Eugene Weekly’s Election Endorsements

Don’t let a loser win. Vote!

Ballots are being mailed between Oct. 19 and Oct. 25. The last day to register to vote in Oregon was Oct. 18. Don’t let a loser win. Vote!

U.S. President 

Hillary Clinton (D) vs. Donald Trump (R), Gary Johnson (L), Jill Stein (G)

We endorsed Bernie Sanders in the primary. Now we’re taking his advice and voting for Hillary Clinton, not sitting at home pouting and planning not to vote. We interviewed both Stein and Johnson, and while we found them interesting, Stein steers away from candid, off-message responses and Johnson chokes under pressure. Neither have the leadership skills needed for the presidency. Sanders holds up that Democratic platform full of his issues, telling us that he, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley and other progressives will stake out a place in her administration. He also warns that Donald Trump cannot be president of our country. We believe in Bernie, and that’s why we’re voting for Hillary.

U.S. Senate 

Ron Wyden (D) vs. Mark Callahan (R), Eric Navickas (G), Shanti Lewallen (WF), Steven Reynolds (I)

If we are fortunate enough to win a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate on Nov. 8, Oregon’s senior senator will be a powerful player, especially on issues of security. Sure to win again, Wyden has been busy raising money for closer races. He has no real competition and gets our vote one more time.

U.S. House

Peter DeFazio (D) vs. Art Robinson (R), Mike Beilstein (G)

Art Robinson said at a recent Eugene City Club debate that he intends to run again and again against Peter DeFazio. Maybe it’s just a publicity stunt to ensure Oregonians keep sending him their pee? We disagree with DeFaz sometimes, but when it comes down to it, we’re with Pete.

Oregon Governor 

Kate Brown (D) vs. Bud Pierce (R), James Foster (L), Cliff Thomason (I), Aaron Donald Auer (C)

We were already for Kate Brown before the gubernatorial debates, but our position was strengthened further when Brown bravely volunteered that she had been a victim of domestic violence and opponent Bud Pierce said educated, well-off women are “not susceptible” to domestic violence. Pierce later apologized, but what a stance for a medical doctor! If he hadn’t figured out something as basic as that before his campaign, we have little hope for progressive stances on the environment or poverty. Brown has faltered here and there —  we’d like to see her stronger on the environment herself — but overall, she’s a strong leader for Oregon and should be elected.

Oregon Secretary of State 

Brad Avakian (D) vs. Dennis Richardson (R), Paul Damian Wells (I), Alan Zundel (G)

Remember that the Oregon secretary of state is on the State Land Board, decider of the fate of the Elliott State Forest, for instance. The secretary of state is next in line to the governor and in charge of elections. NARAL, Planned Parenthood and the Oregon Education Association have all endorsed Avakian, along with the Sierra Club and other environmental groups. Some critics say Avakian wants to do too much, like encouraging civics classes in Oregon schools, holding a youth vote. Really? Isn’t that what a secretary of state with Oregon values should do? His opponent, Dennis Richardson, is an extreme conservative not good on same-sex marriage, abortion rights, climate change and the list goes on. This is an extremely important contest with stark differences for the future of this state.

Oregon State Treasurer 

Tobias Read vs. Jeff Gudman (R), Chris Henry (G), Chris Telfer (I)

Tobias Read, a Democrat currently in the Oregon House, is in the race for state treasurer. He’s endorsed by the current treasurer, Ted Wheeler (D), who is leaving due to term limits. As the state’s chief financial officer, official banker and elected official responsible for managing the state’s money, state treasurer is a key seat. Also the state treasurer serves on the State Land Board, making decisions such as how to deal with the Elliott State Forest. We’d like to see a Democrat in that seat who prefers the Elliott’s coastal old growth stays standing.

Oregon Attorney General 

Ellen Rosenblum (D) vs. Daniel Zene Crowe (R)

As journalists who hold government transparency and public records access sacred, we are for Ellen Rosenblum, who has picked up the torch on that issue, which is in need of reform in this state. She isn’t afraid to build bridges, teaming up with former opponent for AG seat Dwight Holton to work on the opioid epidemic, and she’s worked on improving privacy laws so victims of campus sexual assault are better protected. Her opponent Crowe tells us he’s voting for Trump and is a bit of a one-trick-pony with his focus on the “rule of law” in his campaign. Rosenblum has the track record that shows she can get work done in the law and the Legislature.

Oregon State Senate

District 5 Arnie Roblan (D) vs. Dick Anderson (R, I), Dan Souza (L)

Oregon State House

District 7 Cedric Hayden (R), Vincent Portulano (D), Fergus Mclean (G,I)

Neither Vincent Portulano (D) nor Fergus Mclean (I) really has a record of holding higher office or therefore of course a voting record. Mclean has run before and has a pro-environment history. Incumbent Cedric Hayden does have a voting record, and we are not impressed. He voted for taking wolves off the endangered species list and against extending the background check waiting period on gun sales. He voted against paid sick leave and requiring electric companies to eliminate coal power. Both Mclean and Portulano are for Measure 97, as is EW, and Hayden is against it. You can register your displeasure with Hayden by voting for a more progressive candidate.

