Voters recall water district commissioner in union-backed campaign


Residents of the Clackamas River Water (CRW) District voted overwhelmingly March 19 to recall Commissioner Patricia Holloway. The vote was 8,155 to 563.

Turnout in the special election was 28.4 percent. CRW serves about 51,400 homes in Clackamas County, primarily in Oregon City.

Thirty front-line employees of the water district are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 350. Following years of internal fighting, expensive lawsuits, and general dysfunction among the five-member volunteer Board of Commissioners, late last year union workers took a unanimous vote of “no confidence” in the entire board and called on all its members to resign. Two commissioners — Tami Kehoe and Barbara Kemper — did so. Holloway and Grafton Sterling did not. [In mid-July, Mike Cardwell, who had been a commissioner since 2001, resigned, leaving the board with a 2-2 split.]

Union officials pointed to Holloway and Sterling as instigators of most of the internal problems. Holloway has served on the board for seven years.

That prompted water district ratepayer Naomi Angier, a member of sister AFSCME Local 88, to file for an election to recall the two commissioners. She got support from the Northwest Oregon Labor Council and the Oregon AFL-CIO’s constituency group, Working America. Together, they collected more than 5,000 signatures for the recall petitions. A  clerical error, however, disqualified the Sterling petition.

Since then, three interim board members were appointed to the water district by the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners. They are Larry Sowa, a former county commissioner, Kenneth Humberston, and Hugh Kalani. They will serve until an election can be held.

The water board commissioners  will appoint someone to serve the last two years of Holloway’s term, as soon as the election is certified.


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