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Soil & Water Conservation Districts in need of Board of Directors Members

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Five Soil & Water Conservation Districts Announce Board of Directors Election Opportunity
Portland, Oregon, May 23, 2024 —Five Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) across four counties are excited to announce an opportunity for community members to actively participate in shaping the future of environmental stewardship in Oregon. Building on these Districts’ commitment to community engagement, West Multnomah, East Multnomah, Marion, Clackamas, and Upper Willamette Soil and Water Conservation Districts are inviting individuals to run for positions on their Board of Directors in the upcoming November 2024 election, and kicking off election season with a joint information session on June 13.
In a historic move to expand representation and amplify community voices, 2023’s Senate Bill 775 (amending ORS 568.545, 568.560, and 568.565) now states that in any county with 250,000 or more residents, any registered voter living in a conservation district zone can now run for board positions. They may run for at-large seats or in the geographical zone they reside in. This currently affects five counties—Clackamas, Lane, Marion, Multnomah, and Washington-- and the seven conservation districts within them. Previously, for the zoned positions on our boards, you had to own or manage 10 acres of land. The decision to open board positions to a wider constituency of community members reflects a dedication to fostering a more inclusive and diverse leadership structure that better reflects the communities they serve. This opens up each of these boards to tens or even hundreds of thousands more residents being able to run. All candidates must still collect signatures and file paperwork with the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture in order to appear on the ballot in November.
"This is a pivotal moment for these Districts," said Terri Preeg Riggsby, at-large director and board chair at West Multnomah SWCD. "By welcoming more community members to join our Board of Directors, we are embracing new perspectives, talents, and ideas that will strengthen our organization and enhance our ability to address pressing environmental and agricultural challenges."
The opportunity to run for a position on each SWCD Board of Directors is open to all residents within the District's boundaries who are passionate about farms and forests conservation, habitat restoration, and community empowerment. Candidates from diverse backgrounds and experiences are encouraged to step forward and contribute their unique insights to the District's work.
Individuals interested in running for a position on these Boards of Directors are encouraged to visit their District's websites, below, for more information on eligibility criteria, application procedures, and important deadlines. The Districts are also holding a joint information session, to take place on Zoom at 6pm PST on June 13. In this session, community members across these five counties will learn basics of what a soil and water conservation board member or district director does, what qualifications are needed, and what steps candidates need to take to get on the ballot and get elected. Hear from a Director who recently began her service and some who have served for many years.
The election will take place in November 2024, providing community members an opportunity to play a direct role in guiding the strategic direction of SWCD and advancing conservation efforts in the region