Oregon City, September 9, 2021
Elections official and voter-focused public servant Catherine McMullen (West Linn) was the first to file for the office of Clackamas County Clerk Thursday morning at the county elections office in Oregon City. McMullen was cheered on by a small group of friends, supporters, and voters.
The position is slated to be on the ballot for the May 2022 Primary Election. The Clackamas County Clerk is a nonpartisan office with a critical role in protecting democracy and making local government accessible. The County Clerk is a vital link between citizens and their local government.
“Today is a big day, not just for the campaign, but for furthering democracy in Clackamas County. After much consideration, I made the final decision to run for office and announced in July; today on filing day we dig into the work of improving the way all future elections will be conducted in Clackamas County,” McMullen said. “It is time for new leadership in the County Clerk’s office. It is time for safe, secure, and transparent elections processes. It is time for inclusive and equitable voter education and for all eligible Clackamas County citizens to have access to the ballot.” To date, McMullen’s committee Voices for Catherine McMullen has raised more than $10,000 in contributions from more than 140 supporters.
A former public librarian turned elections administrator, McMullen shifted her focus from books to ballots six years ago. Most recently she is working with the Multnomah County Elections Department. Through her experiences as a citizen, community leader, and voter in Clackamas County, she identified a need for more competence, transparency, and responsiveness in local elections. Over the last decade elections administration has become a professional occupation needing technological expertise, modern public administration approaches, community awareness, and engagement with each county resident. McMullen is the innovative and qualified elections administrator that Clackamas County needs to move forward in this changing environment.
Dedicated Oregonian, Experienced Public Servant, and Family Advocate
McMullen earned an Executive Master in Public Administration (EMPA) from the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University (2019). She also recently received certification (2021) from the Oregon Association of County Clerks (OACC) as a Certified Elections Administrator (CEA). Her earlier education includes a BA in Comparative Literature (Spanish/English) from the University of California Davis and a Master in Library and Information Science (MLIS) from University of Washington.
McMullen and her husband, Michael Barton, met, married and started their family in Bozeman, MT. In 2011, McMullen joined the Canby Public Library as a project librarian to create and improve library services to Spanish-speaking families. She built lasting relationships with community leaders and non-profits; revitalized multilingual book collections; and developed culturally specific programing such as Día del Niño, Día del Libro. In 2015, McMullen seized the opportunity to create the first Voter Education and Outreach Program in the state.
The family has two children. Patrick was born in 2006 and Afton in 2012. In 2016 Afton had brain surgery at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital for treatment of epilepsy. As she grew Afton’s unique brain function became more understood, and at seven years old she was diagnosed with autism. Through this journey with her daughter, McMullen learned to navigate school and health systems as a parent of a child with disabilities. Both children are students in West Linn and Afton receives the accommodation she needs. McMullen, in advocating for her autistic daughter, has become a better advocate for the rights of everyone in a community.
Voter-focused Election Administrator
In 2015 Catherine McMullen changed careers to create, develop, and lead the new Voter Education and Outreach (VEO) Program as part of Multnomah County Elections. Work started with surveys, targeted outreach, demographic research, and building relationships with community leaders. Despite early challenges, McMullen implemented steps to reach the universal goal of every eligible voter being able to vote without barriers. Direct outcomes include increased language access to voting for non-English speaking residents, improved widespread communication around services for voters with disabilities, and the design, planning, and implementation of a satellite voter service center in the eastern part of the county. Through the program McMullen was able to move the elections office from a ballot-focused to a voter-focused service delivery model.
In 2019, upon completion of the EMPA at Portland State University, McMullen was appointed the Lake County (CA) Registrar of Voters. She served as the head elections official for the county navigating local and gubernatorial recall processes, hiring staff, upgrading technology, managing county-wide power outages, installing the new Hart Intercivic voting system, and conducting a fall special district election. Later she became the Good Governance Administrator for the City of Sacramento Clerk’s Office. There she facilitated ethics commission activities, determined ethics violations investigation procedures, and recruited for a new city redistricting commission. As the pandemic unfolded, McMullen pivoted recruitment to an online effort and was able to successfully recruit a diverse and qualified applicant pool.
The pandemic clarified priorities for McMullen and her family. In June 2020, she returned home to Oregon, settled in West Linn, and returned to work with Oregon elections in Multnomah County. There McMullen conducted three elections during the pandemic and was recognized by her peers with a county-wide award for her work in voter education, outreach, and communication to voters during the November 2020 Election. McMullen’s most recent voter engagement effort Clackamas Voice focuses on the community she lives in and has a primary goal of eliminating barriers to voter access and education, increasing transparency in elections, and bringing more diverse voices to local-decision making in Clackamas County.
What issues will Catherine McMullen address?
Equitable and Fair Access to the Ballot. McMullen will prioritize voter education and participation for all eligible voters in the county. She will increase engagement in local elections by focusing resources on historically ignored voters; including young voters; voters with disabilities; Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other voters of color; voters in rural communities; voters registered through the automatic voter registration; and voters facing housing insecurity or economic uncertainty.
Safe, Secure, and Transparent Election Administration. McMullen will ensure the equal processing of each ballot so that every vote is counted accurately. She will address ballot chain of custody concerns adding needed security and transparency to elections administration.
Empower Diverse Voices in Local Decision-Making. McMullen will work with community stakeholders to empower the many communities that make up the rich diversity found in Clackamas County. She will ensure easy access to public records, put in place sound records management practices, and encourage public participation with voter and candidate resources.
Officiate Weddings. McMullen will ensure her office processes passport applications and issues marriage licenses without personal judgement or regard to race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or age. She will prioritize officiating weddings for all residents, including same sex and queer couples.
Catherine McMullen is running for County Clerk to ensure that all communities in Clackamas County have a voice in local decision-making, have access to the ballot, and can participate in local government. While both an experienced elections administrator and long time public servant, McMullen is a first time candidate for office. When not out in the community you can find her working from the public library moving the campaign forward one step at a time. She is taking this critical step of running for County Clerk so that everyone in Clackamas County will have a voice. How will you use your voice?