By Peter Toll
Despite our efforts to upset an applecart here and there in last week’s elections, Clackamas County will send five Democratic members to Oregon’s House of Representatives in January and five Republicans. We also have five Senators, of which three are Democrats and two are Republican. In other words, they tend to accurately represent the voter registration of 229,859 in the county, which is pretty even (R-D) with a 2,000 or so bump for the Democrats. No changes of power here.
We didn’t lose any of our incumbents. Representatives retained on the Democratic side are Ann Lininger, Lake Oswego; Brent Barton, Oregon City; Jeff Reardon, East Portland; Shemia Fagan, Happy Valley; and newcomer Kathleen Taylor, of southerly SE Portland, retained for Democrats the seat formerly held by Carolyn Tomei, Milwaukie. Barton and Fagan, as freshmen, faced the strongest challenges with Barton beating Steve Newgard again, 53.8 percent to 45.7 percent. Fagan beat Jodi Bailey, also of Happy Valley, 52.3 to 47.2 percent. (All discrepancies due to write-ins, lesser candidates.)
Republicans returning to the House include Vic Gilliam, of Silverton, who faced a stout but uphill challenge from Scott Mills, of Aurora. John Davis, of Wilsonville, who has but two precincts in Wilsonville, will also return. As will Julie Parrish, West Linn, who beat Gerritt Rosenthal for the district that swings from the Willamette River to Tualatin. Bill Kennemer, of Oregon City, was also unopposed. Finally, Mark Johnson, Hood River, withstood a challenge from Stephanie Nystrom, Corbett, with a surprisingly strong 58.8 percent to 40.7 percent result.
This despite a turnout of 69.05 percent (as of Nov. 10) for the county and 69.5 percent for Oregon overall. Bend Bulletin newspaper researchers consider Oregon’s numbers easily the biggest mid-term turnout in the country. Curiously, both Multnomah and Washington counties had a lower turnout than we did, and we were in the bottom quartile in the state. Lake County had over 80 percent of its registered voters vote. Republicans had a stronger turnout than Democrats here.
In the Senate, Democrats will see two unopposed members return in Richard Devlin, of Tualatin, and Rod Monroe, of SE Portland. Devlin is co-chair of the vitally important Joint Ways & Means Committee, and Diane Rosenbaum, of SE Portland, who wasn’t on the ballot this time, is Senate Majority Leader.
Only Senate President Peter Courtney, re-elected by a 53.5 to 46 percent margin over Marion County Commissioner and former State Rep. Patti Milne, is more powerful in that body, which will probably enjoy an 18-12 margin if former Rep Chuck Riley takes the Senate seat of Bruce Starr in Washington County. That margin, incidentally, gives the Democrats a full majority on all bills, including tax bills.
Republican Chuck Thomsen, of Hood River, was better than hard working Robert Bruce, Sandy, a political newcomer, for the seat that stretches from Hood River to Damascus and Clackamas to Corbett and east Multnomah County. The GOP’s Alan Olsen, of Canby, fought off pesky Jamie Damon, Eagle Creek, a former Clackamas County Commissioner, for the District 20 seat. That margin was 52.5 to 47.2 percent and Damon’s campaign worked hard in coordination with other legislative campaigns and Congressman Kurt Schrader, of Canby, who put a whuppin’ on that self-described good ol’ gal, Clackamas County Commissioner Tootie Smith, of Molalla. Her thumping was 55.51 percent to 38.10 in our county. Good luck going for re-election next year, Tootster.
Disappointing was Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall’s defeat of challenger David Robinson, West Linn, by a surprisingly wide margin. Hall, of Gladstone, who has managed one of the worst county clerk offices ever seen in the state, barely campaigned. And, while Robinson did his best to tell the sad story of her time in office, his guns weren’t big enough to overcome her ramparts in Oregon City. That our county can sustain such a terrible public servant as Sherry Hall remains a mystery.
In the state-wide races, Clackamas didn’t like victorious incumbent Governor John Kitzhaber for the second election in a row, while we voted for U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley over Monica Wehby, a well-heeled physician with lots of well-heeled support. Merkley got a good majority in our county. Indeed, our state was contrary to what appeared to be a national Republican sweep. We enlarged our bases in both legislative houses, re-elected all our Democratic members of Congress and our U.S. Senator and governor. Oregon remains definitely blue.
Down at the lower end of the ballot, Clackamas County Democrats endorsed Joe Buck for the Lake Oswego City Council, and he won. As did the West Linn-Wilsonville School district bond levy and Clackamas Community College levy. However, Jan Giunta, whom we also endorsed, lost to incumbent Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden. Our candidates won at the Milwaukie City Council level and for the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
Is there room for improvement? Always. Was the turnout higher in the precincts we put our energies into? Stay tuned.
Peter Toll has lived in Clackamas County more than 25 years, all the while active in Clackamas and Oregon Democratic activities. He is an independent financial advisor with a progressive perspective. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.