Multnomah County voters will get the chance to decide whether they want to keep the county sheriff as an elected position or change it to an appointed role. They will also vote on whether or not individual campaign contributions should be limited for county races.
The Multnomah County Charter Review Committee voted Wednesday to add the two measures to the November ballot.
Committee members are appointed by state senators and representatives. They come together every six years to vote on potential amendments to the charter — Multnomah County’s “constitution.”
The vote for the sheriff’s position was heavily discussed by community and committee members alike. It ended with an almost split vote, passing with seven members in favor of adding the measure to the ballot, five opposed and one abstained.
The vote comes a few months after allegations of employee mismanagement pushed elected Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton to retire. Former Portland Police Chief Mike Reese is now serving as Staton’s interim replacement.
Another ballot measure added by the committee will be the option to limit campaign contributions for county races to $500 per person per cycle.
The campaign funding reform proposal was met with heavy discussion from community members, as many communicated that the measure would affect them personally.
Resident Noelle Brown said she would be interested in politics if the “playing field was level.”
“I work in banking right now, and already work in a very male-dominated situation, and work very hard to have my voice heard. And I feel like politics is even worse,” Brown said.
She said she believes campaign finance reform and contribution limits would help women and people of color feel like they have an equal chance in county politics.
County Commissioner Loretta Smith felt the opposite way and argued that imposing a limit on campaign contributions could cause a disparity for women and people of color.
“You’re going to make us work even harder,” Smith said.
Smith said Multnomah County voters elect women and people of color more than other counties in Oregon, and that large campaign contributions are needed to continue that trend.
The measure almost split the room of committee members as well, with seven ‘yes’ votes and six ‘no’ votes.
Both measures will be on Multnomah County’s general election ballot in November.