Readers weigh in on the upcoming local elections, the first presidential debate and more.

Former employee questions Garrett's leadership

I recently resigned as a maintenance worker with the Columbia County Parks Department.

For the majority of my 15-plus years, I have enjoyed this position, as it has been meaningful work and allowed me to grow professionally, contribute to my community and provide for myself.

Unfortunately, the opportunity for learning and contribution came to an end under the direction of Casey Garrett, the parks department's supervisor who is also running for election to the Columbia County Board of Commissioners. It is my experience that his leadership style discourages teamwork. He is not open to dialogue. Communication, in general, is not a priority, and questions about or any disagreement with his approach is not tolerated.

Casey insulates himself from voices he doesn't wish to entertain by removing those voices from any opportunity to contribute to the conversation. In my case, he relegated me to janitorial duties and cut me off from previous responsibilities and inclusion. It is a tactic of oppression through assignment, and it is a means of punishing perceived dissent.

Under Casey's management, when I expressed interest in any particular park, I was removed from that park. To cite one example: During the onset of COVID-19 and while Casey was on leave to campaign for the May primary election, I became interested/concerned with the issue of housing insecurity in Columbia County and how it interfaces with the parks system. I got to know folks who were staying in the parks as I performed my duties.

A houseless young man staying at one of the parks volunteered to help me paint a bathroom in exchange for staying there in his tent. This project was in process when Casey returned after the election. I called into the County Commissioners meeting and expressed my concerns regarding this issue of housing insecurity. Two days later, Casey changed my janitorial routine to remove me from the park where I had this connection. This is his prerogative, but why deny someone's interest and passion when it can be useful?

Casey does value efficiency. However, Casey doesn't value people beyond what he can get out of them. If he doesn't want someone on his crew, he pushes that person out and replaces them with one of his friends. His management model isn't actually efficient. It doesn't promote growth, inovationation, learning, collaboration or productivity. If voted into office this November, I anticipate he will impose the same model as a member of the Columbia County Board of Commissioners.

It was painful working under Casey Garrett. It's demoralizing to be demoted in assignment without cause, explanation or acknowledgment.

I am not attempting to convince anyone. This is my experience. I believe those close to the situation, including the County Board of Commissioners, can't deny this has been my experience.

Lori Baker, St. Helens

Vote for Jenefer Grant for judge

Jenefer Grant is running against Michael Clarke for 19th Circuit Court Judge, Position 3. Jenefer Grant is the incumbent.

First, I would like to tell you why you should not vote for Michael Clarke and secondly, I want to tell you why you should vote for Jenefer Grant.

I am the chair of the Columbia County Democratic Central Committee (CCDCC). In early March, Michael Clarke, who is a registered Democrat, contacted me requesting access to the Oregon Democrats Voter Activation Network (VAN) database. This database is a powerful tool that candidates can use to target voter turnout activities. It is the practice of the CCDCC to make this data base available to Democratic candidates in Columbia County. Access to the database is valued at $500. For our Democratic candidates, we charge a token $25 and provide an in-kind donation of $475.

Prior to the May primary, CCDCC invited both Grant and Clarke to a candidate forum. Following is the answer I received from Clarke: "I've spoken to my campaign advisors about this opportunity and they advise that I not participate. I have issues with participating in an event where the incumbent will be involved and will continue being disingenuous. My position is clear and given the primary vote numbers, the voters agree with my position. Therefore, at this point, I am going to decline the invitation."

Clarke is a candidate who accepted a $475 in-kind contribution, and then refused to talk to the party that gave it to him. Furthermore, I could not find our in-kind contribution listed on ORESTAR, the secretary of state's database where candidates are required to report both cash and in-kind contributions.

Clarke's motto is "Justice with Integrity." Hardly. The arrogance and pettiness of his response, after asking for and receiving our help reveals a man who is utterly unfit to be a judge. There is nothing in his resume that indicates he has either the experience or the temperament the position he seeks requires and demands.

Following these incidents, I sought out all the information I could find on both candidates. Everything I learned about Judge Grant has led me to the conclusion she is an extremely well-qualified candidate and deserves to be retained. She has the experience, the knowledge and most importantly the empathy and compassion for those who would come before her. She has proven this in her years of experience as a Circuit Court judge and earned the respect of her colleagues, plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses and jurors. Those who work with the court system frequently, and know her and her opponent best, overwhelmingly endorse Judge Grant. It is a long list of respected and knowledgeable endorsers, including our excellent district attorney, Jeff Auxier and the mayors of St. Helens, Vernonia and Clatskanie.

