Around the County: Candidates — Devlin Out, Collette Out, Johnson Out; Who’s In?

By Peter Toll

With about one year until the next general election and just seven months to the primary, candidates are facing new challenges as at least three incumbents in Clackamas County have announced their pending resignations from office.

Topping the list is State Senator Richard Devlin, co-chair of the Legislature’s powerful Joint Ways & Means Committee. The Democrat from Tualatin serving Lake Oswego and West Linn is being appointed to the Northwest Power Planning and Conservation Council by Gov. Kate Brown. His letter of resignation will follow Senate confirmation Nov. 15.

That means an appointment looms — the date the clock starts running for the 30-day process with Devlin’s resignation date. The appointee will finish Devlin’s term, which expires at the end of 2018.

Among those considering the seat are former State Rep. Greg MacPherson, school board member Rob Wagner, and city councilor Joe Buck, all of Lake Oswego. Newly appointed State Rep. Andrea Salinas (D – HD 38) said she is not seeking the appointment. West Linn may toss in a viable candidate or two. By law, the appointee must be a Democrat.

State Rep. Julie Parrish (R – HD 37) must wait until March’s filing deadline to declare her intentions — run for re-election or face the Senate appointee. Voter registration in the Senate district gives Democrats a strong 17 percent edge. Parrish already has at least one challenger, Democrat Rachel Prusak. Too, Parrish is busy trying to overturn the legislature’s action protecting 350,000 Oregonians from losing their health insurance.

Meanwhile, out northeast way, State Rep. Mark Johnson says he is resigning his House District 52 seat soon. Republican Johnson, of Hood River, has a new job. He is now head of the state’s largest business-industrial lobbying firm. Johnson’s successor must be a Republican. There are two GOP contenders so far: Sandy Mayor Bill King, who recently changed his registration from nonaffiliated to Republican, and Stan Pulliam, of Sandy. The latter’s Facebook page says he is a “commercial insurance executive” at USI Insurance Services in Portland. At least two Democrats (who have asked not to be revealed yet) are considering running against the appointee next year.

Moving to the nonpartisan campaigns, Metro councilor Carlotta Collette says she will resign her position of 10 years as she and her husband are moving to Corvallis in coming months. A Democrat on the nonpartisan council, Collette, of Milwaukie, has done an admirable job. Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba is being encouraged to run for that seat.

Gamba is also looking at Clackamas County Commissioner Paul Savas’s chair. Savas is up, and so is appointee Sonya Fischer, of Lake Oswego. Fischer recently had a grand campaign opening with some 160 fans and followers in Milwaukie. Former Clackamas County Commissioner Lynn Peterson, of Lake Oswego, is running hard to replace outgoing Metro chair Tom Hughes, of Hillsboro.

Nonpartisan races can be won outright in the May primary with a 50 percent-plus one vote majority. In that case, candidates would avoid a November runoff.

Clackamas County Clerk candidate Pamela White, of Oregon City, has her own kickoff this weekend to replace long-time incumbent Sherry Hall, of Gladstone. Another likely candidate may be Sherry Healy, of Clackamas, chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon’s Election Integrity Caucus.

Political turmoil seems to be prevailing across the state this year. At least one Republican state senator is accused by another of “inappropriate touching” (and has been openly reprimanded by the Senate president). At least three other incumbent Republican House members and one Republican state senator have said they’re not seeking re-election.

While personalities tend to dominate the public eye, it is their policies that help Oregonians or hurt them. Building the Democratic majority certainly can make things better, and that’s what it’s all about.

Peter Toll is a Clackamas County Democratic activist who lives in Lake Oswego.