Slant 5-22-2014

• Will the status quo hold? Lots of nail gnawing as we watched the local election results Tuesday night. As we go to press Wednesday morning, incumbent Jay Bozievich is only 45 votes ahead of Dawn Lesley in the West Lane County commissioner race and Faye Stewart has only a 33 vote margin to avoid a November runoff with Kevin Matthews for the East Lane County commissioner race. More ballots are yet to be hand counted. If the Bozievich-Lesley contest gets any closer in the final count, it could trigger an automatic recount. A recount can also be requested, for a fee.

Lesley ran a strong, smart, energetic campaign against Bozievich and now has much more name recognition. Bozievich is a Tea Party conservative who has some loyal right-wing support, but he’s highly vulnerable. Bozievich only got about 7,400 votes this time, fewer than Jerry Rust got when those two faced off in the crowded 2010 primary. Bozievich out-campaigned Rust in the fall of 2010 and won the November runoff with 55.2 percent of the vote.

Stewart’s support has slipped significantly since 2010. He got 64.2 percent of the vote back in the 2010 primary when he had no serious challengers. This time he’s down to 50 percent and he’s lost about 3,500 votes. Incumbents with generations of name recognition are hard to unseat, but Stewart is carrying a lot of baggage, making him susceptible.

Meanwhile, Sid Leiken cruised to a fairly easy victory over his main challenger, Sheri Moore, in the Springfield commissioner race. Moore got a significant number of votes (34 percent) against an incumbent who has both money and name recognition. Leiken got 61.8 percent of the vote. He’s a popular, affable guy, but Springfield could use someone more dynamic and with fresh ideas on the County Commission.

Fern Ridge passed its school bond measure easily, but the Pleasant Hill bond measure is a squeaker, passing by only 19 votes as of Wednesday.

• Love wins! That’s what Oregon United for Marriage announced when U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane ruled on May 19 that Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. Did you see the big rainbow over the Willamette Valley that day? Clearly the Big Guy (or Gal) upstairs approves. And we loved seeing all our friends who had longed to get married head down to the county clerk’s office and make their loving unions legit in the eye of the state of Oregon. We already knew their love was legit, but sometimes it takes the state a while to catch up.

Credit goes not only to the judge but also the thousands of people who have been working on this issue for years, both in the public eye and behind the scenes, clarifying the arguments and speaking out on issues of fairness and justice. Our laws, good and bad, reflect our society’s view of the world, and that view is slowly changing when it comes to human rights. Kudos to the attorneys and their staff members who prepared this successful and historic case: Lake Perriguey, Lea Ann Easton, Robert Duehmig, William Griesar, Rose Saxe, Amanda Goad, Kevin Diaz, Misha Isaak, Tom Johnson and Jennifer Middleton. Their work makes it easier for other states to follow.

• A Lane County jury sentenced Robert Cromwell to life in prison this week for murdering his ex-girlfriend Casey Lynn Wright last November. The local news has been full of this murder trial and the UO rape investigation and it begs the question: What are we going to do to change our community for the better and bring an end to rape culture and intimate partner violence? 

• Historian Fredrik Logevall spoke at the UO Law School May 14 as part of the Wayne Morse Legacy Series and outlined his analysis of “The Meaning of the Vietnam War,” raising a few eyebrows and likely making some vets depressed about the future as we approach Memorial Day. We like to think we’ve evolved from the decades of foreign policy blunders that got us into Vietnam and kept us there until 58,220 Americans were killed along with an estimated three million Vietnamese, two-thirds of them civilians. 

What leads us to such bloody catastrophes? Logevall blames misguided ideology, public apathy, an unquestioning press, a “permissive context” in government and exaggerated promises of victory. Politicians and military leaders fear being perceived as weak or vacillating, even if they have serious misgivings, as JFK, LBJ and Nixon admitted in private conversations. It’s easier to go along than change course. The depressing part? Logevall sees a similar dynamic playing out in our more recent wars and occupations. If we haven’t learned by now, will we ever? Logevall had great praise for Wayne Morse and his courageous stand in the U.S. Senate against the war. Logevall’s new book is Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam.