Clackamas Review- April 16th, 2014
Given that a hyper-partisan political action committee recently paid for the erection of a billboard that implies that the work myself and another commissioner have been doing is “B.S,” I am too.
In 2007, the voters in Clackamas County approved moving from a three-member partisan commission to a five-member non-partisan commission. Increasing the commission to five was logical considering the growing population and the need to conduct meetings when one or more commissioners were away on other county business.
But has the commission fulfilled the spirit of moving from a partisan to a non-partisan commission?
Should local government be bogged down with a partisan undercurrent that is often tense and divided?
As a political moderate who sits on the commission, I can tell you the answer to both questions is a resounding “no.”
I believe voters in Clackamas County are growing tired of political grandstanding, distortion of facts and negative attacks. The tone and messaging from the commission should be accurate and constructive, especially when there are differing opinions. Attacks and misleading rhetoric only undermine the ability of the county to garner credibility, further crippling any efforts to convince others, including large employers, to invest in Clackamas County.
Those that have an appetite to play in the partisan arena should look to the legislature where partisan political battles are fought, and allow nonpartisan local governments to address local needs such as roads, sewer, public safety and human services. Simply put, divisive partisan politics has no real place in county governance.
Political posturing leads to poor decision-making and stagnation. There are examples where affected governments lag behind while public funds are wasted as a result of drama. Your local city council, special district board or county commission may become a political training ground for the up and coming eager to move up. One only needs to look which cities and counties are succeeding and which are lagging behind.
It is time for the county commissioners to listen to what the voters told us in 2007: Stop playing partisan politics in county government. We have seen the negative consequences to this partisan approach, and I know we can do better.
Success often is the result of working together, regardless of party affiliation. It is troubling that some believe that a measure of loyalty to a particular party requires one to be adversarial with those of the opposite party. In order to build a better future we must work with those who share an interest in fulfilling the priorities of our citizens. According to our latest survey, the top three priorities are jobs/economic growth, roads and public safety.
Considering that most all of the public’s business before the county does not engage or involve any particular political party the county commission should yield to the voter’s non-partisan directive of 2007. There is a place for those with political passion and aspirations, and we should all recognize where partisan politics belongs, and where it does not.
There are substantial problems to be solved, both here and now, and in preparation for the future.
After all, our younger generations are relying upon us to plan their future responsibly, and it is our responsibility to be adults and set an example for them to follow.
Paul Savas is a Clackamas County commissioner and a candidate for re-election.