District 8 Paul Holvey (D) vs. Mary Tucker (R)

District 9 Caddy McKeown (D) vs. Teri Grier (R). Guy Rosinbaum (L)

District 11 Phil Barnhart (D) vs. Joe Potwora (R)

Republicans are pouring money in against Phil Barnhart. District 11 can be a tough one for progressive Democrats. Barnhart says his top legislative priorities include “promoting job growth in the short term by being an advocate for small businesses that hire Oregonians and in the long term by working to fully fund our kids’ educations, supporting struggling families and creating more fairness in our tax system.” He’s a valuable legislator who needs our votes.

District 12 John Lively (D) vs. Robert Schwartz (R)

District 13 Nancy Nathanson (D) vs. Laura Cooper (R), Christopher Tsekouras (L)

District 14 Julie Fahey (D) vs. Kathy Lamberg (R)

For House District 14, Julie Fahey gets our vote. We respect her vocal support for access to reproductive health care, her strong backing of labor unions and her experience with the Democratic Party of Oregon and as a graduate of the Emerge Oregon program, which teaches women Democrats how to run for office.

According to a Sept. 18 survey by The Oregonian, Fahey’s opponent, Kathy Lamberg, supports Trump for president, and although she professes to support education, she does not support Measure 97, according to The Register-Guard. Both these stances concern us.

We believe Fahey and her progressive values will serve the Oregon Legislature well.

Nonpartisan races

Eugene Mayor

Lucy Vinis 

Although Lucy Vinis won the primary election for mayor of Eugene by a wide margin — wide enough that she avoided a November runoff — we reiterate our support of her. Her combination of values and life experience make her extremely qualified for the position, from her concern for preserving the environment to her understanding of homelessness and the complex factors that surround it. We’ve heard that Scott Landfield, owner of Tsunami Books, is running a write-in campaign, but we stand by our endorsement of Vinis.

Eugene City Council Ward 1

Emily Semple vs. Josh Skov

Even with the Clinton-Trump chaos playing out in real time, the race for Eugene’s Ward 1 City Council seat is still the most important election facing Eugeneans this season.

The council often splits six-to-two when voting, with its staunchest progressive members, Ward 2’s Betty Taylor and Ward 1’s George Brown, doing their damnedest to resist the steady creep of municipal-level neoliberalism.

In the past year alone Taylor and Brown opposed the destruction of Kesey Square, the renewal of tax breaks for the landed gentry (Multi-unit Property Tax Exemption) and ad infinitum extension of the troublesome Downtown Urban Renewal District. With Brown stepping down, the city needs a stalwart progressive to take his place in order to act as the city’s lefty conscience.

We like Emily Semple for the job.

A former Occupy activist and an advocate for the rights of the unhoused who runs her own graphic design business, Semple says she sees herself as “the people’s candidate” in this race. And that bears out when you look at who’s got her back, and who doesn’t.

The human pillars of Semple’s campaign are a who’s who of fierce City Council progressives, past and present. Former councilors Paul Nicholson, Bonny Bettman-McCornack and David Kelly stand with Semple. Brown hand-selected Semple to carry the torch and Taylor is in her corner, too.

Lane County’s left-most commissioner, Pete Sorensen, is for Semple. And so is Occupy Medical manager Sue Sierralupe.

Semple has her eye on “shelter first” policies to help Eugene’s homeless. She wants Eugene to have free-to-ride public transit, like Corvallis. Additionally, she says City Council wastes a lot of time discussing climate change when it could easily support planting more trees and aiming to reduce carbon emissions.

The Eugene City Council doesn’t function well, Semple says, and has a steep road ahead if it wants to earn back the public’s trust. One easy way to begin, Semple says, is for the city to publish written minutes immediately following council work sessions.

The best thing about Semple, though, might be her long-term goal: Attract like-minded progressives to run for other council seats.

Two councilors, Ward 7’s Claire Syrett and Ward 8’s Chris Pryor, are running unopposed this election. That sends up red flags, Semple says, that we could be doing more to encourage civic participation.

Springfield City Council Ward 3 

Sheri Moore vs. Sean Dunn

State ballot measures

Measure 94 would repeal the mandatory judicial retirement age, which is currently 75 years old. Yes.

Most judges are eager to retire long before 75, and the few who want to continue should have the option. Although they are not Oregon judges, we think of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Judge Harry Pregerson of the 9th Circuit, ruling brilliantly long past 75.

Measure 95 would allow public state universities to invest in equities. Yes.

