EW's May 2016 primary election endorsements

When we opened up our Voters Pamphlets and saw Donald Trump’s mugshot, it felt a bit surreal. So this is what democracy looks like? The 2016 election from the local to the national is either amazing or crazy or both, depending on your perspective and political leanings.

Bernie Sanders fired people up on the Dem side. And Trump has started a less pleasant conflagration on the right. EW’s endorsements in the May 2016 primary stick to the Democratic and nonpartisan races — it would be a bit hypocritical for this liberal-leaning paper to endorse in the Republican races.

The other races we are obviously not endorsing in are the uncontested races. It’s a pity that there are so many candidates in races — on the local level in particular — that are unopposed. With issues such as homelessness, sprawl and development so hot right now in Eugene, we’d love to see more people get involved in public office.

On the other hand the mayor’s race and Ward 1 (downtown) in particular have drawn enthusiastic slates of candidates and ensured that topics such as the South Willamette Special Area Zone and Kesey Square have gotten the attention they deserve. We hope some of these candidates continue to seek office and stay involved in local politics.


Bernie Sanders. Photo by Gage Skidmore / Wikicommons


Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton

Like our Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, we endorse Bernie Sanders for president. Sanders has changed the discourse in the Democratic primary. In his own fierce way, always saying “we” not “I,” he has challenged campaign financing and demonstrated that it can be different, $27 at a time. He has called for single-payer health care, public financing of some elements of public higher education, an end to trade deals that hurt American workers, major changes in taxation and regulation to start bringing back America’s middle class as well as an even-handed approach to Israel. Those are gutsy positions. He will most likely lose the nomination to Hillary Clinton, whom we will then support, but Bernie Sanders has started a movement across this country and we are with him. Sanders should stay in all the way to the convention this summer in Philadelphia, no matter what the delegate gap.

photo by gage skidmore / wikicommons

U.S. Senator 

Ron Wyden vs. Paul Weaver vs. Kevin Stine

Sen. Ron Wyden is sure to win the primary and go on to beat Faye Stewart in November.

U.S. Representative District 4 

Peter DeFazio vs. Joseph McKinney

A little competition livens things up a bit, but Rep. Peter DeFazio keeps Congress pretty lively all on his own.


Note: Unopposed candidates move on to the November election


Kate Brown vs. Julian Bell vs.

Chet Chance vs. Kevin Forsythe vs.

Dave Stauffer vs. Steve Johnson

We haven’t quite forgiven Kate Brown for signing off on the legislative bill blocking the legal review of gray wolf protections, but Brown has had a good track record in the past on education and equity, and we’d like to keep her around.

Val Hoyle. Photo by Todd Cooper

Secretary of State 

Val Hoyle vs. Richard Devlin vs. Brad Avakian

We have three strong Democratic candidates here. We like them all. State Senator Richard Devlin from Tualatin really is a numbers whiz, currently chair of the Oregon Legislature’s joint Ways and Means Committee, which writes the state budget. He is so valuable, and legislative leadership is so weak, that Oregon needs Devlin to stay there for now. Brad Avakian, labor commissioner and former legislator and trial lawyer, is an activist progressive who wants to greatly expand the secretary of state’s role (an expansion which is in dispute, according to a recent story in Willamette Week).

Avakian is likely to persist in going for higher office, no matter the outcome of this race, and we wish him the best as his energy and pro-environment ideas are much needed in higher office in this state.

Val Hoyle, legislator from Junction City and west Eugene for the past six years, worked her way to House majority leader and a strong endorsement from Tina Kotek, speaker of the House. Hoyle comes from a strong labor background and is willing to work extremely hard on the details that matter to bring about positive change. She has not been as good on the environment as we would like, but she says she could not be too far ahead of her district. If she wins this election, as one of three members of the State Land Board with power over state lands and forests, she will have her chance to advocate for the environment.

It’s important to put some non-Portlanders into top offices running this state, and Hoyle is one of the few out there. She also has the advantage of experience representing a partly rural district, including Junction City and west Eugene, and we need that in top levels of state government. Val Hoyle will listen and is persuadable. She doesn’t pretend to know it all. Our local candidate wins our vote.

