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Two seats out of four commissioners are up for grabs in the Nov. 8 election this year in new format.

Oregon City voters appear to be largely supporting incumbent commissioners in the Nov. 8 election, with Rocky Smith and Adam Marl currently leading a pack of six commission candidates.

After predicting the more well-known Smith would get the most votes, Marl surprised even himself by getting 27.4% to Smith's 26.4% according to initial results, which are serving as a referendum on the city's future development, given Smith's skepticism about a potential urban-renewal project.PMG PHOTO: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Oregon City Commissioner Adam Marl, who seeks a full four-year term, is seen here talking with Lynn Anderson on Nov. 8.

Many votes were still being tabulated as of 11 p.m. on election night, and many more ballots will be arriving at the Clackamas County Elections Office later this week with postmarks showing they were cast by election day. Smith and Marl's comfortable lead against other candidates appears to be holding as additional ballots were tabulated on election night.

Smith is among two incumbent commission members seeking to hold a seat and is the only candidate seeking reelection, since Marl was appointed in 2021 and sought to be elected by voters for the first time this year. Initial results on election night showed Sandra Dee Toews with 8%, Tom Geil with a 12%, Den Scrutton with 13% and Karla Laws with 14% with many ballots still being counted.

In 2018, Smith's opponent saw a need for providing more local homebuilding lands in a controlled manner, but Smith won the election by saying that more attention should be paid to the livability of current residents.PMG PHOTO: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Oregon City Commissioner Rocky Smith celebrated with supporters of his reelection campaign on Nov. 8.

This year, Smith is again raising the issue of livability for current citizens as part of his reelection campaign, making it clear that he is not sold on the concept of providing urban-renewal funds to developers.

"Commissioners need to listen to the citizens in regards to future development, especially if urban-renewal funds are used," Smith wrote in the pamphlet. "Infill development projects should be consistent with their surroundings rather than overshadow them. Any development at the landfill site needs to be thoughtfully integrated and should include the crucial infrastructure needed to support tourism."

Also a downtown business owner and art teacher at Oregon City High School, Smith has repeatedly expressed concerns about the North End project and abstained from a vote in May to allow city-staff help for the developers in pursuing grant funding. He remains concerned about how the project, if it moves forward, would fit in with urban-renewal plans that remain in flux.

If the North End project is built, Smith said that shuttles should connect visitors around the city, keeping tourism traffic out of neighborhoods. In a public conversation between the developers and the urban-renewal commission on Sept. 7, Smith said that he would like to see the shuttles run between the North End landfill site and the other major development planned on the south side of town by the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde at the former Blue Heron Paper Co. mill.

Smith is among six candidates all vying for two spots on the city commission in a "top two" election format that's returning to Oregon City ballots in November for the first time since the 1970s. In May, voters approved a ballot measure to replace the election format used in elections from 1980-2020, when candidates would run for seats numbered one through four on the commission.

Now Oregon City voters will be voting for up to two out of the six commission candidates, and the two candidates who get the most votes will be seated for four-year terms. Every two years, Oregon City citizens will be electing two of the four commission members in this manner.

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