Four candidates vie to become Clackamas County sheriff
Have you read the Voters' Pamphlet and are still not sure who gets your vote to lead the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office? Here's our last-minute guide to help you decide how to mark your ballot. This guide is intended to be an unbiased summary of the four candidates for Clackamas County sheriff listed in alphabetical order by last name.
Angela Brandenburg says she has a passion for law enforcement that is rooted in her commitment to building relationships with her community.
"Building relationships is my strength, and that's what I'm going to be able to bring to Clackamas County," she said.
Brandenburg is running for sheriff because she believes the sheriff's office is well-respected in the community, but it's poised to develop an even deeper connection with the residents, businesses and other organizations that call Clackamas County home.
She points to her time service CCSO as public information officer as one of the most rewarding experiences due to her ability to show the humanity of the office's employees.
"We're just like everybody else. We need to make sure there aren't barriers between law enforcement and our community," she said. "That's how we're going to solve our issues. Not only criminal issues, but social issues as well."
Brandenburg points to the success of the Clackamas County Family Justice Center, the first of its kind in Oregon and now being replicated in neighboring counties, as a sign of her leadership capabilities.
"There we're working with partners who may not have been very trustful of law enforcement in the beginning," she said. "Victim services and law enforcement don't always see eye to eye in going about accomplishing the same goals, so it really is about developing trust."
As a lieutenant since 2012 and an undersheriff since 2019, Brandenburg has executive-level experience in CCSO, being the current number two in charge of an office with more 500 employees and an operating budget of nearly $100 million. She also has the endorsement of current CCSO Sheriff Craig Roberts.
"I know he's polarizing to people, but his endorsement means that he has faith in me that I can do this job. He's done this job for a long time and done a great job leading us through a lot of change. I'm thankful that he places that level of trust in me," Brandenburg said. "I have the heart, and I think Clackamas County deserves a sheriff who is willing to come into the community to be accessible, to listen, prioritize and be able to develop a plan of action and put it into action."
As the only candidate who has never worked for CCSO, Roger Edwards is the proverbial outsider in this race for Clackamas County sheriff, but he believes his experience and passion for community policing set him side-by-side with his fellow candidates.
Edwards points to his outside perspective as one of the key tenets of his platform in that he can come with a fresh take on problems both new and old and offer solutions that stem from his long career in law enforcement.
Edwards has worked as an Oregon State Police officer posted in Government Camp in not only the major crimes arson unit, but also in the anti-gambling division, and in the fish and wildlife divisions. Before that, he spent time as a military policeman for the U.S. Army and Oregon National Guard, as well as an employee of the U.S. Department of Justice's bureau of prisons. He currently serves as the president of the Oregon State Fraternal Order of Police.
But with all that experience, Edwards isn't looking for a new career. Rather he wants to serve four years as your sheriff and then pass the torch to the next person looking to serve the people of Clackamas County and bring progress to the office.
Despite only wanting to serve four years, he's committed to making decisions that are good for the county in the long term, not just today.
"I have a vested interest in this community and to be looking down the road, five to ten years into the future," he said. "If you're not willing to do that, if you're short-sighted, you're going to miss a lot of opportunities in the long run that are good for you."
Edwards wants to foster a culture where sheriff's deputies can take a five- to 10-minute break, grab a cup of coffee and sit down to interact with members of the communities they police. He also wants to foster a culture where sheriff's office employees feel comfortable reaching out for help when dealing with traumatic events. He wants to prevent deputies and other field employees from going out into the community when they're not 100% ready to deal with the stresses of the job.
"We need to create an environment that if an officer needs help they know it's there," Edwards said. "I want to change the environment to where we have people checking on each other to make sure they're OK and that they're OK to return to work and operate safely and appropriately following a traumatic incident."
For the last 26 years, Brian Jensen has served as a law enforcement agent in a number of roles, and for the past 21 of those, he's served them within the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.
According to Jensen, he's been mulling a run for sheriff for five years and feels that now is his time.
