Doug Neeley: Supposedly 'nonpartisan' Clackamas County clerk puts her name on all election materials, poses for Republican petition.

There have been many letters regarding Sherry Hall's performance as Clackamas County clerk.Doug Neeley

But my biggest concern is one that I have not yet seen addressed. It involves a petition taken out by Dan Holladay (previous Oregon City commissioner and later mayor) to recall the then-County Board Chair Jim Bernard. Dan Holladay had his picture taken by The Oregonian, and Sherry Hall was smiling in the picture.

There is no reason that the county clerk should be present when someone takes out a petition, let alone having her picture taken by the news media. Such a picture could lead voters to believe she supported the petition, which is particularly concerning since the position of county clerk is nonpartisan. This disturbed me greatly since I happened to know that Sherry Hall and the petitioner were both registered Republicans and that Jim Bernard was a registered Democrat. Having her picture taken was poor judgement on her part.

One other issue worth noting: Until this year Sherry Hall would have her name on all Clackamas County election materials as Clackamas County clerk. In those elections in which the Clackamas County clerk's position was on the ballot, this gave her additional exposure above the other candidates running for that position. Thanks to Senate Bill 670, it is no longer legal to have clerks' names on the election materials during elections when they appear as candidates on the ballot. This law went into effect in January 2020, and the 2022 election cycle is the first election for Clackamas County clerk with the law in effect.

Catherine McMullen, a candidate for Clackamas County clerk, noted that the legislation went into effect directly in response to Sherry Hall's behavior during the 2018 election cycle when Hall included her name in large bold print in multiple places on the voters pamphlet, ballot insert and ballot-return envelope that was mailed to every household and registered voter in the county.

"This was essentially a taxpayer-funded campaign boost allowing an incumbent an unfair advantage over a challenger," McMullen wrote.

This year, county-clerk candidates, including the incumbent, will still be able to submit voters-pamphlet statements and a current headshot to go with it.

Doug Neeley is an Oregon City resident and former mayor.

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