Our May 17 Election Endorsements

Last week, the Editorial Board sat down with the people who want Corvallis votes this coming May. You can watch them answer questions here. 

After due consideration, we’ve made our choices. Perhaps, you’ll agree. 

Benton County Commissioner 

We’re endorsing Helen Higgins for the Democratic primary. Even though incumbent Pat Malone may deserve another term, the county finds itself at a crossroads for which Higgins is better suited. Higgins is right that the county both needs new justice facilities, and that the current proposal needs a pause for further work, while Malone would like to stick with the current timeline. Malone articulates well on homeless services, but so does Higgins, and she adds impressive views about preventing houselessness in the first place.  

We will stipulate that Malone speaks for rural voters from lived experience, but conversely, Higgins actively seeks out voters that aren’t otherwise heard. In our questioning these candidates about the vociferousness of homeowners and other special interest groups, Malone expressed they’re a valued part of the process, which we’re fine with, but Higgins added her belief that decision makers need to seek out alternative voices – the ones that, in our view, are often quieter.  

Higgins knows how to meet challenges in a resource constrained environment; her success leading the nonprofit Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis these last 15 years makes that obvious. For Democrats, she is a formidable choice.  

Whoever wins this primary will face the unopposed Republican nominee in November’s general election, Bill Currier. 

Benton County Measure 2-136 

We’re saying Yes on renewing the current Corvallis Public Schools Tax another five years. It’s the same added property tax we’ve been paying for years which amounts to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value. In short, your taxes won’t go up from what they are now. This optional tax levy reduces class sizes, adds counseling and instructional services, and helps pay for art, music and physical education.  

Benton County Measure 22-190 

We’re saying Yes on this $16 million bond measure. It adds a Linn-Benton Community College agricultural job training center, and funds various other facility updates and repairs – possibly most importantly the child care center. This one will add a little to your property taxes, seven cents for each $1,000 of assessed value, and that rate will go up a little if interest rates increase. The bond matures in 15 years. In our view, it’s a good deal for the community, and here’s the sweetener: If it passes, the state forks over $8 million in matching funds that wouldn’t otherwise be received.  

Congressional District 4 

We endorse Doyle Canning for the Democratic nod this primary. Of the most viable Democratic candidates, Canning best represents our aspirations for prioritizing the climate crisis, and taking on increasingly unbridled monopolies, most especially in the tech sector. She is unapologetically uncompromising on both counts, and we think that’s what is called for right now. 

We also have a favorable opinion of Val Hoyle. Hoyle is probably a surer bet for the general election, and of all the candidates, she is, right now, the most prepared to ably navigate a new congressional role from day one. Hoyle currently serves as Oregon’s Labor Commissioner, and before that, she was a highly effective Oregon House Speaker. Of the seven candidates for this nomination, she and fellow primary candidate Andrew Kalloch made the best cases to us for how they would be effective in a majority Republican congress – the difference being that Hoyle has actually served in an evenly split legislature.  

This all said, we think Canning is still a safe bet for Democrats come November, and we think she’ll gain her congressional footing fast as all get-out.  

But, mainly, our affinity for Canning comes down to this: more than any other candidate, she has demonstrated not only a clear command of the issues, but also the solutions. Quite possibly this has to do with two decades of studying those issues on a grassroots level, and of working directly with people who are disenfranchised by those issues.  

Our guess is that, outside of either Canning or Hoyle, the other five candidates, while compelling, are more of a risk for Democrats in this district. 

On the Republican side, Alek Skarlatos is unopposed for the nomination of his party. 

Oregon Labor Commissioner 

We’re endorsing Christina Stephenson, a Portland civil rights and employment lawyer. We’re in good company on this one, she has the bipartisan backing of the last five labor commissioners and most of the state’s labor advocacy groups. Notably, her advocacy helped make the Workplace Fairness Act happen back in 2019. In short, Stephenson is easily the most qualified candidate in this field. 

Governor 

Tina Kotek gets difficult things done, and she has our endorsement in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. The former Oregon House Speaker has moved major school funding that Democrats had been seeking for years, and she told some of her biggest supporters, public employees, they’d have to make some concessions to get the deal done. Basically, she’s gutsy, smart, and wickedly effective. Brown may have pissed off Republicans, but Kotek will send them into shock. 

Speaking of Republicans, we reckon your best bet for 2022 is Christine Drazan. The former Oregon House minority leader has sometimes won concessions in the Democratic body – she has a reputation for efficacy in Salem, even as others in her party do not. Pro-life, she’s also opposed climate legislation. Republicans haven’t had this good a chance of winning Oregon’s top office for years, and Drazan would be a formidable nominee. 

Senate 

Incumbent Ron Wyden is our pick for the office, full stop. He’s well respected in both parties, and often sees the issues years before anyone else does.