If Washington County is the largest pivot in Oregon electoral politics, Clackamas County to its southeast - and, roughly, south of Portland - would be the secondary pivot. It is more Republican than Washington County, but its voting base - the third largest in Oregon - is closely enough balanced that it's a major target for political strategists. Its legislative districts are closely enough balanced that they're also often battlegrounds. Ad it is a growth county - changes will happen.
The reapportionment hearing here this afternoon drew an audience of 50 or so in addition to the legislators, some locals, plus the committee members. Most of them spoke.
Representative Bill Kennemer, the Republican from District 39 (which includes Oregon City, where today's hearing was held) and also a former Clackamas County commissioner, suggested that in some ways Clackamas has been "regarded as the stepchild in the urban area", its legislative districts interstiched with Multnomah County. (Similar arguments came up about Washington County on Friday.) But he did say that his own district, centered on Oregon City and Canby, has a distinct internal community of interest.
Not all of the areas of Clackamas fit in. A speaker from the Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce pointed out some relevant anomalies about it: Fast population growth (almost 40% in the 00s) but also that much of the business development has been apart from the population base. It's a very different kind of place than Oregon City or Canby, which are not far away. To what should it be linked - Tualatin and Sherwood, or somewhere else? The Wilsonville speaker said that there are contacts with Washington County even closer, in some ways, than to the rest of Clackamas (though a piece of Wilsonville is in a far-flung part of Washington). The connection to Sherwood and Newberg are fairly tight, he suggested. (The city of Wilsonville is split between both two House and two Senate districts.)
That led Representative Chris Garrett, D-Lake Oswego, to muse about the difficulty of using any one standard as the basis for drawing lines. County lines are often considered important boundaries, but they may not be the most important in all cases. (more…)