Clackamas County Chairman John Ludlow
Portland, Oregon, may be known in the national consciousness as a frivolous paradise of banjos, naked bike rides, and fair-trade coffee. But its suburban commuter communities have nourished a resentful Republican movement that’s dead serious about stopping what they call “Portland creep.”
The face of this anti-Portland movement is John Ludlow, a brawny real estate broker with a shaved head that suggests Lex Luthor as a high-school sports coach. His bid for Clackamas County chair was funded by a timber magnate and propelled by a populist revolt against light rail. Once elected, he set about trying to break contracts the county had signed years earlier to extend rail lines south from Portland.
But it’s his demeanor in Clackamas — a largely rural county of 380,000 that’s becoming more Stepford all the time — that’s been the most embarrassing. In a planning meeting last summer, he yelled, “Do you want a piece of me?” at a fellow commissioner.
You can’t say voters weren’t warned. When he ran for county chair in 2012, lawn signs went up that declared, “John Ludlow is a bully.” Ludlow had previously been removed from the planning commissioner in Wilsonville, where he served as mayor, for what one city councilor called “rude, combative, argumentative, and disrespectful” behavior toward the public. Ludlow sued, and in 2003 a judge restored him to his position, ruling his objectionable ways were actually protected speech.
A personnel complaint filed by the county’s lobbyist in April claims that, when news broke about the Boston Marathon bombing, Ludlow declared it was likely the work of “a damn A-rab.” Speculating about suspects in a local shooting, he allegedly said, “I bet they were Mexicans.”
And when a former county board member, Ann Lininger, won appointment to an open state legislative seat this year, Ludlow said she succeeded because “she does a good job of sticking out her perky titties in people’s faces.”
Ludlow apologized for his statements while denying making the comments about the state legislator’s breasts. An investigator cleared Ludlow of violating any county rules — but added that, when it came to the “perky titties” comment, Ludlow’s denial was probably a lie.
— Aaron Mesh, Willamette Week