It's a measure of how much the political climate in Clackamas County has shifted in the past couple of years that the county commission will tonight hold a public reception for the five candidates to be the next county administrator and one of the five finalists is Martha Bennett, the chief operating officer of the Metro regional government.
Only six years ago, the Oregon Transformation Project, a conservative political action committee ran a slate of candidates for the county commission whose primary message was anti-Metro. The PAC put up billboards urging voters to "Protect Clackamas County…From Portland creep."
The billboards and campaign rhetoric were urged voters to reject the transit-friendly land use planning in which Metro specializes. And the message worked: Clackamas County voters turned the commission hard to the right, electing John Ludlow county chairman and his ally Tootie Smith to a commissioner's seat.
But Ludlow and Smith lost their bids for re-election in 2016, putting Democrats back in charge (although the commission rates are nominally non-partisan).
So tonight, county residents will have a chance to meet the five finalists to replace retiring County Administrator Don Krupp: Darryl Bell, formerly the deputy city manager in Walla Walla, Wash.; Walter Bobkiewicz, City Manager, Evanston, Illinois; Laurel Butman the deputy county administrator in Clackamas County; Gary Schmidt, the county's director of public and government affairs; and, Bennett, who before becoming Metro's top administrator in 2011, served as city manager for Ashland and before that, as director of the Columbia River Gorge Commission.