Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Furse announces for WaCo Commission

Carla Axtman

For many years now, there's been battle for the soul of Washington County. Widely seen as the economic engine for the rest of the state, a handful of powerful home and commercial developers have often been handed the keys to the county, essentially able to build as they please. Current District 4 Commissioner Bob Terry has been more than happy to allow this continue. Along with County Chair Andy Duyck and (to a lesser extent) Commissioner Roy Rogers, the Tea Party conservative Terry has allowed developer interests to all but run the county, often giving the finger to small business owners and Oregon's land use system in the process.

Democrat and former Congresswoman Elizabeth Furse stepped up today to challenge Terry. Furse, a resident of Helvetia, filed for the District 4 position this morning. When current events lead to a perfectly happy former Congresswoman to come out of elected service retirement, you know people must be pretty fed up.

From her announcement:

When I was in Congress, I fought to build a strong Washington County that was an economic engine done the right way — light rail, strong communities and preservation of our farms and open spaces,” Furse said. “Over the last 15 years, I’ve watched progress erode as tax giveaways are handed to land developers, backroom deals are made and traffic-clogging roads stem from unplanned communities.

“I believe I can bring a much-needed change to county leadership and prioritize what matters: police and fire, education and preservation of Washington County’s farm and forest economy in a manner that complements our industrial economy.”

In other words, Furse seeks to balance industrial interests with the other economic drivers of the county such as agriculture, timber and tourism.

Certainly, someone like Bob Terry won’t go easily - he and Andy Duyck have been very good to their friends, and those folks will likely do whatever they can to sink her and keep Terry in his seat. The developer that received a $2.3 million secret loan from Terry and Duyck just gave the conservative Duyck $37,6000 in one campaign contribution. For reference, Duyck only raised $80,000 TOTAL when running for Chair in 2010.

So how will Furse win? One of the first things a campaign like Furse needs is money. And it will have to come from lots of donors because Terry will most certainly have his handful of rainmakers to shower dollars his way. You can give on her website today, you can volunteer, host a house party, etc.

Washington County has long been led by commissioners that don’t share our values. Elizabeth Furse is a real a chance to change all of that.

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