Lynn Peterson joins Governor's staff; Clackamas County faces shake-up

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

In a bit of a surprise announcement, Governor John Kitzhaber announced today that he has chosen Clackamas County Chair Lynn Peterson to serve as a policy advisor on land use and transportation policy. According to the announcement, "Ms. Peterson will lead the Governor’s policy efforts on transportation initiatives including, high speed rail, freight and highway planning and improvement, the Solar Highway, and linking transportation to housing and sustainability."

It was a slight surprise - as Peterson had been rumored to be under consideration for the top job at ODOT. When the Governor decided to retain Matt Garrett, Peterson looked to be dialed in at Clackamas County.

Once Peterson leaves the County, effective March 11, the remaining four commissioners will appoint a replacement. It's worth noting that Peterson was the first-ever county-wide elected chair - after voters approved a 2007 charter revision that expanded the commission in 2009 to five members (from three), made them nonpartisan, and made the chair a separate elected office.

The four commissioners could appoint any Clackamas resident (over age 18) to the top job. Should they choose to appoint one of themselves, then that seat would be vacant - and they'd have to appoint a replacement for that spot, too.

In any case, voters will get a chance to participate in the process in May (and possibly November) 2012, as the Chair position will be up. Commissioners Ann Lininger and Charlotte Lehan will also be up in 2012. Jim Bernard and Paul Savas aren't up until 2014, having just been elected in 2010. (Of course, if either the Bernard or Savas seat were to become vacant and filled by appointment, that person would face an election in 2012 as well.)

Reaction and speculation on the jump...

BikePortland is positive:

This appointment is sure to make active transportation advocates across the state very excited as she's a strong proponent of rail and in projects that reduce people's reliance on cars. It remains to be seen how Peterson will interact with ODOT's top brass and what exactly her level of influence will be at the decision-making table, but shes got the credentials and experience to have a major impact if given the opportunity.

The O's Yuxing Zheng names Bob Austin and Martha Schrader - both past Clackamas County commissioners as possible candidates for either chair or to replace an elevated commissioner. Austin was defeated last fall by Savas - and Schrader was appointed to the State Senate in 2009, before being defeated in the 2010 election.

In the Lake Oswego Review, Milwaukie City Councilor (and former top dog in the Legislative Counsel's office) Greg Chaimov:

"I think it's a terrific choice for the governor; Lynn is ideal for the position considering the issues she's always been interested in."


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    One more slightly-related news note: Patricia McCaig will serve as the Governor's advisor on the Columbia River Crossing project. McCaig was his top strategic advisor on the campaign, and was chief of staff to Governor Barbara Roberts.

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    That's a win for the Governor - loss for Clackamas County.

    Congrats to Lynn!

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    Once again, we in Clackamas county will have an appointed commissioner. Ever since the change to five Commissioners, it has been a tight, self-sustaining, self-appointing oligarchy. I give credit to Jim Bernard for mentioning a preference for an East County person, but he or she will still be hyper-liberal, like almost everyone else on the Commission. Until the four non-chair positions are in districts instead of at-large, the Commission will represent suburbia, not the county.

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      Ever since the change to five Commissioners, it has been a tight, self-sustaining, self-appointing oligarchy.

      Sorry, Ken, but that's nonsense.

      • Ann Lininger was elected by a 66 to 33 margin in November 2010.

      • Paul Savas was elected in November 2010 by a narrow 50-49 margin over a commissioner that was appointed.

      • Jim Bernard was elected with 54% of the vote in a three-way race in May 2010.

      • Charlotte Lehan was elected by a 52-47 margin in November 2008, after getting 46% of the vote in a four-way primary in May 2008.

      • And in November 2008, Lynn Peterson was elected chair by the voters. She was unopposed in that race.

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        I live here. It is not nonsense. When the Commission expanded, they appointed two ultra-liberals, Bob Austin and Ann Lininger. Both then were able to run again using the power of incumbency. The only moderate Commissioner is Paul Savas, everyone else is hard-left. I know it doesn't seem so from the denizens of this board, but to the average person they are very liberal.

        I live, work and politick in Clackamas county. I opposed the ballot measure that expanded the board primarily because it continued the at-large Commissioner position. I didn't like the changing the board to non-partisan, but could have lived with it. With Larry Sowa losing his race, and Bill Kennemer running for the legislature, the Machiavellian takeover of the County commission by the left was complete. It was brilliant, but shafted the non-suburbia voters. Since it is non-partisan, the libs are able to disguise their beliefs enough to get elected in a moderate county.

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          Dude. The power of incumbency doesn't get you a 66-33 win -- especially after the county clerk (of the opposite persuasion) tells you that you've got a May campaign, so you spend your campaign funds, only to learn that it's a November campaign.

          And it's downright hilarious that you complain about Austin's "power of incumbency" and then praise Savas. Savas beat Austin!

          Sure, when they expanded from three to five, they had to appoint two new members. One won election, one didn't.

          In any case, all five members of the commission today have faced the voters - almost all multiple times.

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          I chuckled when you described the commission as "hard-left", but then, some say perception is reality. I do agree that partisan elections by district would have been preferable.

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      Hyper-liberal? You don't know from hyper-liberal. In my neighborhood we regularly kvetch that the commission too often bends to pressure from the Tea Party crazies.

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