Political veteran takes helm of Clackamas County GOP
A veteran political organizer and former executive director of Oregon's Republican Party has come out of retirement to lead the party in Clackamas County.
Margie Hughes, a retired Oregon City real estate broker and longtime political activist, was recently elected as chair of the Clackamas County GOP, and she plans to use her decades of experience advocating on behalf of conservative policy and values to help Republicans retain their hard fought, newly won influence.
"Voters in Clackamas County are looking for change. It's never been more evident than on the county commission," Hughes said, referring to major wins by both Chair-elect Tootie Smith and relative political newcomer Mark Shull on the November ballot.
"We feel Clackamas County has spoken. We don't want our beautiful county to turn into downtown Portland," she said. "The Republican Party is one of the only ways we can ensure that doesn't happen."
According to Hughes, some of the biggest concerns the party is hearing from constituents in Clackamas County are the taxes, transportation and homelessness. Getting kids back into classrooms following the COVID-19 pandemic is also high on the list of issues that strike a chord among conservative circles.
"The hardships that this is placing on parents who are trying to work and educate their kids are critical," she said. "Getting the county opened back up is going to take all of our elected officials."
For Hughes as party chair, that means continuing to recruit and retain active precinct committee persons throughout the Clackamas County who are committed to helping educate their neighbors about the party and its values. It also means recruiting community members active in water boards, school boards and other special districts in Clackamas County to start thinking about a run for public office.
"We've had a strong commitment to our farm team for at least the last 10 years in Clackamas County," Hughes said. "We've gone from, in the 2000s era, having most of the partisan races filled with Republicans, and we've lost ground. Now we're continuing to build on our farm team, but we need to effectively work on getting our partisan candidates elected also."
According to Hughes, her tenure as chair of the county party — the second time she's held the post — will be marked by dramatic changes that come with redistricting efforts set to take place following the 2020 Census. Oregon will potentially be receiving a sixth congressional district, and if that happens, it will likely mean major shifts for Clackamas County and the region at large.
Hughes, who was active with the party back in 1982 when Oregon received its fifth district, believes she's well equipped both in terms of institutional knowledge and experience to help lead redistricting efforts.
"Hopefully that will change the makeup of the (state) House and Senate districts," she said. "We're looking forward to it, and it's a great opportunity for Republicans to get involved."
Another opportunity Hughes is eyeing is to make a huge push in getting more non-affiliated voters to register as Republicans.
According to data from the Secretary of State's office, Democrats (106,271) hold an 18,500-voter advantage over Republicans (87,768) in Clackamas County. In fact, there are more non-affiliated registered voters in Clackamas County (93,265) than registered Republicans. Hughes hopes to change that with a grassroots efforts to show people what the party is all about and bring them into the fold.
"There are a lot of opportunities and a lot of work to be done," she said. "We're going to be reaching out to our precinct committee persons and encouraging them to testify in Salem and before the county commission to get involved, find out what government is all about, and then see where we can help make it better."
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