Ken Quinby, Diane McKeel, and Carla Piluso (a campaign staffer filled in for Piluso, who was unable to attend) were the main attractions at the Troutdale General Store yesterday afternoon during a meet and greet with a group of east Multnomah County city officials. City councilors from Troutdale (including yours truly), Gresham and Fairview enjoyed an informal discussion with the three candidates for Multnomah County Commissioner #4.
Quinby, currently a Fairview city councilor, emphasized his success with increasing citizen involvement in Fairview, as well as his strong background in emergency management. A majority of attendees agreed with Quinby that Multnomah County's emergency management processes leave much to be desired.
McKeel, Director of the West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce, highlighted her many community connections with east Multnomah County organizations and recited a long list of boards and committees she has served on. McKeel said she wanted to emphasize health care, specifically education geared towards healthier lifestyles.
Piluso's staffer (sorry, I can't remember his name, but he was a well informed, energetic, freshly scrubbed young man. . .and I've always wanted to use the overtly outdated term "freshly scrubbed", so there you go. . .) highlighted Piluso's many awards and honors, her successes as Gresham's Chief of Police, and her successful efforts to get money for gang enforcement dollars from the Oregon legislature.
When the topic of the Sellwood bridge came up, there was strong agreement that Multnomah County failed to work closely with the cities for a solution. We also were in agreement that the County's rushed attempt to gain city approval for their Sellwood bridge funding plan left little time for negotiation, discussion, or success.
There was agreement with Gresham city councilor Shirley Craddick, who said she thought Multnomah County had failed over the last ten years or so to focus on its core mission of public safety, and public health issues.
Piluso's staffer maintained a slippery, non-answer of an answer when I asked him if Piluso could now commit to supporting each east county city's share of the business income tax. (Read about this issue here). I brought this issue up again because I asked Piluso at her campaign kickoff last November if she would commit to long term support for revenue sharing of Multnomah County's business income tax with east Multnomah County's four cities- Gresham, Troutdale, Fairview, and Wood Village. Piluso's first answer was a generic non-answer. So I asked her again. She said no, she could not make that commitment. And guess what! Piluso's staffer gave the same non-answer.
Finally, everyone at the meeting yesterday afternoon agreed that it would be a sunny day indeed on the County Commission when the last of the "mean girls" rode off into the sunset.
If you're asking yourself who I'd vote for among these candidates, I haven't decided yet. However, Piluso is an east wind's breath away from elimination due to her refusal to provide a direct "yes or no" answer to questions regarding support for continued county business income tax sharing with east county cities. She still in the running for my vote, but just barely.
I was a little concerned that McKeel, instead of sharing specific accomplishments, recited an admirably long list of boards and committees she has served on. There is a difference, after all, between serving on a board and actually accomplishing things. It's up to McKeel to tell us her history of getting things done.
Quinby is the only candidate who has both private sector experience and service as an elected official. An interesting "ideological compass chart" on his campaign web site shows him to be right down the middle of the road, politically speaking.
Overall, it's still a toss-up for me. The three candidates have very different backgrounds. I'd like to see the three candidates interact with each other in a debate format.
Kudos to Troutdale General Store owner Terry Smoke for staying past closing time while a bunch of politicians talked themselves out.