© 2022 Tootie Smith for Oregon. All Rights Reserved.

What We’re Working Toward

In order to truly thrive, an organization needs to have clearly defined goals and objectives in place. Those goals should be agreed upon by the organization’s leaders and employees and be understood by all involved, for the sake of achieving a sense of buy-in.

As chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, my duties include getting a sense of what the county’s residents want us to accomplish on their behalf. That helps us to identify priorities and figure out the best ways to implement them.

Earlier this year, the board went over what its goals are for the next few years. This was done not too long after I took over as the new chair.

Many of the key goals we worked on involved building public trust through good government. My fellow commissioners agreed that the county’s budget should be structurally sound, sustainable and completely tied to results. The timeline for this to be done was originally left vague, as a range of two to three years, with a specific date left incomplete. Under my leadership, the goal now states that it will be done by 2022. The county has already taken the steps to meet that goal.

Another priority area for the commissioners was growing a vibrant economy. The goals for doing that were originally fairly open-ended; the board wanted to increase the number of businesses operating in a supportive environment over the course of two to three years.

I insisted that there be better benchmarks to measure progress. The board agreed. Now, the goal is to have 75 percent of our county businesses reporting that they’re operating in a supportive environment by the year 2024. Even better is that we’re looking to have a 15 percent increase in jobs that meet the self-sufficiency standard wage by 2026.

The board also wants to build a strong infrastructure. We want to find federal, state and regional funding for the next phase of the Sunrise Gateway Multimodal Corridor by 2024. I’m pleased to report that we appear to be on track in meeting this goal, as the county secured state funding for planning and community engagement for this project during the 2021 legislative session.

All of this proves and demonstrates that it’s much easier to get things done when you know what you’re working towards. In a short period of time, the board of commissioners has been able to state what it is that we want to do, set firm deadlines and taken solid, concrete, measurable steps to getting them done. This is exactly what I meant when I said that I intended to use the position as chair to get the county back on the right track. We obviously have a lot of work ahead of us, but I think we’ve gotten off to a great start this year.

As always, I welcome all comments. Please feel free to contact me by clicking here.

Tootie Smith demands Gov Brown return public health authority back to the counties where it is mandated by Oregon constitution.

The Governor’s new lockdowns are unacceptable.

Her plans for over the last year have been an abject failure, driving businesses to bankruptcy, people to unemployment lines and harming the mental health of adults and children alike.

Its time for new innovative proven technologies to fight Covid 19, like what the airlines have been using for months now. Science, technology and innovation are our friends and we can’t even have a conversation in this state about it.

As more and more people are being vaccinated every day, it is time for a new approach that does not penalize businesses. I implore the state to use an accurate data driven approach they have touted to make decisions about business restrictions.  If the state were truly using a data driven approach, we would not be restricting restaurants and closing gyms.

Gov Brown needs to return what she took away through executive order and that is: the public health authority to the counties of Oregon as mandated by Oregon Constitution.  That is the job of county government and  each county knows their metrics, health and businesses.

 Gov Brown’s actions continue to erode trust in our communities and is preventing the people who are charged by law with caring for the public health of their communities from doing their job. It’s time Gov Brown care and respect the people she was elected to serve.

I want to be clear, that although  we are advocating that Gov Brown consider another approach to restrictions on businesses, I believe we should continue to follow the public safety protocols that we have been following for the past year to keep us safe.

It’s important for residents to know many different approaches can be done at the same time. We can open businesses, preserve the health of everyone, provide vaccinations and develop ways to combat future known and unknown viruses  with proven technology. Oregon deserves better, each person deserves better.

My Closing Arguments

The May 19 primary election is just around the corner. Voter pamphlet statements have gone out, and people have received their ballots. Many have even turned them in by now. Yard signs are up, and so are field signs. Campaign websites are filled with content, candidate social media pages are active and voters’ mailboxes are flooded with election-related materials.

The coronavirus crisis is unprecedented in our elections, which means that we have to do things differently. It has limited the amount of grassroots, retail politicking that candidates can do. Gone are the handshakes, parades and town hall meetings. Instead, they’re replaced by virtual meetings broadcast over the internet.

