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Public Safety Advisory Committee members Elvis Clark, Rob Reynolds only separated by 2.6%

Milwaukie's Republican voters are now leaning toward choosing Rob Reynolds over Elvis Clark for the nomination to take on Mayor Mark Gamba as the Democratic state-rep candidate in November, but results of the May 17 primary election remain unknown due to Clackamas County's delay in counting ballots with defective barcodes.Rob Reynolds

With only 2.6% separating them, a total of about 45.9% are voting for Reynolds and 43.3% for Clark in early returns in both counties spanning the Oregon House district to represent Milwaukie, Oak Grove and Sellwood. However, Republicans in Multnomah County are leaning in the opposite direction to those in Clackamas County.

About 51% of early Republican voters in Multnomah County leaned to picking Clark, compared to 32% for Reynolds. In Clackamas County, where more than 50% of ballots remain uncounted (mostly Democratic voters), ballots are going about 51% for Reynolds and 41% for Clark.

Both Republican primary election candidates for Oregon House District 41 serve on the city of Milwaukie's Public Safety Advisory Committee and say more needs to be done in Salem to support police officers.

Milwaukie voters are familiar with Clark and Reynolds, having run unsuccessfully in previous elections, Clark as a city councilor and Reynolds as a Congressman. However, Republicans in the largely Blue state-rep district that includes Oak Grove see an opportunity with the resignation of Rep. Karin Power, creating the area's first open seat in six years.

Power won the seat in 2016 with more than 70% of the vote, and easily won reelection in the subsequent two contests. Whoever prevails in this year's Republican primary will likely continue to emphasize public safety in taking on Gamba, whose top priority is climate change.

"Everyone has a right to safety, which means not only dedicating resources to prevention, but holding criminals accountable for their actions," Reynolds wrote in his Voters' Pamphlet statement. "We need to strengthen laws that support our police, and follow-through with prosecution."

Clark, a retired economist for the Oregon Public Utilities Commission and the Bonneville Power Administration, said "just like the rest of us," police must obey the law and be held accountable when they don't.

"At the same time, police must be able to vigorously enforce the law, confident we have their backs," Clark wrote. "We need to adequately fund, train, and honor the vast majority of police who serve with honor and heroism. Enough of this crime wave — let's take our streets back."

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