AROUND THE COUNTY: Special District Elections Prompt Short Campaign Season

Peter Toll

By Peter Toll

Seventy-seven special districts in Clackamas County have elections in May for a wealth of seats on smaller boards and commissions — from the biggest school district in the county to a water district in the county’s westernmost reaches that may soon disappear; (the water district that is, not the reaches.)

Just 15 of those districts will receive special attention as they are the only ones with contested races. In some cases, smaller boards have no candidates whatsoever.

North Clackamas School District has more than 17,000 students in an area stretching from Milwaukie east to Happy Valley. Four of the school board’s seats are on the May 21 election calendar, but just one, held by Orlando Perez, is being contested.

Meanwhile, just west of Lake Oswego, between the current city limits and I-5, the Southwood Park Water District has one seat being fought over. The winner may not serve very long. The district and the city have agreed Lake Oswego should annex the district. A hearing will occur June 4 in Lake Oswego city chambers to set an election date.

Clackamas Community College and two other high achieving school districts will be in the news a lot in coming weeks.

Incumbent CCC board member Chris Groener has attracted two challengers for his Zone 4 slot, whereas newcomer Betty Reynolds in Zone 5 has no challengers.

Mt. Hood Community College, whose boundaries extend east into northwestern Clackamas County, has two seats being contested.

Two of the most successful school districts in the state, West Linn-Wilsonville and Lake Oswego, have some disgruntled citizens who want to oust sitting directors in each district. Incumbent WL-WV Zone 2 board member Chelsea Martin is being challenged by Gail Greenman and David Swartwood. Two people are vying for an open slot on the board, including Jordan Ferris, a nurse.

Lake Oswego has two seats up but only one will see a battle. Incumbent Position 1 member John Wallin will face Kelly Calabria. The other seat is vacant but has only one contender; she is Kirsten Aird, long-time LO school parent and activist.

Four slots are up on the Oregon City School Board, and a familiar name is going for one of them. Pamela White, recent candidate for County Clerk, wants to serve on the school board, along with Anna Farmer and Steven Soll.

Clackamas River Water District, not too long ago a source of squabbles, lawsuits and near-violence among board members, has settled down pretty much with one exception. One incumbent board member has filed against another. Naomi Angier, a citizen a few years ago who helped with the board’s major reform and was then elected to the board, is being challenged by David McNeel, another board member. One other seat is also up for grabs. CRWD has 80,000 customers between Milwaukie and Oregon City.

Other races across the county include Canby, Gladstone, Molalla River School Districts, Oregon Trail and three fire districts.

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

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