Tina Kotek. Photo by Todd Cooper.

Endorsements – State Races

EW’s take on the general election 


Tina Kotek (D, WF)

Donice Noelle Smith (Constitution), Betsy Johnson (nonaffiliated), Christine Drazan (R)

Democratic Party nominee and former House Speaker Tina Kotek has the legislative experience to lead Oregon boldly and well. She knows Oregon’s issues, from homelessness to wildfires, and has the plans — and the leadership skills — to address them.

But if she loses and Oregon has its first Republican governor in decades, it won’t be because GOP candidate Christine Drazan is wildly popular. It’ll be because the Democratic Party voting bloc was split. Unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson (a former Democrat, sort of) could siphon off enough Dems to hand the governor’s seat to the Republican. 

Oregonians should rally behind Kotek. In four years, she can guide Oregon to a better place. In a recent conversation with EW, Kotek says that she’s not interested in being what she dubs a “super legislator,” working in the weeds of Oregon politics. She says she wants to be the state’s leader, bringing the state together, as she did with legislators when she was speaker of the House. And with Kotek’s leadership skills, we believe that she will do what she says and champion legislation that continues the state’s current action on the climate, as well as end homelessness for certain populations, such as veterans, folks over 55 years old, families with children and unaccompanied young adults. 

Neither Johnson nor Drazan accepted an endorsement interview with EW; Johnson was too busy “doing editorial board interviews with objective news sources,” according to her communications director. Johnson, a former longtime state senator, has received huge sums from Oregon’s richest wheeler-dealers, including nearly $3 million from Phil Knight (who recently also gave $1 million to Drazan). We feel better about the money Kotek is getting from unions, environmentalists and teachers. 

Johnson’s legislative history includes voting against a gradual minimum wage increase in 2016, against a step toward closing the wage gap for women and people of color in 2015 and against a sick leave and paid family leave bill in 2007. 

Johnson is a spoiler who is just helping Republican Drazan get elected. Drazan led walkouts during the 2020 legislative sessions, a political temper tantrum that killed several important bills, including one that would have instituted a carbon tax to fight climate change. Yes, fellow left-leaning voters, the two-party system isn’t perfect, but votes for nonaffiliated Johnson could move Oregon backward several steps. And that would be a shame when Kotek has the experience and knowledge to get work done. 

Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries (nonpartisan)

Christina Stephenson 

Cheri Helt 

Whoever sits in the position of Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries commissioner has an opportunity to make significant changes for everyday working Oregonians. Christina Stephenson, a civil rights attorney in Portland, and former state Rep. Cheri Helt of Bend, are in a runoff for the seat whose responsibilities include protecting employment rights and establishing vocational education. 

Helt, a registered Republican, owns Zydeco Kitchen and Cocktails in Bend with her husband. She was elected state representative in 2018 but lost her re-election in the 2020 general election. Helt did not respond to EW’s request for an interview. Among Helt’s endorsements are 2022 gubernatorial candidates Betsy Johnson and Christine Drazan as well as 2018 Republican governor candidate Knute Buehler, none of whom impress us. 

Stephenson, whose civil rights expertise would by itself make her a strong candidate, has been endorsed by five past BOLI commissioners — including outgoing Commissioner Val Hoyle and Republican Jack Roberts. With that backing, we’re confident that Stephenson can foster a culture that holds employers accountable while investing in vocational training and making bureaucracy the last thing business owners need to worry about. 


State Senate

4th District

Floyd Prozanski (D, R), incumbent, unopposed

6th District

Ashley Pelton (D, I) 

Cedric R. Hayden (R)

7th District

James Manning Jr. (D, WF), incumbent

Raquel Ivie (R)

State House

7th District

John Lively (D, I), incumbent

Alan Stout (R)

8th District

Paul Holvey (D), incumbent  

Michael F. Moore (R)

9th District

Jerry Rust (D)

Boomer Wright (R), incumbent

In an interview with Eugene Weekly, Jerry Rust, who served as a Lane County commissioner for 20 years from the mid ’70s to the mid ’90s, wonders what state Rep. Boomer Wright has done for the coastal Oregon  communities that he represents. Rust ran as a Democratic Party write-in candidate, so conservative Wright would face a general election challenger, and we believe that leaders on Oregon’s beautiful coast should have a better environmental and humanitarian voting record than Wright has — Wright voted against bills on affordable energy and barriers to affordable housing to name a few.  

