Will embattled Clackamas County Commissioner Mark Shull survive the May primary?

Clackamas County Commissioner Mark Shull’s days as an elected official might be numbered.

Since he posted racist, transphobic, Islamophobic and anti-immigrant views to social media, Shull has been under threat of recall, encouraged to resign by fellow commissioners and striped of his committee assignments.

State records, which show Shull has collected no campaign contributions since 2020, confirm that he will be spending little money to combat his opponents’ narrative in his upcoming reelection campaign.

North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce officials were taken aback that Shull admitted to not particularly liking being on the county commission. Chamber officials said he failed to offer solutions at the county level for the housing affordability problem, blaming state land-use policies instead.

“One thing that surprised the committee is that he doesn’t plan to raise money or campaign and admits he doesn’t particularly like being on the commission,” chamber officials wrote.

Shull complained that the chamber’s endorsement comments made him sound “lackadaisical.” He claimed that he’s not fundraising as part of his effort “fighting the corruption in campaign finance.” He doubled down on blaming state land-use policies, saying that the chamber should have mentioned specific policies affecting housing affordability such as urban growth boundaries.

In unanimously deciding in March to endorse one of Shull’s opponents, chamber board members wrote that they’d “rather see someone enthusiastic about the position take the seat.” In a response to Pamplin Media Group, Shull wrote “that’s not what I said” and initially declined to elaborate on what he thought that he actually told chamber officials.

Later Shull sent Pamplin Media Group a summary of how he “honestly” responded to the chamber’s question, “How has the last few years been as a commissioner?”

“It has not been the most enjoyable job I have had, but I am the most driven, hard-working commissioner on the board. I don’t have to be gleeful to be competent. My enthusiasm for the job is reflected in competent, dedicated work,” he said.

In place of Shull, chamber members are supporting Tina Irvine, calling her a “genuine moderate with a solid business and nonprofit background.”

“Her list of positions on foundations, boards and nonprofits is truly staggering and informs her well-researched positions on county and chamber priorities. She is motivated to run by what she described as a ‘lack of engagement’ from commissioners when her foundation work had business before them,” chamber officials wrote of Irvine.

Shull will face two other candidates in the May 21 primary election, both Democrats. Melissa Fireside impressed chamber officials with “her understanding of health and human service policy,” while Rae Gordon’s “greatest asset is her genuine good nature,” they wrote. If none of the four candidates get at least 50% of the vote, then the top two vote-getters will advance to the November election.

In a separate county commission race, chamber officials endorsed reelection for Commissioner Martha Schrader, saying she has “served Clackamas County for the better part of two decades and remains at the top of our list of most well-respected elected officials. Schrader’s long tenure has not left her complacent. She recently completed tours of day care facilities to map coverage deserts and cited problematic gaps in workforce training leading to poor ambulance staffing numbers. Her top priorities are aligned with the chamber in opposing tolling, reforming Measure 110 and supporting first responders. We appreciate Schrader’s consistently gracious demeanor and commitment to her constituents, especially in her tireless advocacy for veterans.”

In the race for county board chair, chamber officials decided not to offer an endorsement, saying that Tootie Smith’s successes were overshadowed by her “abrasive leadership style.” Smith’s opponent, former Sheriff Craig Roberts, was recognized by the chamber as a “public safety savant with a track record of cleaning up the sheriff’s office.”

Chamber officials also declined to make an endorsement in the race for Clackamas County sheriff, saying that Sheriff Angela Brandenburg and challenger and Lynn Schoenfeld possess completely different skillsets, so neither particularly stands out as the better option.

This news article online was updated on March 14 with additional comments from Shull and the chamber.

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