"I've seen that change is coming, and I knew Craig was getting ready to retire," he said. "I feel like I've got the experience, the right drive and the heart and creativity to make sure the direction we're going is the best fit for the citizens of our county and employees of the sheriff's office."
Jensen believes he has the know-how to get this job done efficiently and to connect with the community in a meaningful way. He points to his time as public information officer as a part of his experience that led to his passion for connecting with the citizens of Clackamas County.
"Being PIO is like being a fly on the wall for a lot of high-level, executive discussions. I didn't have much input but learned a lot," Jensen said. "I tried to make sure that we were giving the information to our citizens that was the right information, and correct. I also really enjoyed being PIO to connect with the community. On a selfish level, I really enjoyed that and saw what good can come from it."
Internally, Jensen wants to focus on giving autonomy to the office's deputies and leaders. He believes that independence will give way to a heightened sense of professionalism from top to bottom.
He also is excited to roll up his sleeves and tackle a daunting budget to work with the community and bolster the services they most want to see in their neighborhoods.
"Another priority for me as sheriff is to get out into the community. I haven't seen a lot of that. I really want to focus on Clackamas County and bring the focus back to our people here," he said. "I like talking with people, I like solving problems. I've got a ton of experience working in different divisions in our office in different roles. All that experience gives me a unique set of skills that are needed to run this department."
Lynn Schoenfeld brings 28 years of law enforcement experience to his candidacy for Clackamas County sheriff. Prior to that he was an electrical engineer, and he believes those two aspects of his background make a good fit for the position with a knack for viewing things analytically.
He said he decided to run for the job after several sheriff's deputies, local city officials and members of other local law enforcement agencies urged him to run.
According to Schoenfeld, his priorities stem from conversations he's had with citizens throughout the county. They include putting more deputies on the streets and investigators following up on crimes, as well as developing a work group of some sort to brainstorm solutions to the homelessness and livability issues seen countywide.
"We need to get the right people together to collaborate and come up with good solutions that are good for businesses, good for citizens and address these social needs because we're not going to arrest our way out of this problem," he said.
Schoenfeld also wants to take a hard look at the budget and ensure that the citizens of Clackamas County can trust their sheriff to make the right decisions with their tax dollars.
"People just have a distrust of government and fiscal responsibility. Having some business savvy, I believe I can help get us back to being responsible," he said. "Fiscal responsibility is also about finding savings, and I think there are inefficiencies with this office's footprint."
Schoenfeld was recently brought further into the spotlight when The Oregonian surfaced allegations of improper behavior while on duty. The first was an incident in 2008 where Schoenfeld used a PIT maneuver to take down a motorcyclist attempting to evade police in the parking lot of the Clackamas Town Center.
"I had to make a decision. It was a life or death situation to preserve the peace, safety and human life," Schoenfeld said. "Now, in the aftermath, I'd do it again."
The second allegation centers around a ride-along with Kelli Zook, project coordinator of the county's community corrections program.
According to Zook, Schoenfeld is alleged to have made comments unbecoming of a law enforcement agent while dealing with a man apparently in the midst of a mental health crisis, flipping him off and making other racially charged comments.
These allegations first came to light in an article in The Oregonian/OregonLive.com chronicling the events and confirmed by the release of Schoenfeld's personnel file.
Schoenfeld adminantly denies the allegation he said what Zook is saying he said.
"I keep things very professional," he said. "I have never flipped someone off while on duty in a uniform, I would never do that. My comments were taken out of context and this is an embellished set of facts. This ride along occured back in 2018. My question is why this person didn't report this back then? This situation having racial connotations, there would be a mandatory follow up, which never happened."
According to Zook — who supports Brandenburg as a candidate — she has nothing to gain by fabricating these allegations, and simply came forward to ensure voters had the full picture of someone she believes exhibited inappropriate behavior.
"I would have spoken up regardless of who I support as sheriff," Zook told Pamplin Media Group. "I would have spoken up regardless of who was running against him. I can speak confidently and say that this is not fabricated, and I'm not saying this to smear him."
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