Sellwood Bridge-fee foes turn in 7,792 signatures
UPDATED: Project may hinge on Clackamas County’s May ballot
Petitioners turned in 7,792 signatures on Wednesday, Feb. 16, the deadline to place a controversial $5 vehicle registration fee increase on Clackamas County’s May 17 ballot.
To refer an ordinance to voters, the petitioners had 90 full days to submit 6,252 verified signatures. On Dec. 9 the Board of County Commissioners passed the ordinance to help fund the reconstruction of the Sellwood Bridge.
Chief petitioner and former Oregon City Commissioner Dan Holladay expressed relief that the campaign would “take advantage of the anger of voters” as soon as possible. If the petitioners had waited until the March 9 deadline, the issue would wait appear until the county’s Sept. 20 ballot.
By state statute, the Clackamas County Elections Division has 15 days to verify the signatures after they’ve been turned in. The required number of signatures amounts to 4 percent of county voters in the most recent governor’s race.
“We’ve been very careful going through these signature sheets deleting any outside of Clackmas County, so we’re confident that our petition will be accepted,” Holladay said.
Using the state-prescribed random sampling technique, Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall expected to determine whether there are enough valid signatures by the middle of next week.
After signing an agreement with the city of Portland this month, Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen said that bridge construction would be completed by the end of 2016, even if Clackamas County voters reject the fee. Cogen added that the partnership would “find a way” to complete the project.
Cogen later clarified that this statement was not to suggest that the contribution from Clackamas County was not essential to the Sellwood project.
“I was hoping to convey that we were very determined to move the bridge project forward, but the simple truth is that even with Clackamas County’s contribution we have a funding gap of at least $20 million,” he said. “Without Clackamas County’s contribution the Sellwood Bridge project is more than $40 million short, with no clear path to reaching the goal.”
Recent design changes may also reduce the estimated cost of the replacement project by $41 million – from $331 million down to $290 million.
Clackamas County Commissioners didn’t want to listen to the will of the taxpayers in Clackamas County. Multnomah County and the City of Portland area responsible for the Sellwood Bridge. Mismanagement of their affairs- and desparation to build light rail in Milwaukie- make our Commissioners blind to the will of the people. It’s time to send another message and gear up to replace those who insist we shut up and just take it.