.
According to Shull, he was thrilled to receive the trust and endorsement of his ideas from more than 93,000 voters in Clackamas County in November, but his goal is to deliver a message that he's ready to work on behalf of everyone and that everyone's voice matters equally. Shull said it's important to him that those in the county who feel their voices haven't been heard in the past continue to speak up, because he says he's committed to hearing and uplifting their opinions.
"No matter how poor or wealthy, young or old, no matter what their issue is, I want them to feel comfortable contacting me, letting me know what their concerns are and I will ensure that I get back to them each and every time," he said. "Email, phone call, a letter, whatever it might be. If they have a concern, I am truly concerned, and I'm going to take action."
Shull said that one area of interest he's particularly excited to get to work on is helping the county identify critical tasks in areas that align with its strategic plan — Performance Clackamas — in order to provide tangible results for residents to see progress that's being made. Shull said he's heard from many county residents who feel that the county is "spinning its wheels" on issues that are important to people such as housing affordability, transportation and holding off new taxes and regulations.
He also wants to ensure that he has his finger on the pulse of local businesses, both large and small, to better understand what type of support the county can offer to keep them operating here, as well as to attract new businesses.
"I want to know what I can do to make our county a place where businesses not only make payroll every month, but actually can work toward a profit and have the attitude that this is the place to be," he said. "I know that in 2020 some businesses have looked elsewhere. I don't want them to do that. I want them to be happy operating in Clackamas County because if we have a vibrant, productive and profitable business community, I know that the chances for our people to get good jobs will increase. That's what I'm about."
According to Shull, he hasn't had a lot of time or opportunity to begin building relationships with his new colleagues, but he did receive very cordial calls from them the week following his election.
Shull said that while he doesn't expect everyone to agree with him all the time or on every issue, he believes he has some qualities of an experienced statesman in that he knows how to articulate his ideas in a respectful and constructive way, and he expects the same from his colleagues.
"I'm sure that my relationships with my fellow commissioners are going to be very, very positive," he said.
Despite 2020 being a rough year for many people in Clackamas County and across the nation, he believes that if everybody embodies the spirit of the holiday season by expressing love and joy toward each other, we can collectively enter 2021 feeling refreshed and with a sense of positivity about the future.
Shull hopes to exemplify that positivity as he takes his seat as a county commissioner. One way he plans to stay committed is by focusing on positive outcomes for residents as a measure of his effectiveness and success as a leader.
"At the end of the year, two years or four years, whatever it might be, when the people in the county look back on when Mark Shull became commissioner, if they can say that they are a little bit closer to achieving their dreams, you know, buying that house, finishing college, getting married and starting a family, or whatever their dream is, then I will feel successful," he said.
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