Setting an Example

I’ve been the president of Oregon Roads, a leasing and finance company in Eugene, for 26 years. I’m married, have a son, daughter, daughter-in-law and a grandson. I have board-member and board-chair experience with corporations, nonprofits and municipal entities. I’ve been appointed to Eugene City Council committees and served on Lane Transit District’s steering committee. I volunteer my time as a habit. I believe that I have the qualifications to govern, so I humbly ask for your vote.

I understand that unseating an incumbent who has served ably is nearly impossible today. That has not stopped me because it is not my goal. I am attempting to set an example by doing something different than politics as usual. Of course, I’m setting an example hoping it starts a trend, and offer this brief explanation: Campaign finance reform is long overdue, and so is campaign practice reform.

Addressing campaign finance first, one congressional candidate told me that he must raise $11,000 a day to fund his campaign for re-election. I received an email from a local incumbent stating, “It takes as much as $40,000 to run a campaign even though I’m running unopposed.” This is absurd; it results in the election of the best fundraisers. Connections to money and power are corrupting. The individuals who might be our best candidates are eliminated from contention because that is not their interest or skill set. I believe there are many able citizens willing to participate in governing, but they are not willing to beg for financial support. Working people cannot afford the risks. The result? It is prohibitively expensive to participate in electoral politics.

Turning to campaign practices, notice our candidates abandon their families or, worse, exploit them for political gain. They build a virtual company with managers, handlers, statisticians and the omnipresent fundraisers. Next comes baby kissing, hand-shaking and stump speech making. Then we’ll get commercials, bulk mail, robo-calls and bumper stickers. American politics has been called a circus and a carnival.

Often, the people we select to elect are the best fundraisers and carnival barkers. That will continue until we redesign the selection process. I am seeking candidates who are unwilling to play these games yet willing to serve as my representatives.

We have been barraged by the spectacle of the presidential primaries this year. My first political campaign experience was as a student volunteer for the Robert F. Kennedy presidential campaign in 1968. Not much has changed. I have only been involved in political campaigns peripherally since then due to my lack of respect for the process. I believe that I stand with the majority of voters on this: alienated and disconnected from our own democracy.

No citizens, including corporate citizens, will spend a dime on my campaign. Filing for office has cost me $100 and that’s all that will be spent on this campaign. I seek no endorsements. Serving the constituents of the 4th district would be an honor and a privilege, and I am prepared to do so. It’s my duty as a citizen. Though I am prepared to serve, I am not prepared to run. I do not seek to become a member of the political class.

Instead, I estimate that I may spend as little as 2 to 25 cents per primary vote. Compare that to the average campaign budget and you’ll find I’ve the most efficient and cost-effective campaign.

We have elected officials with good intentions, and they find themselves trapped in this broken system too. I ask them to join me to help fix it.

I’d like to change the way we practice politics. This candidacy is my contribution. My vision? I’d like to see professors, common-sense parents and business managers elected to the offices now held by attorneys who dominate the political class. If you are the chief of a fire department, an ER nurse, contractor, researcher, accountant, grocer or engineer, you may make an excellent civil servant.

The ballot of the future looks brighter when good citizens feel welcome to put their names on it. Citizens, offer your service on your own terms. You do not need a manager, a fortune, endorsements or connections. When I see a qualified candidate who reflects my values, he or she will get my vote.

Thank you for considering my candidacy and please consider my encouragement to join me and throw your hat in the ring soon. — Joseph McKinney