The Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) was first organized in 1906 by a group of county judges interested in providing a forum for information sharing and consensus development. By 1936, the membership had perceived a need for greater representation in the state legislature and more attention to the growing activities of AOC. As a result, Judge F.L. Phipps of Wasco County (then immediate past president of AOC) was employed as part-time executive secretary, a position he held for 22 years. Upon Judge Phipps’ retirement, the AOC office was moved from The Dalles to Salem, and Kenneth C. Tollenaar was hired as the first full-time executive secretary. Since then, the position has been changed to executive director, and three individuals have held that post. AOC’s current executive director is Mike McArthur.
During the years, the role of county government has taken on increasing importance in service to Oregonians. Counties and the State government have developed an interconnected relationship of providing essential services and sharing various revenue sources. As such, AOC is an advocate for county government and county officials in their relationships with the Oregon Legislature and state agencies. AOC also works in concert with the National Association of Counties (NACo) to advocate on behalf of counties with Congress and federal agencies. Today, in addition to this representation with the state and federal government, AOC provides an information clearinghouse, technical assistance, research, publications, training, conferences and workshops, and other services to county officials and the citizens of Oregon.
All 36 of Oregon’s counties are members of AOC. AOC’s activities are directed by a Board of Directors composed of elected and appointed officials. The president, first vice president, second vice president and treasurer are elected at the AOC business meeting, which is part of the annual conference held in November. AOC is administered by the executive director, who has responsibility for all personnel matters and who reports directly to the board of directors.
For the purpose of regional representation, AOC's bylaws groups Oregon’s 36 counties into eight geographic regions.
District 1: Baker, Grant, Malheur, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa
District 2: Crook, Deschutes, Harney, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake
District 3: Gilliam, Hood River, Morrow, Sherman, Wasco, Wheeler
District 4: Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine
District 5: Benton, Lane, Linn
District 6: Marion, Polk, Yamhill
District 7: Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, Tillamook
District 8: Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington
Member counties of each district biennially elect a district chair to preside at district meetings and to represent the district on AOC's board of directors and legislative committee.
AOC Steering Committees
AOC steering committees meet frequently to review county issues and make policy or legislative recommendations to the legislative committee. Committee chairs are chosen by the AOC president and board of directors. Steering committee membership is open to AOC members and representatives from appropriate affiliate groups. AOC has nine steering committees.
- Community Development
- Environment & Energy
- Human Services
- Public Lands & Natural Resources
- Public Safety
- Water Policy
County Road Program
The County Road Program (CRP) was established in 1990 as a cooperative program with the Oregon Association of County Engineers and Surveyors (OACES). Its purpose is to improve county road capabilities through the development of management programs and shared technical assistance.
Local Government Center
In 1972, AOC, The League of Oregon Cities and the Oregon School Boards Association purchased property near the state capitol at 12th and Court streets and built the first "Local Government Center" In the United States. In 1996 the three organizations constructed the present four-story building at the same site to improve the opportunity to cost-share meeting rooms and equipment and to better accommodate the expanding level of service for members of the three organizations.