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Activist runs for Washington County chair

Allen Amabisca, a retired Intel financial analyst, plans to run against Washington County Chair Andy Duyck in the May primary election.

Amabisca serves as treasurer with the Save Helvetia organization, a coalition of Helvetia residents working to protect the community and its neighboring agricultural lands. He previously served on the West Union Elementary School Board.

A group of Amabisca supporters plans to formally launch his campaign Thursday evening at the Helvetia Tavern.

Amabisca's challenge, which was confirmed by multiple sources, comes amid continued criticisms that the current Washington County Board of Commissioners has favored development over preservation.

Duyck, who has been on the board since 1994, is seeking a second four-year term as chairman. He says the county's policies have made it the economic engine of Oregon, producing he highest family incomes and lowest unemployment rate in the metropolitan region.

Activist support

Amabisca is supported by a political action committee comprised of Democrats and liberal political activists. The Washington County Action PAC announced the Thursday gathering on its Facebook page several days ago.

The PAC also supports former U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Furse (D-1st District) against Commissioner Bob Terry. And it is backing incumbent Greg Malinowski , who is opposed by Bob Zahrowski, an Oregon Institute of Technology professor and business consultant.

Although the vast majority of commission votes are unanimous, the activists believe the board is actually split three to two, with the majority generally favoring development over environmental preservation. Duyck and Terry are perceived to be in the majority, along with Roy Rogers. Malinowski and Dick Schouten are often in the minority on many board issues.

The PAC is closely associated with the Washington County Citizens Action Network, a coalition of community, environmental and social justice organizations. The PAC was originally called the Washington County Community Action Network (WCCAN) PAC. Two of its directors serve on the board of the network. One is Linda Peters, former Washington County chairwoman, who now chairs the WCCAN. The other is Vice Chairman Luis Nava, a Latino community organizer.

The two other PAC directors have ties to the Washington County Democratic Party. One is Ron Morgan, the party's field organizer. The other is Matthew Koehler, who runs the party's Facebook page.