Tootie Smith challenges Jim Bernard for county commission seat
After losing her seat on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners to Ken Humberston in 2016, Tootie Smith is back and ready to go toe-to-toe to replace Chairman Jim Bernard.
Smith served on the commission for four years, from 2013-2017, and previously served two terms in the Oregon House from 2001-2005.
Smith announced her candidacy to a small crowd at Boring Station Trailhead Park in Boring on Aug. 1, citing several previous actions taken by the commission she disagrees with, and saying "Let's bring balance back into government and some good ol' common sense."
"Clackamas County is a bellwether county for Oregon," she noted. "So goes Clackamas County, so goes Oregon."
That said, she then equated the current county commission to the super majority in the Oregon Legislature, claiming the commissioners are "acting just like the Oregon Legislature and are intent on raising your taxes, can't balance their own budget, while housing costs, homelessness and crime rises."
Smith said she plans to run, and serve if elected, honoring the non-partisan quality of the position, "not catering to any party system or to any (special) interest."
Chairman Jim Bernard, who has served on the board for 11 years, has also declared his intention to run for re-election, and told The Post he is "looking forward to the campaign."
"We've got a lot of great things going on," he noted, citing upcoming opportunities in housing and from Metro activity.
Smith cited budget security as a top priority if she is elected, saying the commission "(failed) to balance its own budget … walking away with (an) $8 million deficit while enjoying record tax revenues of $1 billion."
"I was always told that was a violation of state budget law," she noted.
In response, Bernard told The Post a deficit isn't possible, and "We have to have a balanced budget."
"We have a challenging budget, but we're already working to make it work," Bernard said. "We're a AAA-rated county and we plan to maintain that rating."
Smith further disagrees with the commission's vote to enact a vehicle registration fee, which was approved in February and will cost $30 per year per vehicle. The funds garnered were earmarked for projects aimed at relieving congestion, maintaining local roads and implementing safety improvements.
"For 20 years we've been trying to figure out a way to maintain our roads," Bernard noted. "We need to maintain our biggest investment. It's reasonable. It's $30 per year, and we had cities' support. No one wants to pay higher taxes, but people also need safe, maintained roads."
This, according to Bernard, is just one of several projects he'd count as a success in his time on the commission.
"In the past two-and-a-half years, we've received multiple grants from Metro, money from the state and improved relationships with the cities under my leadership," he said.
As a long-time resident and farmer in Clackamas County, Smith sides with those citizens who "want independence from big city policies that bring crime, homeless and increased taxes to Oregon's third largest county," and opposes the commission's past and present support of Metro.
"Our residents want to continue to enjoy their peaceful, crime-free places to live, work and play," she said.
If elected, Smith's vision as Clackamas County Chairperson is to "restore balance to Oregon's political system by giving voters a voice that is not currently represented or heard."
"We must elect people (to the) Clackamas County Commission and take back three seats lost in the Legislature (with people) who value a disciplined fiscal policy, natural resources and strong pro-jobs economy," Smith noted. "Our campaign seeks to bring reason to politics and government institutions while listening to the electorate on large overreaching social and regulatory issues. Most voters trust that the everyday management of government systems should operate seamlessly, while providing for adequate services, safety and pothole-free roads. I promise your voices will be heard."
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