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Former First District U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Furse has filed to run for the District 4 seat on the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

On Thursday, Jan. 9, Furse formally announced she is launching a bid for the office.

Furse, a Helvetia resident, said she is running because she believes the county needs a change.

“When I was in Congress, I fought to build a strong Washington County that was an economic engine done the right way — light rail, strong communities and preservation of our farms and open spaces,” Furse said. “Over the last 15 years, I’ve watched progress erode as tax giveaways are handed to land developers, backroom deals are made and traffic-clogging roads stem from unplanned communities.

“I believe I can bring a much-needed change to county leadership and prioritize what matters: police and fire, education and preservation of Washington County’s farm and forest economy in a manner that complements our industrial economy.”

District 4, which includes Hillsboro, North Plains, Gaston, Banks, Forest Grove and Cornelius, is currently represented by Commissioner Bob Terry, who began serving in the position in January 2011.

Terry is nearing the end of his first term in office. He announced last October that he will seek re-election to a new four-year term as county commissioner.

As a member of Congress from 1993 to 1999, Furse, a Democrat, led the effort to bring light rail to Hillsboro. After retiring from Congress, Furse founded the Institute for Tribal Government at Portland State University, and taught a variety of courses at the Hatfield School of Government. She currently sits on the boards of various organizations, including Save Helvetia and Water Watch Oregon.

Furse said if she is elected, she plans to focus on several key issues.

“In order to strive as a community, county government needs to serve the public interest, not any one interest, and have an agenda focusing on what Washington County citizens need before paying for extravagant projects and irresponsible giveaways,” she said. “We need growth, but it must be smart and sustainable, and aware of the added benefits a balanced land-use system has on our local economy.

“It’s about time we earn back the trust of residents who have felt discouraged and shut out from their government.”

The primary election will be held May 20. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers will go to a runoff in November.

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