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Community reacts to Ludlow comments

It’s an unspoken rule of politics: Local elected officials don’t usually oppose the re-election campaigns of members of their own city council, county commission, or water or school board.

Clackamas County Chairman John Ludlow felt the stakes were too high during the current election cycle to follow that guideline. Although he criticized Commissioner Martha Schrader last month for endorsing fellow commissioners Paul Savas and Jim Bernard, Ludlow on Saturday endorsed Karen Bowerman and Steve Bates, opponents of Savas and Bernard. Reactions from the community were swift to Ludlow’s April 5 letter.

Milwaukie Mayor Jeremy Ferguson said he was disappointed to read Ludlow’s endorsements. “Clearly, Chair Ludlow mistakes Paul Savas’ unwillingness to follow the chair’s often misguided leadership as confusion or ineffectiveness,” Ferguson said. “Ludlow’s childish temper tantrums that we’ve sadly grown accustomed to seeing in commission meetings are now making their way into our local election, where they are filled with personal, misleading attacks against Paul.”

“I don’t believe they should be cutting down their own commissioners who are working hard with them on behalf of citizens,” Jo Haverkamp of Oregon City said.

As a researcher who “just wants to consider what’s best for the community,” Savas intimidates Ludlow, Haverkamp argued. She said, “Ludlow wants Karen Bowerman and Steve Bates in there because he wants a four-to-one vote, and he wants to control... We don’t need someone to control our county — we need differences of opinion.”

Jane Lokan of Milwaukie agrees Savas isn’t someone who would cut anyone down, although Savas has been trying to correct misinformation on his campaign website, electpaulsavas.com.

“I approve of what Paul Savas has been doing, and I don’t think we should try to remove a fellow Republican,” Lokan said. “When people cut down active folks from their own party, it’s generally an ugly thing.”

Ginny Davidson, a Milwaukie resident, said “it’s not OK for a chair to put something out that tries to cut down someone who’s been trying help our community,” Davidson said.

Savas said Ludlow’s endorsement would have been troubling enough on its own, but the bigger problem was its attacking tone.

“It’s unfortunate that my colleague has turned his endorsement into an attack on me rather than educating voters on where my opponent stands on the issues that matter most to our community. He has deleted and distorted the facts on recent issues, including my role in the Urban Renewal District decision, which I have been working to close since 2011. While Chair Ludlow mentions my abstentions, he failed to mention how his disorganization left the commission ill-prepared to responsibly vote on critical issues.”