by: GEOFF PURSINGER - State Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) and chief of staff Nathan Howard claimed first place in this year's Mayor's Challenge and Legislative Paddle Race. The race pits local elected officials against one another in a race down the Tualatin River to bring awareness to the work of Tualatin Riverkeepers and Clean Water Services.If you recognized the dozen men and women spraying each other with squirt guns at Cook Park, Wednesday evening, it’s because you’ve seen them before.

As part of the sixth annual Mayors Kayak Race at Cook Park, the dozen racers were elected officials from across Washington County, who put their pride to the test in a race down the Tualatin River.

With serious bragging rights on the line, this year’s Mayor’s Challenge and Legislative Paddle Race was hosted by the Tualatin Riverkeepers — a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the river and promoting recreational activities.

In years past, the event has promoted the Riverkeepers’ trail expansion plans, which aims to extend public access along nearly 40 miles of the river.

The group has said that poor access in large parts of the rivers has kept it from becoming a destination for experienced kayakers and canoers.

This year, however, was all about fun.

Armed with squirt guns, the racers — which included Tigard Mayor John L. Cook, Beaverton State Senator Mark Hass and Sherwood City Councilor Krisanna Clark — spent the evening on the river to show their support for the organization.

“I’m very much a fan of the Riverkeepers and Clean Water Services (which maintains it),” said Hass. “We moved out here when I was a kid and we literally grew up on the Tualatin. It is much cleaner today than it was when I was younger.”

Hass, who raced tandem with his chief of staff Nathan Howard, easily claimed first place in the race, followed by Hillsboro-area state Rep. Joe Gallegos.

“There is something about being on the river,” Hass said. “You always feel better once you get out there. The problems you had before just don’t seem quite as bad as before you went out there.”

This is the sixth mayor’s race by the Riverkeepers, but the tradition has existed for years.

In 1980, then-Tualatin mayor Roy Rogers raced then-Tigard mayor Alan Michelson down the river.

Rogers — who now serves as a Washington County Commissioner — had hoped to finally win the race this year. He came in third.

To learn more about Tualatin Riverkeepers and the Water Trail, visit

Here are race results, from Tualatin Riverkeepers:

First Place: Sen. Mark Hass, Chief of Staff Nathan Howard

Second Place: Rep. Joe Gallegos, Intern Brenda Tevis and Joe's dog Maya.

Third Place: Washington County Commissioners Dick Schouten and Roy Rogers

Fourth Place: West Linn City Councilor Jenni Tan

Fifth Place: West Linn City Councilor Thomas Frank

Sixth Place: Metro Councilor Kathryn Harrington & Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Board Member Randy Lauer

Seventh Place: Tigard Mayor John Cook and Utilities Division Manager John Goodrich

Eighth Place: Sherwood City Councilor Krisanna Clark

Ninth Place: TVF&R Fire Chief Mike Duyck and wife Anne

Editor's note: This story originally misspelled Sen. Mark Hass' name.

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