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School board member says she'll likely challenge three-term incumbent Commissioner Paul Savas

Libra FordeNorth Clackamas School Board Chair Libra Forde on Monday declared her intent to seek election to the Clackamas County Commission Position 2.

Voters can expect to see Forde on the ballot during the May 17 primary election.

Elected to the school board in 2019, Forde, also a nonprofit executive, program founder and community advocate, said she now plans to bring her versatile skill set and perspective to the countywide position. She has been a speaker at recent Black Lives Matter and rallies against racism in Milwaukie and Estacada.

"We are at a critical crossroads for the future of Clackamas County, and we need a county commission that is up to the challenge," Forde said. "We must aim higher and be bolder if we are to meet the moment. I will bring to the job an effective management style, a needed perspective, and a commitment to deliver real results for our communities."

A graduate of Brandeis University with a master's degree in business administration and a doctorate degree in management from the University of Phoenix, as well as a public leadership credential from Harvard University's Kennedy School, Forde began her venture into public service working with special needs youth following an early career playing professional basketball in Italy.

Forde later founded Utopian Academics for Military Children, a program to support children of military families which operated from 2007-11. Her extensive background in education and volunteering includes filling a variety of roles during an eight-year stint with national education company K12, as well as board positions at Insight School of Oregon, Piedmont Rose and Clackamas Women's Services.

She currently serves as chief operating officer of Self-Enhancement Inc., a community nonprofit in Portland that offers a comprehensive resource center for youth and families, primarily Black community members and those living in poverty.

Forde said a key priority of hers is advocating for future generations, which she pledged to continue if elected to Clackamas County's commission.

"Clackamas families are raising the future of our community and the county must do our part," Forde said. "Every child, regardless of their background or where they live, deserves good housing, quality health care and a great education. And just as importantly, we as leaders must empower and listen to the voices of these young people as they challenge us to do better."

Forde said she will likely vie for the position against three-term incumbent Commissioner Paul Savas, who before Monday's announcement was the lone candidate in the race.

Several leaders from across the county have endorsed Forde for the position, including Oregon Rep. Andrea Salinas, former North Clackamas School District Superintendent Matt Utterback and Clackamas Women's Services Executive Director Melissa Erlbaum.

"Libra Forde's vision and values are exactly what Clackamas County needs now," Salinas said. "I am excited for what her leadership will do for our community and will be an enthusiastic supporter of this campaign."

"Libra is a leader who makes everyone around her better. Her thoughtfulness, willingness to listen and determination inspires others to elevate their approach and achieve real results," Utterback said. "Clackamas voters would be smart to empower her to bring that approach to the work of the County."

"I can't wait for Clackamas County to be as excited about Libra as I am," Erlbaum said. "She sees people's potential and creates connections to make their lives better. With her experience and abilities, I know Libra will help local governments and the community take care of our vulnerable and build a better future."

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