The fight over vehicle registration fees in Clackamas County has been going on for a very long time now, in some form or another. And throughout the last decade, I have consistently said people have a right to vote for new taxes or fees. sided with the people of this county in opposing it.
A previous board of commissioners had approved a vehicle registration fee in December 2010. The worst part of the proposal? The funds raised through it were going to be used to replace the Sellwood Bridge—which is located in Multnomah County. That’s right; Clackamas County voters were going to be paying more to register their cars to pay for a bridge in a county they don’t live in.
The fee was scheduled to start in 2012. But before that could happen, though, understandably outraged residents circulated a petition to force a vote on it. They obtained the required number of valid signatures to put it on the May 2011 ballot.
Clackamas County voters soundly rejected the vehicle registration fee 63 to 36 percent. Around 31,000 residents supported it, but over 53,000 opposed it. The voters had spoken loudly and clearly. Apparently, they weren’t interested in paying higher vehicle registration fees to fund a bridge located in another county.
I joined those residents in opposing that proposal from the very beginning. In fact, I think that issue was among those that helped get me elected to the board of commissioners in the November 2012 general election.
Flash forward four years from then, after the 2016 election. The board of commissioners and its chair position had changed, bringing with them a whole new set of priorities. And even though county voters had overwhelmingly stood against the vehicle registration fee, the board decided to bring it back. This time, it was done without any public involvement.
As was the case years before, I was against it. I also suspected that the majority of county voters who voted against it probably hadn’t changed their minds.
I was so unhappy with the high-tax, high-spending approach of that county board and its chair that I ran for the chairmanship position last year. Voters agreed with my positions and I won outright in the May 2020 primary election.
Part of my platform was my consistent opposition to the vehicle registration fee and a commitment to having it repealed.
I recently brought the fee before my fellow commissioners in the hopes that they would agree with me and the majority of the citizens they represent. Much to my disappointment, most of my fellow board members wanted to maintain the status quo of having the fee in place. I even gave them the chance to have it referred to voters again, just like it had been almost ten years ago to the day. They weren’t willing to do that.
To me, the most important function of a commissioner’s job is to listen to the people of the county. If the residents voted to keep the vehicle registration fee, I would support that stance.
It isn’t too late for us to bring this fee up for a vote. But I need your help convincing my fellow commissioners.
If you want my fellow commissioners to give you a vote on repealing the vehicle registration, email firstname.lastname@example.org. I will work to ensure that your voice is heard on this, and all other matters. Hopefully, the rest of the board will eventually agree.