The primary election in May doesn’t get the buzz that November elections get, but here in Oregon, the primary matters a lot, especially when you are looking at races such as the Lane County Board of Commissioners where a candidate who gets 50 percent of the vote plus one is the only name that goes onto the fall ballot. This basically means the election gets won in the spring.
Each year, EW staffers send out questions, do research and interview candidates to figure out who’s the best person for the job and tell you who or what we endorse (spoiler alert, in case you can’t tell from the cover, we totally endorsed the elected, independent auditor).
This year, as has happened a time or two in the past, our editorial board didn’t agree on a couple races. In the race for state representative Marty Wilde and Kimberley Koops each have their pros and cons, as do Heather Buch and Kevin Matthews for the Lane County Commission. While we love a candidate who challenges the status quo, we also love consensus and coalition builders. So we decided to dual endorse. That’s not helpful, you say? Then go with what matters to you at your core, whether it be more women in politics, a record of military service, affordable housing or land use.
It’s nice to know, in a time when elections have been angry and have built hate, that we have multiple candidates we can get behind.
So go vote.
Kate Brown v. Candace Neville and V. Knute Buehler v. Greg Wooldridge v. et al
BROWN STANDS OUT FROM THE CROWD
A slew of candidates have filed in the primary, and at this point one Republican is starting to look much like another. But when it comes to the Dems, Kate Brown is the place to mark your vote. She might have come to the office the first time because the last elected Democrat had to leave under a cloud, but she hasn’t let that rain on her time in office.
And we are not saying that we don’t appreciate the efforts of local Dem Candy Neville to run and draw attention to issues such as liquefied natural gas pipelines in Oregon.
Brown, though, has shown herself to be able to take a stand against Donald Trump and against climate change. Brown’s for equal pay, for net neutrality and for generally taking Oregon in a positive direction — and to top it all off, she has a great, quiet sense of humor.
Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries
Val Hoyle v. Jack Howard v. Lou Ogden
GO VAL OR GO HOME
The vote cast for Val Hoyle for commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries is one of the most important votes in the May primary. She needs 50 percent plus one to win this “nonpartisan” state race now rather than fighting it out in the November election. It’s all about turnout. Dems and progressives should go all-out to get those ballots off the kitchen table and into the mail. If Republican Lou Ogden wins, it’s another inroad by the radical right into this narrowly blue state. The unpaid mayor of Tualatin, Ogden has a truly disgraceful record as described by The Oregonian, not exactly a liberal newspaper, in our news section and by our own Tony Corcoran in a column on April 12. Meanwhile, Hoyle was majority leader of the Oregon House, a representative from 2009 to 2016, and has 25 years of experience in retail management and retail sales. She’s endorsed by Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, plus a long list of labor unions, Planned Parenthood PAC, and the Oregon Home Builders Association. We give her our must-win endorsement.
Kimberly Koops v. Marty Wilde
VOTE FOR EITHER
With the news that Democrat Phil Barnhart isn’t seeking re-election to the Oregon House of Representatives this fall to represent District 11, four candidates have filed for the chance to replace him. Two Democrats and two Republicans want to represent the district, which encompasses such diverse communities as south Eugene, Creswell and Coburg.
While not a slam-dunk, the winner of the Democratic primary should easily be able to win the seat. In 2016, Barnhart beat his Republican opponent by a 7 percent margin.
The two aspiring Dems who have filed in the primary are both well qualified to serve in the state Legislature — and both have similar positions on progressive issues from education to health care.
Kimberly Koops, a student at the University of Oregon School of Law, brings several years of staff experience in the political arena though she has never been elected. She’s worked for U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici as well as for Planned Parenthood in Washington, D.C. She has an impressive list of endorsements from unions and such local political leaders as Kitty Piercy and Lucy Vinis.
Marty Wilde, executive director of the Lane County Medical Society and a colonel in the Air National Guard, has never been elected, either. He brings considerable experience, though, on local boards and commissions, and he won a Bronze Star for his work as a military lawyer in Bosnia and Serbia.
Wilde, we think, could step into the job and be an effective representative for his constituents from day one.
Should she win, Koops (28) would be the youngest woman ever elected to the Oregon House — an institution that needs more women, of any age, to join its ranks. Though she’ll need toughening up, our bet is she’ll be a quick study.
We’d be happy to see either one of these two candidates win the primary.
EW generally doesn’t endorse in Republican primaries, but in the case of Joshua Powell v. Mark Herbert, it’s
really helpful to know that Powell regularly posts racist and anti-Semitic statements on social media and the Republican Party does not back him as a candidate.
West Commissioner, Position 1
Jay Bozievich v. Nora Kent v. Beverly Hills
There are two things that crack us up about this race. First that it’s “nonpartisan,” which means technically it’s not about the political parties. And second, someone named Beverly Hills is running and will probably get some votes on the name alone.
But we say vote for Nora Kent.