State Treasurer 

Tobias Read unopposed

Attorney General 

Ellen Rosenblum unopposed

State Senator

5th District: Arnie Roblan unopposed

State Representative

House District 7:

Vincent Portulano (D)

Fergus McLean (I)

House District 8 

Paul Holvey unopposed

House District 11 

Phil Barnhart unopposed

House District 12 

John Lively unopposed

House District 13 

Nancy Nathanson unopposed

Julie Fahey and James Manning. Photos by Todd Cooper

House District 14 

Julie Fahey vs. James Manning

EW is going to go for a rare dual endorsement here in this largely rural district. You can’t make a bad choice with these two excellent candidates in the race to replace Val Hoyle in the Legislature (Hoyle is running for secretary of state). Manning is strong on education, a women’s right to choose, ending racial profiling, minimum-wage issues and health care. He’s stepping down as EWEB commissioner and has a good track record working with schools and serving on the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs. He brings political experience to the table. Meanwhile Fahey is also solid on issues that affect working families, and she says she will be an advocate for the environment — an area where Hoyle has been weak and an issue that needs more supporters in the Oregon Legislature.

Lane County 


Byron Trapp unopposed

Judge of Supreme Court, 

Judge of Court of Appeals, 

Judge of the Circuit Court

All positions are unopposed

North Eugene Commissioner

Tony McCown vs. Pat Farr

The Lane County Commission voted 4-1, with Pete Sorenson as the lone “No” vote. That’s the refrain time and time again when it comes to the environment, land use and issues progressives care about in Lane County. The Board of Commissioners has control over key issues: how gravel mines operate, rural land use, the county jail, clean water and more. If you care about the environment, small business and those in need like we do, then you want more candidates who care about those issues, too. The County Commission tends to lean to the right, like other county commissions nationwide, and Farr has not impressed us with his votes during his tenure. We are going to go with McCown as a strong choice to join Sorenson on votes on issues that can affect urban sprawl, land use and how this county spends its limited funds.

South Eugene Commissioner 

Pete Sorenson unopposed

Justice of the Peace

Rick Brissenden vs. Guy Rosenbaum vs. Woody Woodbury vs. Joshua Rogers

Springfield Mayor 

Christine Lundberg vs. Robert Drake

Emily Semple. Photo by Todd Cooper

Eugene City Council Ward 1

Emily Semple vs. Chris Wig vs. Josh Skov vs. Chad Anderson vs. Kelly Boyd

Unlike the plethora of unopposed positions on the city and county level, we’re delighted that the downtown area has attracted a variety of candidates. We’re going with Emily Semple, endorsed by George Brown, who is leaving the Ward 1 position, and Betty Taylor, a longtime progressive voice on the council, as well as former councilors Bonny (Bettman) McCornack and David Kelly. Josh Skov presents excellent environment credentials; Chris Wig has a strong labor background and political organizing experience. Semple, however, represents the heart and spirit of what makes downtown Eugene unique and the passion on issues such as the unhoused, transportation and land use that Brown represented during his tenure.

Eugene City Council Ward 2

Betty Taylor unopposed

Eugene City Council Ward 7

Claire Syrett unopposed

Eugene City Council Ward 8

Chris Pryor unopposed

Springfield City Council Ward 3 

Sheri Moore vs. Sean Dunn vs. Kris McAlister

We liked Sheri Moore when she ran for County Commission in 2014, and we still like her. Her opposition has said they provide a younger voice. We are all for younger voices, but we like the wisdom of age, too.

Springfield City Council Ward 4 

Leonard Stoehr vs. Dave Ralston

Dave Ralston has insulted minorities and gotten in hot water for drunk driving and wildlife violations. Leonard Stoehr is new to politics, but we like his strong labor credentials.

