Results for Think Out Loud (Other Results)
Oregon Republicans have had a hard time recruiting candidates for statewide office. That's one of the challenges that the newly elected chair of the Oregon Republican Party Art Robinson will now be facing. His predecessor, Suzanne Gallagher, had been at the helm for less than a year before she stepped down in the face of a recall vote. We'll talk to Robinson about whether or how his own political views, apparent in his past bids for Congress, will be evident in his leadership of the party statewide.
One of the most contentious issues on the special election May ballot is the municipal fluoridation measure in Portland. Last year we heard arguments on both sides of the debate — before the city council voted to approve fluoridation for Portland's water and before opponents gathered enough signatures to put the measure to a popular vote. We'll check in with the yes and no campaigns as they head into the home stretch. Ballots are due May 21.
The most high-profile ballot item in this week's special election is no doubt Portland's vote on fluoride, which has been garnering national attention. But there are other important issues on ballots across the state. Lane, Josephine, and Curry counties are all considering tax hikes to increase funding for law enforcement. Residents of Clackamas County are voting on a measure that could complicate TriMet's Portland-Milwaukie light-rail line. And ten districts across the state are asking voters to increase school funding.
On Wednesday afternoon Congressman David Wu sent a handwritten note to Gov. John Kitzhaber, resigning from his position representing Oregon's 1st District. Wu's resignation came after reports of an alleged sexual assault of an 18-year-old and after numerous accounts of erratic behavior. Kitzhaber immediately scheduled a Special Election for Jan. 31, 2012 and candidates quickly lined up. The primary will take place on Nov. 8 and here's who we're looking at so far—the Democrats are Brad Avakian, the state labor commissioner; State Sen. Suzanne Bonamici and State Rep. Brad Witt. On the Republican ticket Rob Cornilles, who ran against Wu in 2010, announced his candidacy Thursday. Rob Miller, president of Trailblazer Foods, is rumored to throw his hat in the ring. What does all of this mean for people who live in the 1st District? What do they want from their next Representative? How will their District fare without representation until 2012? Do you live in the 1st? What do you hope for?
You may have been approached by a representative from Americans Elect asking you to sign their ballot access petition. The group is trying to get a spot on every state ballot in the nation so they can run their own candidate in the 2012 election. Technically, they're a third party, but they're not operating in typical third party fashion. They describe themselves as nonpartisan and, at the moment, they don't have a candidate. What they do have is a process. Americans Elect will hold an online nominating convention starting in the spring of 2012. After three rounds, six candidates will be left. To qualify for the party's nomination, each of them will have to choose a running mate from another party. For example, Democrats will choose Republicans, and vice versa. But each candidate will also have the option to choose an independent, who has not sworn allegiance to any party. To some, Americans Elect seems like a refreshing answer to political gridlock. Others are skeptical about the group's motives and their financing, or worried that their effort will end up being nothing less than a gimmick that will serve as an election spoiler for one of the major parties. Americans Elect has successfully gained ballot access in a handful of states, including California, which required over 1 million signatures. And now, they're in Oregon.
Updated 8:20am Nov. 9, 2011 Voters are making key decisions in local elections all across the country. Oregonians in the First Congressional District will decide which two candidates to send to the special election in May. (We spoke with the Republican and Democratic frontrunners last month.) Washington voters will decide whether or not to privatize liquor sales in that state. This is an issue that failed to pass last year and if it passes this time, it could fuel a similar effort in Oregon — that's something we've also talked about on Think Out Loud. Washingtonians will also weigh in on how toll money should be spent and how home care workers should be trained. Outside of our region, some local elections have broader implications that could impact the Pacific Northwest. In the swing state of Ohio, an effort to repeal a state law that limits public employees' bargaining rights could serve as a bellwether for the 2012 presidential election. Voters in Boulder, Colorado voted last week to create a public utility after studying Portland's failed attempt to do so five years ago.
This May special election might not garner all the excitement of a November election, but there are still some important races to be decided. Education is a big issue this year. In Multnomah County the contentious $548 million bond for schools got a lot of people — for and against — out to vote. Education was also a big issue in Eugene where voters are deciding on an income tax to fund schools. In Clackamas County a five dollar annual vehicle registration fee dedicated to replacing the Sellwood bridge has the region divided. Then there's the comprehensive plan for Damascus, the levy for police vehicles in Seaside, and the transportation bond in Bend. These are just a few of the things people across the state are voting on. What is most important to you? How did you vote in your community? And what do you think of the results?
The mayor's office and four city council seats are on the May ballot in Eugene. Eugene's next city government will tackle economic issues such as development and logistical ones, like literally rebuilding the city hall. Kitty Piercy faces two challengers as she seeks a third term as mayor. She says she wants another four years to continue work on projects such as Envision Eugene, a plan for long-term growth in the city of 156,185. She's raised significantly more money than either of her challengers. Kevin Prociw currently works as a systems analyst for the City of Eugene, a job he'll have to give up if he's elected as mayor. He got into politics in 2010 when he started a government watchdog group called Lane County Citizens for Responsible Government. Jon Walrod is self-employed selling security systems. Like Prociw, he's never held elected office. His campaign does not have a website explaining his platform, but he's made public appearances with his opponents, where he's identified himself as conservative and emphasized running government like a private business. Incumbant Ward 2 councilor Betty Taylor is seeking a fifth term in office. At 86, Taylor isn't looking to retire from public life any time soon. She's garnered support from unions and an endorsement from the city's alternative weekly newspaper. She voted against ending Eugene's Occupy encampment in December of last year and she's adamently against tax breaks for the controversial Capstone development project. Taylor does not have a campaign website. Her opponents are Juan Carlos Valle, a Social Security Administration employee, and Jim Ray, who is semi-retired from his job as a restaurant equipment repairman. At last count, Valle's campaign had raised more than either of the others. He also got an endorsement from the Register-Guard. Valle is at odds with his opponents over the Capstone tax breaks, which he says could offer the city a significant economic opportunity. Ray says his top priorities are improving eduction and reducing gang activity in Eugene. Three other city councilors are running unopposed.
Tonight is election night and while it may seem fairly quiet, there are plenty of interesting local races going on around the state. The two most-watched races are probably for Attorney General and Portland mayor — both close races according to recent polls. Voters in Eugene are deciding between an incumbent mayor and two challengers and there are some hotly contested commissioner seats in both Lane and Clackamas counties. Three candidates are also vying to be the newest Oregon Supreme Court Justice. There are even a couple of incumbent legislators facing challengers from their own party. We'll follow these and many other races as results roll in tonight. Tune in to the radio or live stream at 8 p.m and follow us on Twitter @thinkoutloudopb.