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One of the biggest reasons I’m running for chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners is the continued fiscal irresponsibility being shown by that body. I strongly feel that the county is on the wrong track when it comes to taxing and spending, and I am determined to fix it.

Throughout my years of public service, I’ve faced many difficult budgetary decisions. But I was always able to find a way to balance budgets and leave them in better shape than I found them.

I served in the Oregon House of Representatives from 2001 to 2005. That stint in the Legislature included holding the position of Deputy Majority Leader and being a member of the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee.

The nation was still in the grips of recession, and the state budget was in terrible shape. Revenues flowing into state coffers were declining. Many of my legislative colleagues said that the only way to balance the budget was to raise taxes.

However, I knew that people were struggling as they yet to experience any sort of economic recovery. I also believed strongly that raising their tax burden would make life harder for them, their families and businesses throughout the state.

Along with my colleagues, I set forth to identify and prioritize key services. We also cut any spending that we felt was wasteful and unnecessary. Despite the challenges involved, we balanced the budget without raising taxes.

I inherited a similar situation when first elected to the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners in November 2012. America was still coming out of its worst economy in nearly 100 years, since the Great Depression.

Even though there was constant pressure to raise taxes and fees, I listened to the county residents who were my constituents and found a way to balance the budget. In fact, the county’s budget had a surplus by the time my four-year term ended in January 2017.

So how has the county faired since then? Not nearly as well.

There is no doubt that the national economy is now much better than it was when I served in the Legislature and the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners. The state of Oregon has experienced record revenues for years and so has Clackamas County.

However, the county has experienced a $20 million deficit over the past two years. Its financial situation has gotten so dire that Sheriff Craig Roberts has public called for an audit of the county’s funds.

To make matters worse, commissioners voted to increase residents’ vehicle registration fees. I successfully lead the charge to fight back against similar vehicle registration fee increases when I served on the Board of Commissioners.

The current Clackamas County Commissioners and its Chair Jim Bernard aren’t content to let it stop there. They’re also supporting more bonds and taxes for Metro, an agency with a very poor track record when it comes to spending the public’s money.

Rather than hold Metro accountable, Jim Bernard and the commissioners are putting you on the hook for more multi-billion dollar mistakes.

Your choice in the upcoming Clackamas County Commissioner chair’s race couldn’t be clearer. I am proud to stand behind my record of balanced budgets and sound financial management. My top priority was always to make sure that your hard-earned tax dollars were spent wisely and responsibly, at both the state and county level.

Jim Bernard has demonstrated time and again that he considers your pocketbook a source for bailouts for bungling bureaucrats and their billion-dollar boondoggles.

As the next chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, I will work tirelessly to ensure that the county’s budget is not balanced on your back through unnecessary tax and fee increases.

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