Partisan or not, incumbent Jay Bozievich is a heavy part of the Lane County Commission’s lean to the right. We don’t mind that he’s prickly and quick to take offense (he’s probably got a Google alert for his name, is reading this right now and feeling annoyed, and is getting ready to send us an email); we mind that the best we can say of him is that he’s been less polarizing than he’s been in the past — at least we haven’t seen him taking photos of other commissioners and mocking them on Facebook lately. And we mind that his votes reflect a mindset that favors mining and logging over the environment. And we mind that back in 2015, you know, a couple mass shootings ago, he voted in favor of the resolution saying the county was “unable to expend any county resources for the implementation” of Oregon’s new gun background check law.
The West Lane Commissioner District is a mix of progressives and more middle-of-the-road and right-wing voters. Kent herself is from Deadwood, known as a progressive Coast Range enclave. She’s new to politics, though not to public service as she points to her work at Lane Community College and volunteer efforts with her school district’s PTA. Four years ago, Dawn Lesley gave Boz a run for his money. Hopefully this year, Kent can build on that and shake things up.
Springfield Commissioner, Position 2
Sid Leiken v. Joe Berney
FEEL THE BERNEY
Lane County has a chance to reinvent itself from timber country into a forerunner of America’s green future with Joe Berney. It all boils down to someone with a proven past in sustainable, renewable development who can give the county a boost into establishing sustainable work, against someone (current Springfield Commissioner Sid Leiken) whose partners represent business as usual in Lane County — timber and resource extraction.
In addition, Berney has a proven history as a social justice advocate. He served as assistant director of Community Services Administration during the Carter administration, worked with Teamsters and United Farm Workers in Central Coast California and organized “Networking for Youth.” His commitment to social justice showed when Grupo de Latino Acción Directa invited both Berney and Leiken to meet with Latinx voters in Springfield. Of course, only Berney showed up.
But, there’s more to Berney than just his commitment to social justice. He says he has a Rolodex of previous partners with whom he’s done green business and, since he knows what sort of incentives they like, he can attract them to Lane County. And, if his business’ success is any indication of his ability to coordinate and make green development happen, Lane County could see itself in a more sustainable place in four years. At the very least, electing Berney will be a breath of fresh air Lane County desperately needs.
East Commissioner, Position 5
Heather Buch v. Kevin Matthews v. Gary Williams v. Frank King v.
James Barber v. Tim Laue
GO EAST, YOUNG VOTER
Voters in east Lane County have two great candidates in a field of many to support in unseating current East Commissioner Gary Williams. In the race against Williams — who is new on the board, since the right-leaning Board of Commissioners appointed him in early 2017 — we at EW believe east Lane County couldn’t go wrong in supporting either Kevin Matthews or Heather Buch.
This isn’t the first time Kevin Matthews has run for the east Lane County commissioner position. In 2014, he finished second to Faye Stewart. Since he’s no stranger to the commissioner campaign, Matthews speaks with confidence about land use and development in Lane County. He says he thinks the timber industry is the “800-pound gorilla” in the Lane County Commissioner boardroom and wants to turn them into a good neighbor, rather than reinforcing an extraction culture that poses a binary question of either rural development or logging.
That also means revisiting some of the tax codes that allow large timber companies to pay zero property taxes when the county is in a dire state of providing basic services, like a well-funded Sheriff’s Office. We think he could form a strong coalition with Commissioner Peter Sorenson and challenge the priority of agenda items and the board’s tendency to base decisions on the notion that “only timber can save us,” as he says.
Heather Buch does, however, have practical insight when it comes to finding affordable housing. It’s where she really shines because no one else on the board has experience working as a Realtor. This experience would give her realistic policy ideas that could attract possibilities of increased affordable housing in Lane County.
Since she has experience coordinating affordable housing projects with St. Vincent de Paul, Buch could benefit the board when discussing ways to improve residential zones, a system she says is in need of overhaul. Buch also believes county government is mistaken in trying to lure out-of-county economic development. Instead, the county should focus on empowering local rural communities in Lane County with the infrastructure to support homegrown economic development.
And, to be honest, it would be great to see someone sitting on the Lane County Board of Commissioners who isn’t a middle-aged white guy.
The division between these candidates would appear if they were to serve in a progressive minority on the commission. Buch says she would be willing to look for small win-wins. Matthews, on the other hand, sees a need for a paradigm shift; he could be the enthusiastic voice to make that happen.
Because of the strength in candidates Matthews and Buch, James Barber was in a tough place. We found it remarkable that he pledged to not accept large contributions, maintaining a grassroots campaign. We hope to see his name on the ballot in the future.
Alan Zelenka v. Thomas Bruno v. Hugh Paterson III
STAY THE SAME
For Ward 3, the university area, our endorsement pick is incumbent Alan Zelenka. Going into what would be his fourth term, if elected, Zelenka says he’s proud of his accomplishments, but adds, “There’s still a lot to do.” He says his main focuses are affordable housing and homelessness, public safety and neighborhood protection, sustainability and preparing Eugene for tech jobs.
