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Election's mixed bag for OC's urban-renewal critics

Early election results suggest that urban-renewal critics in Oregon City have largely won the day.

Measure 3-407, on the same Nov. 6 ballot as two pairs of Oregon City Commission candidates, easily passed by more than 70 percent to require public votes on the city’s tax increment-financed projects. But OC voters also elected a commissioner, by a 60-percent margin, who was opposed to the measure.

Mayor Doug Neeley, who had opposed allowing citizens to weigh in on complicated tax-increment financing, said Tuesday night that he wasn’t surprised that the measure passed.

“It’s a case now of letting the voters know what the benefits are to projects and identifying specifically what we need to invest in, such as the pilings on the landfill,” Neeley said.

City Recorder Nancy Ide said that commissioners will have to certify the election results before the voting provision affects urban-renewal decisions, but it seems unlikely that a proposal on Rossman Landfill will come to fruition in the next couple weeks.

Urban-renewal commissioners hesitated last month to give another shopping-mall developer its requested $23 million contribution for making the site developable (See last week’s story, “Round two kicks off on landfill site”). The commissioners voted 5-2 last month to continue negotiations on the apartments proposed at the Clackamette Cove as well.

City Commission candidates Mike Berman and Carol Pauli, both Oregon City pub owners, had opposite views on a citywide urban-renewal measure, and Berman, a Measure 3-407 supporter, lost Tuesday’s election after challenges to his ballot eligibility and his racked-up parking tickets.

Pauli, owner of KC’s Midway Historic Public House, was appointed on Feb. 15 on a promise to bridge the political divide after December’s recall of Commissioner Jim Nicita.

In the Voters’ Pamphlet, she wrote that it was an honor to be appointed and serve with other commissioners on City Commission these past several months.

“I deeply appreciated their vote of confidence and am looking forward to the possibility of continuing in my role as your elected representative,” she said. “Join me in building a more unified, livable and economically vibrant Oregon City.”

Smith projected to win

Meanwhile, commission candidate Tim Powell, a former city commissioner and former chairman of Oregon City’s Planning Commission who opposed allowing citizens a vote on urban renewal, lost by the same 60 percent margin to Commissioner Rocky Smith, who said in his re-election campaign that he would respect the will of voters either way.

Smith, the City Commission’s president and lifelong resident, is an Oregon City High School art teacher whose father was a city police officer and whose uncle was mayor.

After Clackamas County rejected the library’s proposed location this year, Smith said the city needs to come out with another solution for Oregon City’s Public Library quickly, but added “coming up with the right solution” is equally important to him. In other facility priorities, he’s helping look for a new public works facility, a replacement police station by 2020 and a City Hall expansion.



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