These next few days are especially critical in my race for chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners. Since there are only two candidates, there will be no runoff in the November general election. It will all be decided on May 19.

I’ve been using all the available means over the past couple of months to make the case as to why I should replace Jim Bernard as the chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners. The biggest reason is that I feel the county is heading in the wrong direction under his “leadership” and I think I can do a better job.

As a former small business owner, two-term member of the Oregon House of Representatives and commissioner, I have the right experience. I was on the legislature’s Ways and Means Committee and helped balance budgets, even in difficult times. Under my leadership, Clackamas County’s budget had a surplus. It has been squandered in the years since and replaced with growing deficits.

Our residents are spending more time stuck in traffic on roads that haven’t been maintained, while billion-dollar, fixed route light rail boondoggles continue to be forced on them. Homelessness from Portland is making its way to our communities, due to decades of public policies that make housing less affordable for working people. But instead of focusing on these problems, Bernard has called for higher taxes to pay more consultants for “special projects” that do not benefit county residents.

These problems have been perpetuated and made worse over time, and no amount of tax dollars going to the county, or Metro, is going to make them better. It’s been a matter of misplaced priorities and reckless spending that I intend to put a stop to.

Instead of incurring debt and raising taxes to construct a new courthouse, I will lead efforts to lease and renovate existing commercial space for a fraction of the cost. I will put Clackamas County residents first, not county government, and certainly not Metro.

My emphasis will be on customer service and being responsive to what county residents want and don’t want. County government will work to prioritize key services that aren’t already provided at the city, state or federal levels.

Lastly, I will advocate for loggers, ranchers, farmers and truckers and stand with business owners to create a more prosperous county. I will work to create an environment where the entrepreneurial spirit can thrive, instead of treating businesses and their owners as revenue sources to continue growing county government.

But I need your help to do all this. I need you to turn in your ballots by May 19 so they can be counted and our voices can be heard. And together, we can, and will, get Clackamas County back on the right track.

Customer Service as a Top Priority

At the end of the day, the purpose of every public organization should be to improve the quality of life for the citizens it serves. But far too often, it seems that the politicians and bureaucrats in government agencies prioritize pet projects over their residents’ needs.

Throughout my careers in both the public and private sector, I’ve placed an emphasis on customer service. It’s the same approach I intend to take as the next chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners.

Customer service was critical back when I was owning and operating businesses. My husband and I ran a historic bed and breakfast hospitality site in Molalla. We always made sure that our customers received the experience that they expected and were happy with the service we provided them.

In the private sector, failure to meet customers’ expectations usually means having to close your doors. If you raise your prices too high, customers will take their business elsewhere. If you aren’t responsive to what your customers want, you won’t have any more of them.

Somehow, people in the public sector often have a completely different attitude. They seem to forget that they are there to serve the public, and not the other way around.

As a longtime resident of Clackamas County, I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with the level and quality of service being provided by those who are supposed to be leading us. It’s one of the biggest reasons I’m running for commission chair.

Residents’ quality of life is eroding in many key areas. To put it simply, Portland’s problems seem to be making their way over to Clackamas County, with the tacit encouragement of our county board of commissioners and its chair. Instead of focusing taxpayer resources on solutions that could solve some of those problems, our county politicians are demanding more taxes be paid to them and other organizations like Metro. No private business would survive by conducting itself that way.

Take transportation, for example. The county has a big backlog of roads that need to be better maintained. Good customer service would dictate that the county start fixing potholes. Commute times continue to grow as Portland area traffic gets worse over time. Are there any plans to build new roads? Sadly, there are not. It isn’t even being discussed. And given current county political leadership, I don’t expect that to change any time soon.

The answer to our road quality and traffic problems isn’t to continue pouring billions of dollars into inefficient light rail systems that most residents don’t use and never will. It isn’t to charge residents tolls to drive on existing roads that their tax dollars have already paid for. Not only is that a failure of leadership, but it’s bad customer service. Clackamas County residents deserve better than that.

County leadership needs to do a better job of being responsive to citizens’ concerns, rather than viewing them as sources of additional revenue. As chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, I intend to put the customer service of county residents at the forefront of every decision I make.