Zelenka has already been a part of spearheading projects to help the homeless, such as Opportunity Village and the rest stops. He says he wants to see more projects like those in the future.
Being the councilor for the university area, Zelenka has a track record of helping improve traffic and parking in the area, notably from the Matthew Knight Arena. He says he’ll also be working with whatever comes of the new plans for Hayward Field.
Zelenka has always been very focused on Eugene’s environmental sustainability and is proud of Eugene’s climate ordinance, but he says he is still working on ways to make Eugene more sustainable. He also helped create the Sustainability Commission.
He also says he’s always been focused on bringing civility to council meetings and having thoughtful discussions. He says even though he may have opposing viewpoints with other councilors, he always puts that aside to have intelligent and civil conversations about issues — something we think is great to have on the council.
Although there are some issues we don’t agree with him on, such as his support for an appointed city auditor, we think Zelenka is still a good choice to remain as Ward 3’s city councilor.
Jennifer Yeh unopposed
LET IT RIDE
We often encourage voters to write in candidates in unopposed races to remind city councilors not to get complacent, but Jennifer Yeh is still pretty new, so let’s give her some time. Give her a vote if you like her — it’s worth noting who gets votes and stays in office and who gets barely any at all and stays too.
Mike Clark v. Christopher Dean
A New Citizen In town
For Ward 5’s City Council position, we’re endorsing Christopher Dean. Dean has also already received endorsements from Mayor Lucy Vinis and former Mayor Kitty Piercy.
Originally from Canada, Dean has been living with his wife, Kate, in north Eugene for over 10 years. Here on a green card for most of those years, he recently became an American citizen, filing for City Council candidacy only a day after passing his citizenship test. Dean says, as a part of being an American citizen, he wants to be able to give back to his community.
A broker and Realtor for his company, Bennett & Dean Real Estate, Dean says, among other issues, he’s focused on bringing more affordable housing to Eugene and says his experience working with builders and contractors gives him the knowledge to be able to realistically do that. He says he’s also frustrated with the way projects like Capstone were handled by the city.
Dean thinks he has the skills to be a consensus builder for the council. In an endorsement interview with EW, he said that he would work to bring the council together on issues, if elected. He says he could do a better job of this than current Ward 5 councilor, his competitor, Mike Clark.
Though we don’t agree with a lot of Clark’s opinions and votes on the council, like casting a “no” vote on issues to help the environment and our homeless population, Clark isn’t a terrible option.
We do admire his ability to speak his mind — like his thoughts on the issue of the upcoming city auditor vote. We also appreciate that he has a different point of view from the other councilors, and we honestly considered endorsing him. We even reached out to him a number of times to schedule an endorsement interview and got absolutely no response back. Hopefully he communicates better with his constituents.
Taking this all into account, we think that Dean is the best candidate for the job.
Greg Evans unopposed
Eugene Water& Electric Board
Wards 4 and 5
John Brown Unopposed
Victor Odlivak v. Zach Mulholland v. Mindy Schlossberg
THE MINDY PROJECT
Zach Mulholland and Mindy Schlossberg are both strong candidates and regardless of the outcome, we hope they stay in the public arena. Mindy Schlossberg has shown leadership qualities, understands budgets and balance sheets, and seems better qualified to represent all 88,000 rate payers at this time. We agree with one of the current board members who says a woman is needed for the EWEB board. “For too long it has been dominated by middle-aged males.”
Ballot Measure 20-283
Amends Charter: establishes office, duties of independent elected city auditor
Ballot Measure 20-287
Amends Charter: establishes council-appointed performance auditor, audit review board
MAKE AUDITING GREAT AGAIN!
Who doesn’t want genuine oversight of the doings of city government?
Well, the backers of Ballot Measure 20-287 don’t, for one. The measure is the Eugene City Council’s cynical response to a previously filed citizens’ initiative — Ballot Measure 20-283 — that would create an independent and separately elected city auditor.
The backers of the city-approved auditor proposal would have you believe otherwise, but the timing of their ballot measure makes it clear that 20-287 is nothing but a poison pill — a tried-and-true tactic in Oregon and elsewhere in which established interests try to undermine a reform proposal by offering a watered-down version of the original idea on the same ballot. The goal is to muddy the issue and split the vote so that neither measure passes.
The original measure in this case — 20-283 — would create an independent elected performance auditor to oversee city programs. The auditor would not be appointed by the city council but would be elected directly by the citizens. The measure also establishes a budget for the auditor’s office of 0.1 percent of the city budget, a reasonable sum.
The council’s watered-down version would have the council appoint its own auditor and give the office about a third of the originally proposed budget to work with. Both ideas weaken the auditor so much that the office would become just one more drag on the city’s budget without providing a clear benefit.
Vote for a real auditor with a “yes” on 20-283 and a “no” on 20-287.
Ballot Measure 20-288
Five-year parks and recreation operations and maintenance local option levy
Ballot Measure 20-289
Bonds to fund parks and recreation facility projects