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West Linn resident first to announce candidacy for position responsible for conducting elections and keeping public records

West Linn resident Catherine McMullen has begun fundraising for her campaign to become the next Clackamas County clerk.COURTESY PHOTO: PATRICK BARTON - Catherine McMullen

McMullen is the first candidate to announce her campaign for the position and set up fundraising efforts. After Sept. 9, candidates will be able to file to appear on May 2022 primary ballot.

Clackamas County's clerk, a nonpartisan position held by Sherry Hall since 2003, is responsible for conducting elections and keeping public records. State records show that Hall has not updated her campaign financing since running for reelection in 2018.

McMullen say she's ideally suited to take over as Clackamas County clerk, with her 15 years of public service experience. She currently works as an elections administrator and program specialist for Multnomah County.

"One of the most important things is that people can have a voice and a say in public decision making," McMullen said. "As a Clackamas County resident, I see pockets where people don't have as much of a voice and aren't as involved."

Through her work, she said, her main goals are increasing voter registration capacity, understanding of how local elections work and opportunities for public participation, such as volunteering and serving on public boards.

McMullen started Multnomah County's Voter Education and Outreach (VEO) program in 2015, which remains the only local government program of its kind in the state of Oregon. VEO and McMullen's new voter engagement effort, Clackamas Voice, share a common goal of eliminating barriers to voter access, particularly for underrepresented communities and areas.

One barrier McMullen identifies: Although Oregon's "vote-at-home" system is intended to make voting more convenient for residents, it ignores the large population of state residents experiencing economic inequality, housing instability and homelessness.

"If you do not have a stable home address and have to pick up and move more often, you are dramatically less likely to receive a ballot, and then subsequently vote in each election," McMullen wrote in a recent op-ed.

McMullen would like the state to address these obstacles through automatic voter registration outside of the DMV, such as through hunting licences, social services, community college admissions and a program that encourages property managers to include a voter-registration opportunity as part of the lease-signing process.

McMullen would like the state to support social and nonprofit organizations that "provide direct services to families in poverty and people experiencing homelessness in voter registration and ballot access" and "culturally responsive organizations that can connect communities to voter registration and participation in immediately tangible ways."

More information about McMullen is available on her website.

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