Springfield City Council Ward 6 

Joe Pishioneri unopposed

Lucy Vinis. Photo by Todd Cooper

Eugene Mayor 

Lucy Vinis vs. Bob Cassidy vs.  Mike Clark vs. Scott Landfield vs. Stefan Strek

Mayor Kitty Piercy’s 12 years in office have come to an end. Of the five candidates for mayor, the best match for Eugene and its left-leaning ideals is Lucy Vinis. Of the other candidates, we have Stefan Strek, whose enthusiasm is enjoyable, but his campaign seems disjointed and inconsistent. We like Bob Cassidy’s message of social and economic equality, as well as Scott Landfield’s outsider campaign (for which he is accepting no money) calling attention to issues such as the future of Kesey Square.

But among those four candidates, all with limited political experience, Vinis and her background in environmental and social causes would serve Eugene the best. Having worked for ShelterCare, a nonprofit that assists individuals and families in crisis, Vinis understands the complexities surrounding homelessness. Eugene needs informed leadership and a voice of advocacy to tackle this important and multifaceted issue as we move forward.

Vinis also takes a strong stance on preserving and protecting the environment, which is another point in her favor. Eugeneans love their lands and wildlife, and we want to see the natural world prioritized. As climate change threatens to drastically alter and harm our planet, we need a mayor who not only acknowledges its existence (imagine that) but does whatever possible to mitigate and reduce the city’s emissions.

The last candidate, Eugene City Councilor Mike Clark, has nearly 10 years of political experience, but we find his record troubling. He has repeatedly voted against policies that we support: helping homeless communities, acting to reduce the impacts of climate change and instating socially progressive policies like Eugene’s sick leave ordinance. We’re confident that Eugene would see more of the same conservative, backwards-thinking if Clark is elected.

The city also needs a mayor who will lead, not one who simply follows the directions of the city manager.  If Eugene wants its values respected and represented, Vinis is the right choice for mayor.

Eugene Water and Electric Board

EWEB Wards 1 & 8

Steve Mital unopposed

EWEB Wards 2 & 3  

Dick Helgeson unopposed

EWEB Wards 6 & 7  

Sonya Carlson vs. Gary Malone

Sonya Carlson gets our nod for the Eugene Water and Electric Board post representing city Wards 6 and 7. Commissioner James Manning’s term is up, and rather than run for EWEB re-election, Manning is pursuing the Democratic nomination for House District 14. Manning’s choice to replace him in this very important commission is Gary Malone, who has an extensive background in energy production and physical plant management. But we think Carlson’s impressive academic record in energy sustainability, her organizational abilities and her skills of persuasion will help EWEB build stronger partnerships. EWEB must collaborate well with lawmakers, agencies and the Eugene community. Carlson thinks big but also appreciates the devilish details of managing our critical water and energy resources. She’s someone to watch as she takes her first step to an elected position.


20-239 Lane County — Yes

Supporting 4-H and OSU Extension Programs in Lane County

The Extension service’s programs include master gardener and food preservation and safety certification, and nutritional support for low-income families, just to name a few. It’s not a lot of money and it goes to support 4-H and much needed agrarian programs.

School Bond Measures — Yes

20-240 South Lane School District #45J3, South Lane School bond to improve safety and school facilities

20-241 Siuslaw School District #97J Bonds for new Construction, repairs and technology

20-242 Junction City School District #69 Bonds for replacement, safety, security, repairs and system upgrades

20-243 Mapleton School District #32 School District bond to improve facilities, safety and security

Until Oregon gets its act together and starts funding our schools properly, then we are in favor of school districts raising money through deliberate local bond measures.


Patty Perlow. Photo by Todd Cooper

District Attorney

Patty Perlow vs. Clayton Tullos

This one is a no-brainer. In their only “debate” — one before the City Club of Eugene — District Attorney Perlow was so professional, so prepared and so convincing compared to Attorney Clayton Tullos that we wondered why he was running. Having recently opened a law practice, he likely is motivated in part by the need to put his name out there. As she said after the forum, she welcomed the chance to introduce herself to the community. Gov. Kate Brown appointed Perlow last July.

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