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Slant 5-10-2012

If you haven’t already voted, chances are that ballot is still hanging out on your kitchen table or by the door, feeling neglected. It’s not a big ballot with a string of confusing measures — that comes in November. This ballot will only take a few minutes, but primaries are important in Oregon because in nonpartisan races, such as County Commission, City Council and EWEB, candidates getting more than 50 percent of the vote go on unopposed to the general election. The same holds true in the Oregon AG race since both candidates are Democrats. 

Last week was our election/endorsements issue and you can find a recap of our endorsements this week. We’ve made extra space for election letters this week and the leftovers can be found on our website. Let’s get those ballots in the mail, or drop them in one of the white boxes around town. Don’t forget to flip them over and mark your votes on the front and the back.

• The Rob Handy vs. Pat Farr race for County Commission has turned nasty. Last week we wrote about the “politics of personal destruction” regarding Commissioner Pete Sorenson, and the same disturbing dynamic is at work in the Handy-Farr contest, maybe even more so this week. We’ve written about the Lindholm Company push-polling that tried to discredit Handy with blatantly biased and misleading questions. Now the pro-Farr PAC is trying to smear Handy with potentially libelous allegations of sexual discrimination and other statements that are simply not true. Handy has not been accused of sexual discrimination against anyone, but you wouldn’t know that to read the latest mailer sent out by the PAC, with no meaningful comment from Farr (we asked). 

Farr’s campaign, including the latest and highly questionable accusations of ethical violations, is the sleaziest and most aggressive we’ve seen in a long time, and perhaps it’s an attempt to draw attention from his DUI arrest in 2006 when he blew .32 blood alcohol, four times the legal limit and approaching brain damage and death.

We can dismiss mud-slinging as “just politics as usual,” but it’s hard to ignore Farr’s positions and dismal voting record on the council. Handy gets consistently high marks from political groups, but Farr has earned a 20 percent rating from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, 36 percent from the Oregon Education Association, 38 percent from the American Federation of Teachers-Oregon and 38 percent from Oregonians for Immigration Reform.  Farr did get high rankings from the Associated Oregon Industries and Oregon National Federation of Independent Businesses (see VoteSmart.org). 

• A race we haven’t given much attention to is to fill the House District 12 seat being vacated by Rep. Terry Beyer. Former Springfield mayor John Lively, a household name in the district, is the likely shoo-in for this race, but his fellow Democrat in the primary, Sandra Mann, should not be ignored. Mann (not to be confused with Springfield council candidate Cj Mann) is a bilingual substitute teacher with a master’s degree and an extensive background in social services, workers’ compensation, education and political campaigns, mostly out of state. Mann has solid progressive ideas and positions but few people know her. We hope she follows Lively’s example and gets on some city or county committees or boards and gets to be better known in the district.

• Is Dwight Holton out to kill or gut the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act if he gets elected as Oregon’s AG? That appears to be the mindset of the pro-pot people who are campaigning for Ellen Rosenblum, but the accusation is just a pipe dream. As we reported April 26, Holton says he has no intention of “gutting” the OMMA, but he would like to see it improved. “We passed this law for very compassionate reasons,” he says. “We were trying to get relief to people who were in desperate need. That’s what the law’s about and I’ll enforce it and uphold it.” Meanwhile, bigger issues are being ignored, such as who is best qualified to run the AG’s office and push crime prevention and prosecution of environmental crimes. Rosenblum would be good; Holton would be better.