Editorial: Bryce Cleary is Bad Medicine for Corvallis Schools

There are nine candidates in this year’s School Board race, but the one to watch is cynical scalpel in lilting warm-guy clothing, Bryce Cleary. He defines a new low in Corvallis politics. A physician by trade, he’s branded himself as ‘Doc’ for this race, and is largely running on a platform of being an M.D.  – which is grossly entitled if you think about it.  

But then maybe we’re oversimplifying 

Cleary’s voters pamphlet statement and social media are replete with conservative dog whistles, which is of course his right, but then there are also the intentionally outrage inducing political tropes he uses to ensnare the unsuspecting and much of it, beyond being cynical, is straight-up dishonest. 

In the pamphlet, Cleary writes “Our children are suffering unprecedented levels of depression, anxiety, and isolation. As a physician, I have seen far too much of this first hand.”  

Of course, the good doctor knows the School Board isn’t responsible for a worldwide pandemic, CDC guidelines, or State of Oregon orders, but he knows that some readers will forget about that just long enough to move into a fear-induced outrage.  

He doesn’t stop there. While he’s got you good and emotional, he artfully alludes to the current board being corrupt without calling them such, writing,So what has our School Board been doing? Pushing political agendas and furthering their personal aspirations. This has got to stop.” 

Well, dear doctor, after years of covering these folks, we’ll tell you that we suspect you’re trying to sell salve for an imaginary disease, and worse yet, you think Corvallis voters are dumb enough to buy it.  

At least pretend to respect the electorate, and don’t write things like “I am not seeking political office,” when that is, in fact, what you are doing. Or, there is our favorite display of a dog whistle, Our School Board has been slow to act and will be quick to panic. There’s no evidence of either. 

Cleary just keeps going. In a paranoid rant on Facebook, he claims that school reopenings have been timed for when ballots go out. Never mind these phased reopenings have been planned for months, by school administrators and the Governor, not board members. And Cleary either knows this, or should.  

His constant invective to follow the science plays to his drumbeating “I’m an M.D. status into local brains, but does he know what he’s talking about? He’s advertised as a family physician, not an epidemiologist. What Cleary cynically counts on is that he‘ll stoke enough outrage that you’ll forget you don’t see a proctologist for brain surgery. 

Maybe, you’re thinking we as journalists have no place challenging the affable good Doc, because hell, we’re just a bunch of scoundrel journalist types. Surveys tell us, people trust physicians more than they trust journalists, but should they?  

Let’s remember Governor Kate Brown had to take over after the last Governor, a physician named Kitzhaber, left amid an ethics probe he would eventually pay $20,000 in fines for his wrongdoing. 

This paper has sometimes endorsed conservatives for School Board, and for voters that really need to vote conservative, Tim Euhus and Rich Arnold are good choices, even if we’re endorsing otherwise this cycle.  

But for Position 1, if you cannot bring yourself to vote for our endorsee, Sami Al-AbdRabbuh, please consider abstention or a write-in, because what Cleary may ultimately be banking on is that he can throw red meat at the base, and they’ll gnaw on it. And, if you’re a real conservative, we think you’re better than that. 

Cleary is not the standard bearer any constituency should want.