With presidential election drama swirling atop everyone’s mind, one could easily miss what’s happening down ballot, and who could blame them. But, some of these other races represent shifts in the local electoral landscape, and even Oregon’s statewide mindset. So, here’s the skinny, delivered quick.
Ranked choice voting was approved by Benton County voters in 2016, and the public tries it this year for the first time.
County Commissioner Position 2: We endorse Democratic nominee Xan Augerot as our first choice, and Pacific Green Progressive nominee Mike Beilstein as our second choice.
Augerot’s first term leads us to believe she’s earned a second. Both Beilstein’s and Augerot’s views can be described as progressive, and both are experienced electeds. Beilstein was an able City Councilor. But, if Augerot prevails this November, she becomes the county’s most experienced commissioner come January’s swearing in – and with the anticipated challenges of these next few years, we believe that experience will be useful.
During The Advocate debate, Republican opponent Tom Corider chided the current commissioners for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, then asserted the movement was an “instrument of violence and death with Marxist goals.” We believe these comments speak for themselves.
County Commissioner Position 3: We endorse Democratic nominee Nancy Wyse.
We were impressed with Wyse’s thoughtful statistic wielding take on the salient issues two years ago when she ran against Pat Malone for the Position 1 nomination. Malone won that year – yet Wyse has become even more studied and prepared since then. Now running for Position 3, Wyse is currently Vice President of the Corvallis City Council, where she’s serving her second term. She leans progressive, and is pragmatic and hardworking.
Wyse faces two opponents, Republican opponent John Sarna, and Libertarian Cody Serdar. In The Advocate debate, Wyse demonstrated a far fuller command of the issues than Sarna. Serdar declined to debate, and his candidate’s statement was quite general.
We believe Wyse will be able to hit the ground running on day one – that hasn’t been true of every newly elected commissioner . We continue to be impressed with her.
Corvallis City Council, Ward 7: We endorse incumbent Paul Schaffer.
The first term councilor is well liked among colleagues, and during The Advocate debate, one could see why. He takes a studied but straightforward approach, and is willing to evolve his thinking. For instance, in the special election that first brought him to the council, he posited that city government was too focused on housing, but this time around he says housing is one of the biggest issues facing the city – he then cited his rationale point-by-point.
Schaffer’s challenger is Nic Bowman, who in debate talked about wanting to be involved in community – and stated quite a bit of respect for the incumbent and his positions. In short, this is one of those races where we like both candidates, but ultimately believe that Schaffer is by far the best choice for Ward 7 and the city as a whole.
State & National Races
Secretary of State: We endorse Shemia Fagan (D).
Fagan’s values align more closely with the majority of Oregonians than those of the other candidates in this race. We’re impressed with her performance in the primary, where she won a narrow victory over two formidable fellow Democrats. Truth be told, we expected establishment Democrat Mark Hass to get the party nod. Fagan is from the more progressive side of her party, and looking at her primary win, we wonder if we’re looking at the future.
As no small aside, if the governor does not complete her term, the Secretary of State takes her place, which happened in 2015. It’s no secret that Kate Brown may be moving to Washington if Biden is elected.
Fagan’s only statistically significant opponent is Republican Kim Thatcher, and back in 2016, we endorsed Republican Dennis Richardson for this office. However, Thatcher’s voting record in Oregon’s senate has been decidedly against expanded healthcare funding and environmental protections. She also participated in the Republican walkout during the last legislative session.
Fagan has consistently voted to expand healthcare funding, and to enhance environmental protections.
State Treasurer: We endorse Tobias Read (D).
We don’t hear much about this office, and in the instance of a state treasurer, that’s probably a good thing, so we’re endorsing the incumbent. On a wonkier note, the sort of people who are money experts think he’s doing fine with the state’s investments, and that he’s doing better than his predecessor with lawmakers in Salem.
Attorney General: We endorse Ellen Rosenblum (D).
We dig Rosenblum’s record of fighting Trump administration overreach and big tech antitrust – plus she’s inserted watchdogs into her office to assure racial equity.
Her opponent is Republican Michael Cross, and he is not a lawyer – so we don’t even get how he’s a nominee, but he is. Cross is most notable for his unsuccessful campaign to recall Gov. Brown.
State Representative: We endorse Dan Rayfield (D).
Hardworking and friendly with opponents from prior races, Rayfield is a consistently solid choice for this seat. His opponent is not actively campaigning so far as we can tell.
Congress: We endorse Peter DeFazio (D).
This down-to-earth dude knows more about infrastructure than anyone should want to know – that’s a very good thing. Serving the 4th District for 30 years, DeFazio chairs the powerful Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure – which is actually sorta badass.
Senate: We endorse Jeff Merkley (D).
One of Oregon’s duo of damn good senators, Merkley chose against a run for president this year. If Biden wins, this dude will have some serious juice.
Merkley’s only challenger of note, Republican Jo Rae Perkins from Albany, is a candidate that doesn’t quite understand the concepts of childhood vaccinations, and land management, and facts – for instance, she’s a QAnon devotee.
President: Joe Biden (D), because… Choose as many as apply for you:
[ ] Do we have to explain this?
[ ] We don’t want democracy to end.
[ ] We do have half a brain.
[ ] Call us old fashioned, we like our presidents to be human.
[ ] We’re in it for the sunglasses.
[ ] The alternative is Donald Trump? Really?
Yes on Measure 107 – allows campaign contribution limits: This measure doesn’t limit campaign contributions, it amends Oregon’s constitution to allow limits. Voters could later decide on what the limits should be. Oregon is one of only five states without contribution limits.
Yes on Measure 108 – vape tax & tobacco tax increase: Oregon gets hit with $1.5 billion a year in tobacco related healthcare costs. This bill offsets about $165 million of that with a “sin“ tax increase. 90% would go to the Oregon Health Authority, which administers healthcare coverage for lower income Oregonians. The other 10% would go to cessation programs.
Cigarettes taxes would increase from $1.33 to $3.33 per pack, and vaping products would see a tax equaling 65% of their wholesale price.
Yes on Measure 109 – legalizes psilocybin therapy: We first acknowledge bad trips happen, and that the science isn’t complete yet. That all said, this measure requires patients be supervised at approved clinics while the psilocybin is active, and that they be screened beforehand. Proponents point to initially promising results using psilocybin to treat anxiety, depression and addiction.
The Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association and the American Psychiatric Association are against this measure. But, the current system for providing mental health care in Oregon has failed thousands. And, for something that’s been used in meditation by so many for so long, this seems like a fairly modest measure, most especially given the safeguards.
Iffy Yes on Measure 110 – decriminalizes personal drug possession: We think making criminals of people that need treatment is just plain wrong, but we also see that drug courts have often used eventual dismissal as a powerful lever to get people to reconsider their lives and sincerely embrace help.
This bill lacks clarity on what’s to be funded, leaving much of that up to a commission yet to be established by the Oregon Health Authority. And about that funding, it’s apparently aimed at treatment centers that will offer screenings, referrals, and case management, instead of actual treatment. Opponents also point out that the measure will change the way marijuana tax revenues are allocated, potentially diverting some dollars from K-12 education.
In the end, our Endorsement Board wished the particulars were better fleshed out, but we could not overcome our initial moral objection to criminalizing a health problem. Most especially, when a disproportionate number of the incarcerated in Oregon are of color.
This measure isn’t perfect, but we hope it will point lawmakers in the right direction.
Our Endorsement Board: Publisher Steve Schultz, Lead Associate Editor Sally Lehman, Associate Editor Cody Mann, Assistant Editor Cara Nixon, and Reporter Jada Krening.