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Clackamas County Light Rail Approval Question (September 2012)

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A Clackamas County Light Rail Approval Question was on the September 18, 2012 ballot in Clackamas County.

This measure seeks to provide for law requiring that any decision on light rail in the county would have to be approved by public vote. This measure was brought to the ballot through a successful petition drive by residents, who obtained 9,728 valid signatures when 9,378 were needed. It was approved.

An opinion released by county attorneys stated that even if this measure were to be approved, it would not affect the Portland-Milwaukie light rail project, which is already underway. The attorney gave the opinion that the measure would just be relevant to future projects only and could not be applied to those already in development. Though this is just an opinion, the measure may still be challenged in court.[1]

Election results

Light Rail Approval Question
Approveda Yes 51,111 60.2%

Election Results from: Clackamas County, Oregon Elections, Election Resullts

Text of measure

The Question:

Shall use of county resources for financing, design, construction, or operation of any public rail transit system require voter approval?[2][3]


Proponents of the measure want to allow for voter approval of the TriMet project which would contribute $1.5 billion to the Portland-Milwaukie light rail project. Proponents did not think it fair for the county to invest so much money without voter approval first.[4]

The Clackamas County Sheriff, Craig Roberts, has given his support behind this measure stating that with such a large project needing so much funding, other programs and services in the county could lose out on funding. Roberts also stated that it is important to get public input on such large projects, even if it does not make a difference with the current TriMet program, future projects as large should receive voter input.[5]


County and TriMet officials have argued against the main argument of proponents, that this measure would halt the county's contribution to the TriMet program. Both groups have stated that they have already promised the money to the project so even if this measure were to be approved it would only be binding towards future light rail projects in the county and not current projects.[4]

The Clackamas County Democrats issued a statement that gave their opposition to this measure, stating that if approved it would raise county taxes. The statement made note that if a vote must be made for every time the county wants to approve a large project then there would be more elections and more cost to voters. But this statement was proved false by Politifact Oregon, explaining that elections do not raise county taxes and are nearly free when held on primary or general election dates. If a issue is voted on during a special election, there is an added cost but it does not come from raised county taxes.[6]

Light rail

Additional reading