It’s not difficult to determine the most significant transportation priority for the metro region. What is difficult is finding the funds to pay for it. The recent passage of the transportation bill by Congress is a good start. Now it is important for the Oregon Legislature to find a compromise and pass a transportation bill.
Clackamas County and the region have determined I205 from the Stafford Exit to Oregon City is of regional significance. If you have sat in this parking lot and thought about how much it costs the trucking industry, shippers, small businesses, the environment, and your time. You know why fixing this problem is my #1 priority.
My second priority is funding the completion of Sunrise Corridor Phase II. Phase I improves access to Clackamas Industrial opportunity sites along HWY 212, while Phase II would open up more industrial land towards Damascus. Improving freight mobility and creating access additional employment lands is key to Clackamas County’s future.
My third priority is funding road maintenance. This can be accomplished through a variety of channels including a Vehicle Registration Fee (VRF) increase, road maintenance utility fee, or gas tax. My goal would be to work with the community to select a package of projects and a supportable funding strategy that could be adopted by the board or in the case of a gas tax, supported by the electorate.
The issues surrounding the Urban/Rural reserves process and decision have been devastating for Clackamas County, and strained relationships with our regional partners. Because a decision has not been made, Clackamas County is unable to plan for the future. A friend once told me his mom always said, “When you’re right, you’re right; when you’re wrong, you’re nowhere” this is where Clackamas County is today, nowhere.
We have basically two issues. First, South of the Willamette, the Maletis property (Langdon Farms). The courts determined the factors were properly applied and the designation of rural reserve was legal. The Stafford portion designated urban reserve needed additional work and had to address the impact of growth on demand for transportation. This portion was sent back (remanded) to the County and Metro to address this issue. While this has been portrayed as Metro forcing density on the Stafford Hamlet, in reality it has nothing to do with density. The three cities of West Linn, Lake Oswego, and Tualatin along with those that live in Stafford will work in conjunction to determine its future.
Dropping south of the Willamette is a “No Win” issue. It is vital that instead of bucking our regional government, Clackamas County work closely with Metro to address future employment lands. Resolve the remand or we will be “nowhere”.
While no member of the board voted in favor of legalizing marijuana, the voters did. I believe the board had realistic concerns and a greater understanding of what legalization and regulation would mean to our residents, but our job was to find a balance between personal freedoms and responsible management. On December 17th, we passed Ordinance ZDO-254, which I believe does attempt to be both fair and balanced. Never was the potential tax revenue a determining factor on this issue for me, because it is still unknown whether net revenue will adequately fund law and code enforcement. I think it is a shame that we have become so dependent on “sin tax” to fund our schools, law enforcement, and economic development.
Protecting victims of abuse, public safety, reducing prison population, and providing adequate funding to law enforcement has always been one of my top priorities. We need to focus first on our families because abuse is a generational problem that must be addressed early or those same victims will themselves become the future perpetrators. Our prison and jail population are made up of a large percentage of those we failed to protect. Our jails and prisons have become storage facilities for the mentally ill. Clackamas County’s focus has been addressing this issue at our “Family Justice Center, a Safe Place”, a one stop center helping families get out of the cycle of abuse. We are also making sure that when people transition from our jail and Oregon’s prisons they have access to housing and services that support a smooth transition back into society, including drug and alcohol treatment, resume preparation, education, mental health and healthcare referral, as well as job training. Our investment in transition planning will help reduce recidivism and provide options. We also need to continue to focus our attention on our veterans returning home, who unable to find adequate jobs, housing and services are getting caught up in the system.
The tax payers expect us to spend their money wisely. That why I have focused on a budget that gives citizens the greatest return on their investment. Whether in funding roads or public safety, it requires an understanding of the budget process and faithfully selecting projects and programs that do the most good, while providing the greatest return. More importantly our job is to “watch the money”, as my dad always said. I started the county’s first audit committee seven years ago, and remain it’s chair. I proposed, and the board adopted a small grant program which provides small agencies around the county with funds to aid their most vulnerable citizens.