12th District


Michelle Emmons. Photo by Todd Cooper.

Michelle Emmons (D, I)

Charlie Conrad (R)

The race is between Michelle Emmons and Republican Charlie Conrad of Dexter, who to his credit has distanced himself from the wacky MAGA and QAnon parts of the party. Conrad, a former Springfield police officer, was involved in a high priced $450,000 alleged police brutality case settlement against a Deaf man. He says if elected he wants to re-examine how recent laws, such as the Corporate Activity Tax that funds Oregon’s schools, affect the ag industry. 

Emmons of Oakridge is the Democratic Party and Independent Party of Oregon candidate. She says she wants to advocate for rural communities, too, and we like her plans to bring electric technologies to farmers, increase broadband access for rural emergency preparedness and education. Emmons has been endorsed by Cottage Grove Mayor Jeff Gowing, Lane County Commissioner Heather Buch and Sen. Jeff Merkley — just to name a few — and those are the sort of endorsements that show Emmons can be a true advocate for rural communities while in the Legislature. 

13th District

Nancy Nathanson (D, I)

Timothy Sutherland (R)

14th District

Julie Fahey (D, WF),  incumbent

Stan Stubblefield (R)

State Ballot Measures

Measure 111, YES. State must ensure affordable health care access, balanced against requirement to fund schools, other essential services.

Measure 111 will “ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right.” According to the Oregon Voters’ Pamphlet, the measure’s financial impact “will depend on future legislative action to establish additional health benefits and determine how they will be paid for.” We’re betting that giving all Oregonians access to affordable health care saves money in the end, and we know it’s the right thing to do.

Measure 112, YES.  Removes language allowing slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime.

The disgusting institution of slavery has been abolished in the United States for more than 150 years, and the fact that in 2022 we still have language in our state Constitution allowing involuntary servitude as criminal punishment is bizarre and embarassing. The amendment would also add language allowing a court or probation or parole agency “to order a person convicted of a crime to engage in education, counseling, treatment, community service, or other alternatives to incarceration, as part of sentencing for the crime.”

Measure 113, YES. Legislators with 10 unexcused absences from floor sessions disqualified from holding next term of office.

Having a majority in the Oregon Legislature doesn’t mean a party has control. Oregon requires a quorum of legislators, meaning a simple majority of the elected politicians must be present to pass a vote. In the past, party members have walked out and not shown up. Coordinated Republican absences led the 2020 session to end with numerous unresolved issues. This measure means if legislators don’t show up, they don’t get to run for their office the next time.

Measure 114, YES.  Requires permit to acquire firearms; police maintain permit/firearm database; criminally prohibits certain ammunition magazines.

Every time there’s a mass shooting there’s hand wringing and prayers — and so much mourning. This measure prohibits magazines with more than 10 rounds and requires obtaining a permit to buy a firearm — entailing fingerprints, photo ID, a background check and safety training. It’s not taking away the right to have a gun; it’s making gun ownership safer and more accountable.

Judge of the Circuit Court (nonpartisan) 

2nd District, Position 11

Beatrice Grace, incumbent

Marty Wilde

It’s not very often we find ourselves endorsing in a race for a judge’s seat. Both candidates have told us that they think it’s a good thing to have an actual election and we agree. After all, Lane County judges decide on criminal cases, custody disputes and more. You don’t think about who the judge is going to be until you find yourself in court. Beatrice Grace was appointed in August by Gov. Kate Brown when Judge Lauren Holland retired, and we have already heard praise from local attorneys. On our end, having a rural-dwelling single mom gives a needed perspective on the court.