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Sunday, August 2, 2020

Vial Misses Mark, Rebound is Over



Richard Vial’s political career is over, at least for the time being. His attempt at mustering 1,000 registered voters in a Scholls farmer’s field for a nominating convention to put him on the ballot for Secretary of State failed. He needed 1,000 signatures and got closer to 500.

Elected to the Oregon House as a Republican in 2014, he was ousted by Democrat Courtney Neron in 2018. He then landed a job in 2019 as Deputy Secretary of State for fill-in Secretary of State Bev Clarno; she is not running in November.

Vial was exposed as a heavy moonlighter while supposedly putting in 40 hours a week as a state employee. A land use/landlord attorney, he was spending lots of weekdays in court with his private practice. By early spring of 2020 he was gone. His replacement was Cameron Smith.

Smith was going for the Secretary of State’s nomination in the 2020 primary when he left that race to become Clarno’s deputy, replacing Vial. The primary saw State Senator Shemia Fagan (D-Happy Valley) win a close race with State Senator Mark Haas (D-Beaverton) for the opportunity to face Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) in November.

Adding to the Clackamas connection is that Vial represented Wilsonville in House District 26, which stretches out west to Scholls. Thatcher also represents it, as her State Senate district contains two house districts, and one of them is HD26.

Wilsonville was the site of a recent controversy leading to the ejection of outspoken Republican Doris Wehler from the West Linn-Wilsonville School District long-range planning committee. Wehler’s racist and bigoted comments went public and the school board decided to say, thank you for your service, but your kind of talk doesn’t reflect our values. A raging Trumper, Wehler has been active in Wilsonville politics a long time. She is a heavy-hitter in the big-time, GOP-studded Wilsonville chamber and pulls a lot of strings behind the scenes.

She was a key player in the recent Wilsonville ballot measure that successfully sought to purge one of Wehler’s chief foes, long-time Democratic leader Charlotte Lehan, off the council there. Silently aimed at Lehan, the measure’s passage created term limits for city councilors.

One of Wehler’s pals is former Wilsonville mayor and former county chair John Ludlow. He and Lehan have been going at it for years. Fair to say that bidding adieu to Wehler, as she happily bids adieu to Lehan is bittersweet. Charlotte deserved a much better fate for her years of outstanding public service in Wilsonville and Clackamas County.