We asked a local investment adviser and a local economist we respect to give us their views on 95. Both said it is a conservative proposal, some risk involved, but they generally support it for the benefits it offers. It applies to all Oregon public state universities, not only the University of Oregon. We do wonder why this was referred to the voters who have so little understanding of the issues.

Measure 96 would devote 1.5 percent of state lottery net proceeds toward veterans’ services. No.

As much as we want to see veterans’ services funded, we are skeptical of this measure. It draws from the same funding source (lottery dollars) as the Outdoor School measure. Rather than pull more from the lottery pot, and lock this funding into the Oregon Constitution, we would like to see the Oregon Legislature allocate money from the general fund for veterans’ services.

Measure 97 would raise corporate taxes on businesses with annual sales that exceed $25 million. Yes.

We’ve said it again and again in our education coverage, and we’ll repeat it one more time: Oregon school funding is in crisis mode. Talk to anyone immersed in Oregon’s schools, from teachers and superintendents to parents and school board members, and you’ll quickly realize just how dire the situation is. Oregon’s Quality Education Commission states clearly that Oregon is underfunding its schools by $1 billion a year, resulting in large class sizes, overworked teachers and major cuts to physical education, arts classes and supporting staff.

Oregon kids deserve better, and their education matters. With that in mind, we emphatically recommend a “yes” vote on Measure 97.

The rhetoric surrounding this campaign swirls around arguments of sales taxes and impacts to Oregon’s business community. Measure 97 would level a 2.5 percent tax on C corporations with Oregon sales of more than $25 million. It would generation $3 billion a year, with the measure directing funds toward education, health care and senior services.

National corporations have poured money into the “no” campaign, with big donations from the likes of Kroger, Gap and Comcast. The nonpartisan Oregon Legislative Revenue Office predicted a financial impact to consumers, saying that businesses would “pass on” the cost of the tax to their customers.

But if that were entirely true, and the measure effectively operated like a sales tax, why would businesses oppose it at all? Businesses in Oregon have lobbied for a sales tax for years.

No other solution has emerged to tackle Oregon’s education funding crisis. Since Measure 5 gutted education funding, legislators have argued back and forth for decades about how to fund schools with little to show for it. And kids continue to suffer the consequences.

Ultimately, if Oregon doesn’t find a way to invest fully in its public education system, Oregon businesses will suffer an undereducated workforce and struggle to attract talent to the state when prospective employees don’t want to bring their kids here.

Education is one of the most important investments Oregon could possibly make. For the past two decades, our state has shortchanged its future by selling our public school system short. Enough is enough, and it’s time to fund schools with a “yes” vote on Measure 97.

Measure 98 would require state funding for dropout-prevention and career and college readiness programs in Oregon high schools. Yes.

Measure 98 sets out to tackle the issue of high school graduation, and we agree that it’s an important matter to address. Only about 74 percent of Oregon high school students graduate on time, and we have third worst graduation rate in the country.

Measure 98 proposes requiring public high schools in Oregon to offer more opportunities for career and technical education (CTE), which has suffered cuts because of underfunding. Research shows that kids who take CTE courses are more likely to graduate on time. The measure resolves to use “proven dropout-prevention strategies” to improve Oregon’s graduation rate, creating a special fund for the purpose of providing these resources. The Legislature would allocate $800 per high school student per year.

The measure is effectively an unfunded mandate in that the money would come from the general fund.

This isn’t a faultless solution and might work better for some school districts than others. When the state forces school districts to allocate money in a certain way, it takes away their ability to individualize funds toward district-specific needs.

If Measure 97 passes, however, schools will grow closer to being fully funded, and additional resources can be allocated toward increasing graduation rates. We agree that overall, funding dropout-prevention programs seems an important strategy in tackling our dismally low graduation rates. Because of this, we support Measure 98.

Measure 99 would create an “Outdoor School Education Fund,” sourced from state lottery proceeds, to support outdoor school programs. Yes.

It’s challenging to find pitfalls in Measure 99, which would use unallocated lottery funds to provide a full week of Outdoor School for all fifth and sixth graders. As the “yes” campaign points out, kids experience numerous benefits from getting outdoors, including exercise and exposure to nature. Even in Oregon, not all kids have access to the outdoors, and a week outside as part of a school program provides students with foundational skills to explore their world and gain an appreciation for it. After all, it’s up to our youngest generation to fix the planet — how will they want to save it if they never see it? This one gets a definite “yes” vote from EW.

Measure 100 would prohibit the sale of products from and parts of 12 species of endangered animals. Yes.

The measure plugs a hole in Oregon law that doesn’t prohibit the sale of wildlife parts and products from nonnative species, except shark fins, and it supports a national movement to restrict the ivory trade.

Note: EW does not endorse in races in which we feel we have not gotten enough information on the issue or the candidate.