I urge you to check out her website:

Please join me in voting for Judge Grant.

Greg Pettit

Chair, Columbia County Democrats

Scappoose city councilor supports Grant, Tardif, Witt

A few years back, I was in need of knee replacements and went through a thorough process of getting the best odds for a good result. I found there exist considerable differences among surgeons and hospitals for infection rates and surgical outcomes that essentially come down to five factors: team skills, dedication to the job, the level of practice, egos of practitioners and track record.

It seems to me these same factors apply to selecting our elected leaders, if we desire the best outcomes. I know and can attest that Columbia County Circuit Judge Jenefer Grant, County Commissioner Alex Tardif and state Rep. Brad Witt all embody these five factors and characteristics; hence, they have earned my confidence and my vote.

Joel Haugen

City Councilor, Scappoose

Umatilla County commissioner endorses incumbents

Although there are dozens of county commissioner elections this year, I intend to write only two letters of support. Ironically, both of those commissioners serve in Columbia County.

The first is Margaret Magruder, whom I have known since before she was a teenager. I am writing to encourage the citizens of Columbia County to retain Margaret Magruder as one of your commissioners.

It has been my pleasure to know the Magruder family for well over fifty years dating back to my friendship with Margaret's brother, Dick, as well as her parents. For several years, I had the privilege of showing their sheep.

The Magruder family has a long and distinguished record of public service.

I have remained friends with Margaret ever since we first met, and I have marveled at her extensive contributions to her community, her county, and the state of Oregon.

She is astute, articulate, intelligent and keenly aware of the needs of her constituents. She is also a tireless worker who makes a profound difference wherever she directs her attention.

We now have the opportunity to work together through the Association of Oregon Counties, where she is well-respected and a strong advocate for her county.

I am hopeful she will be able to continue her exceptional work as a county commissioner, but that is up to the voters of Columbia County.

The second is on behalf of Alex Tardif, whom I met when he first was elected to office.

Because of his background, Alex was immediately identified as a valuable resource with respect to financial management — a critical talent at both the local and state level.

Shortly after his election, Alex was elected treasurer of the Association of Oregon Counties at a time when our finances were in a shambles. Under his expert and courageous leadership, that ship has been righted. I say courageous because fixing a financial mess requires hard decisions and sometimes hard feelings. Alex handled both by being respected, knowledgeable, and unwavering.

His future potential contributions to both Columbia County and the state of Oregon are hopefully far from over.

At a time when voters are concerned about trying to find elected officials they can trust, Alex steps out from the crowd because of his commitment to sound fiscal management and his willingness to make fair and consistent decisions, but hard decisions as well.

In Alex Tardif, Columbia County has an outstanding asset.

George Murdock

Commissioner, Umatilla County

Clarke will bring a needed change to the bench

Why I believe Michael T. Clarke for Circuit Court Judge, District 19, Position 3, is the best candidate for the job:

After having interactions with him and seeing his legal capabilities, I can't help but feel he is just the change that Columbia County truly needs. When you go into Clarke's law firm and have interactions with him, you don't only get someone who is knowledgeable when it comes to the law, but you find someone who has a true passion for helping people understand it. That's not something that you see every day and it's refreshing.

I am proud to hang those Clarke for Judge signs in my yard and can't wait to see the good he will bring to Columbia County.

Chad Williams, Scappoose

Tardif is clear choice for county commissioner

What do you want in a Columbia County Commissioner? Heart? Brains? Experience? Alex Tardif has all three.

Heart: Devoted family man, farmer, and lifelong Columbia County resident. He well knows what's needed and is dedicated to serving his fellow residents. Example: His leadership during the epidemic and in trying to expand broadband to the hinterlands has been vital. He's proven himself by supporting Community Mental Health and the Vernonia Health Center.

Brains: Not an ideologue, he wants to expand economic opportunity for all walks of life and enhance livability for all our residents. Example: He saved money by crushing rock for roads from county quarry, developed a five-year plan to create priorities in road improvements, and actually and personally responds to residents who complain about road conditions. That's both oversight and action.

Experience: His accomplishments have been staggering, despite not being in the "old boys' network." Example: He led the charge to update the county's technological infrastructure into the 21st century to upgrade departmental interaction and better serve residents.

Future: He's proposed reducing commissioner's salaries so a professional administrator for the county can be hired — accountable to the public, instead of separate commissioners making decisions without pesky public meeting laws and official records.

According to his official county records, his opponent has been officially reprimanded for referring to colleagues insultingly — yet was promoted. This spring, he stated that he'd be no help bringing broadband out to the hinterlands for our children or businesses since we "chose to live there."

A clear choice. Re-elect Alex Tardif for the win.

Erika Paleck, Vernonia

Trump's tax returns just the latest evidence he isn't fit to lead

It is quite puzzling how any voters can continue to support President Donald Trump after the latest revelations about his taxes.

In the past 10 years, the vast majority of middle-class families paid more in federal taxes than he did. And none of us own fancy golf resorts or casinos.

But this should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to his antics. The man has no morals, no ethics and no empathy. This is not someone who should be in any kind of a leadership position.

David Pauli, Forest Grove

Support safer slaughter

The Safe Line Speeds During COVID-19 Act (S.4338 / H.R. 7521) will positively impact all aspects of high-speed slaughter systems. The bill aims to protect slaughterhouse employees, animals and consumers from the perils of higher-speed mechanized slaughter.

As recently illustrated, slaughterhouses have fallen victim to disproportionate COVID-19 infections and deaths amongst employees. By passing the Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act, we can prevent the propagation of dangerous, high-speed slaughter systems and ensure that no funds allocated to the USDA during the COVID-19 pandemic be used to support increased slaughter line speeds.

This act places an emphasis on human and animal protection instead of merely generating revenue for the massive, privatized slaughterhouse industry that benefits from high-speed slaughter.

Please join me in applauding Sen. Jeff Merkley, who has ardently cosponsored this bill in the Senate. Additionally, please join me in contacting Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici and urging them to also co-sponsor the Safe Line Speeds During COVID-19 Act.

Paige Lemhouse, Beaverton

Debate showcased both candidates' lack of fitness

I found the first presidential debate utterly disgusting.

President Donald Trump's combative and aggressive style was so bad I couldn't get my hearing aid feedback adjusted enough to hear what he was talking about.

As for Democratic nominee Joe Biden, when asked about his 110-page policy proposals, he refused to answer one question and bumbled three others. Like I have written before, Biden has no grasp on what his Democratic team has written or set as their platform.

I, having been a witness during a congressional budget investigation in 1979 under Sens. Warren Rudman and Phil Gramm (while Sen. Biden was still a new-guy), feel nominee Biden's inability to present his policy proposals is unacceptable after 47 years in political office.

One candidate appears to suffer from Stage 4 dark triad psychosis (narcissism/Machiavellianism/psychopathy) while the other suffers from Stage 2 dementia, yet these are the candidates chosen by America's two major political parties. [Ed.: Neither Trump nor Biden have been diagnosed with a psychological disorder or degenerative condition.] It was this that was on display around the world on Sept. 29, a superpower descending into a third-world country.

Joe Turner, Columbia City

Cut the mics of interrupting candidates

I wish that Chris Wallace could have finished outlining the rules of the first debate with the following hypothetical statement: "In a poll taken by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and FOX News, over 98% of respondents expressed a strong desire to hear, without interruption, the comments of each candidate called upon to speak. With that in mind, only the person to whom I direct a question will have his microphone activated. This will benefit the two of you and most important the American people. Thank you. Now the first question."

David A. Nardone, Hillsboro

Freedoms given up are freedoms lost forever

I would like to express my opinion and observation regarding current events.

I am referring to the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Our Constitution and Declaration of Independence were drafted by persons of great wisdom.

These documents lay out the framework of how our society works: Limited government and freedom for the individual.

This system worked well for over 200 years. Now the system is being corrupted.

The government is dictating how we live. One recent example is the current push to tax smoking and vaping. I am personally against both.

The proposal sounds good, and government asserts many benefits. However, it takes freedom away from the individual. The individual must take responsibility for his own actions.

I believe government should point out the hazards of this product, and the individual should make the decision whether to use the product.

Another example of government telling the individual how to live is fireworks for the Fourth of July.

I believe the use of fireworks should be an individual choice, and the individual is responsible for their use and any damage or injuries that result. I, at 80 years, and my children have all our fingers, due to good parent responsibility.

When we lose a certain freedom, it is extremely difficult to get it back. If the citizens keep voting for good-sounding stuff or so they get something at the expense of another group, the country will keep going downhill and will eventually become a full socialist system.

The individual has the responsibility to know what they are voting for, not just sounds good or gets them something.

If the people want to have a socialist government, they need to research and see where that form of government has worked as well as our system. People need to wake up, before our system of government is lost.

Bruce Anderson, Tigard

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