Table of Contents
- Federal offices
- State offices and measures
- State senate
- State house of representatives
- City of Portland
- Portland Community College
- Clackamas County
- Multnomah County
- Washington County
- Beaverton School District
- David Douglas School District
- Parkrose School District
- Recommendation considerations
Wyden has been a U.S. Senator since 1996. While an entrenched official isn’t the best for their constituency, Wyden has actively worked to tax billionaires, legalize cannabis, end surveillance, and curb climate change on levels we just don’t see from other long-time politicians. He’s done it with comparatively little financial gain, too. Wyden isn’t perfect, of course. His willingness to work on laws criminalizing boycotts and other forms of political activism should give every voter pause, but he’s certainly better than his QAnon-supporting opponent.
US Representative — District 1
Bonamici has held her seat for a decade and has seen reasonable success on education issues. She’s prioritizing federal protections for abortion access during this election, showing the importance of having at least one woman in Oregon’s Congressional delegation.
US Representative — District 3
Blumenauer has represented Oregon in Congress since 1996. He’s solidly on the left and has seniority necessary for holding useful committee seats. Blumenauer’s strong hold on the seat means that he’ll continue to be a fixture in Oregon and national politics.
US Representative — District 5
McLeod-Skinner beat Kurt Schrader in the primary based on her progressive politics. She’s now facing an opponent following the Republican party line, from banning abortion to increasing funding for police. Many pollsters are calling the race a toss-up, so voters who want a representative willing to support basic civil rights need to turn out for McLeod-Skinner.
State office and measures
Governor of Oregon
Out of the three candidates running for governor, Kotek is the only one who has committed to addressing climate change, advocates for evidence-based approaches to homelessness, and will protect civil rights for many marginalized groups.
Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries
Christina Stephenson Stephenson’s legal practice focuses on workers’ rights. As such, she’s seen BOLI’s failures to protect workers first-hand. She already has a to-do list started for improving the agency, which includes better addressing wage theft, expanding apprenticeship programs, and helping small businesses with compliance.
There are no contested circuit judicial elections on the November ballot.
Measure 111 will update the Oregon State Constitution to guarantee the right to “cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care” for every state resident. If we approve the measure, Oregon would be the first state in the country to constitutionally require affordable healthcare for its population. The biggest issue with this ballot measure is that amendments don’t generally come with plans for implementation — they’re beginnings, not ends. Once a constitutional amendment is in place, state legislators have to figure out how to turn it into a reality.
Slavery is legal in Oregon: there’s a loophole in the state constitution that allows slavery or involuntary servitude as a punishment for crimes. Only ten states in the U.S. have this sort of exception. It’s time to remove Oregon from the list. This ballot measure would remove the loophole, as well as adding language authorizing alternatives to incarceration. Measure 112 will not end prison work programs, but rather change the language under which such programs are authorized. Like other constitutional amendments, Measure 112 is a step, not a solution.
If Measure 113 passes, state legislators who miss more than ten floor sessions without getting their absences excused will be ineligible for future terms. The measure is meant to limit walkouts, such as the efforts to prevent votes on climate crises responses and COVID-19 restrictions over the past three years. Approving this measure will put more power into the hands of the leaders of each state legislature chamber, the speaker of the house and the president of the senate, who are responsible for approving excused absences. However, excusing absences has been routine historically, and there are few other ways to remove a state legislator or prevent their future return. The state constitution allows for the expulsion of legislators, but that process was only used for the first time in state history last year.
This may be the most difficult topic on this ballot. Measure 114 is intended to decrease gun violence here in Oregon, something we absolutely need. But Measure 114 doesn’t address the causes of gun violence and only barely touches on one of the symptoms. If implemented, Measure 114 would require anyone wishing to buy a gun in Oregon to first obtain a permit. The permit would be contingent on completing a safety course, passing a background check, and getting approval from a law enforcement officer. There are several problems with this approach:
First, we have some elements of this system already in place, but they’re not shifting numbers at all. Most gun transfers in Oregon are already subject to a background check. Measure 114 has been touted as a way to close the so-called Charleston loophole, where dealers can sell a gun after three days if the background check is ‘pended’ or taking too long to complete. It’s tough to say how many gun sales closing this loophole could affect, because there’s a lack of data. However, we do know that pended gun sales in Oregon are typically 3 percent of all sales annually. But around 40 percent of pended background checks are typically completed in three days or fewer and therefore wouldn’t count towards sales made under the loophole. There are also plenty of gun safety courses in Oregon, due to the requirements for concealed-carry permits. If you’re willing to spend money, you can attend a class on only a few hours notice. Under Measure 114, most buyers will still face only short waiting periods, especially if the Oregon State Police department responsible for background checks gets the funding increase they’ve been asking for.
Second, permits are not a particularly effective method of reducing gun violence, especially when adopted on their own. Some experts have suggested that a permitting system could reduce gun violence by more than 25 percent — but that statistic is based on a single study on legal changes in Connecticut in 1995, when that state implemented mandatory permits along with child access prevention laws, an increase in the age limit to purchase a gun, an expansion of who was banned from purchasing guns, and significantly longer waiting periods, all during a period when gun-buying culture was substantially different. Frankly, last year’s law requiring that guns be locked and stored safely will do more for gun safety in Oregon long-term than implementing this approach to permits. Evidence shows over and over again that we need to disrupt patterns of violence on individual and community levels to address gun violence, something that this measure fails to address entirely. With a year-over-year increase of 85 percent in tracked gun sales in 2020 alone, we need an immediate and massive investment in proven methods of reducing gun violence. Experts suggest that Oregon specifically needs to invest in community violence interventions, strengthen victim protections, create a firearm relinquishment law, and raise the minimum age to buy a gun.
Third, law enforcement officials in Oregon have let prior gun control efforts lapse or entirely refused to enforce gun control laws. They’re also notorious for enforcing laws unequally. While there’s not enough space to describe every county sheriff in the state here, OSP has the same entrenched problems demonstrating poor judgment as other Oregon law enforcement agencies, so civil rights experts are concerned that law enforcement officerswould misuse the power to decide who has access to weapons. Even if they were up to the challenge, Measure 114 leaves the question of who may be a danger to themselves or others up to personal judgment, because there’s no standard for who may present a danger to themself or their community, even in clinical settings.
Lastly, the U.S. Supreme Court expanded gun rights dramatically this summer, overturning New York’s gun permitting law. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (whose district includes Oregon) ruled California’s ban on large-capacity magazines unconstitutional in 2020. These rulings suggest that the language in Measure 114 will be deemed unconstitutional if and when cases reach those courts. We’ll definitely get the chance to find out because there are lawyers already planning out lawsuits in the event that Measure 114 passes — perhaps even some of the same lawyers who got Portland’s city-wide ban on loaded guns in public places thrown out for violating Oregon’s state constitution.
Measure 114 also turns owning ammunition magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors wind up often serving as fees rather than discouraging the ‘banned’ behavior (not that Oregon is in a position to prosecute misdemeanors at the moment). Because of the combination of illegal gun sales and carve outs for use on personal property, at shooting ranges, and other lawful activities, anyone wishing to obtain such items will still be able to do so. This misdemeanor will likely only be added on to a stack of other charges rather than as a stand-alone charge. Neither of these changes would have likely made a change in recent mass shootings — open carry will remain legal and police will likely continue either ignoring or citing and releasing certain individuals arrested with weapons. Banning large magazines also does not address self-harm, despite suicide causing 82 percent of gun deaths in Oregon in 2019.
It’s tempting to suggest voting for Measure 114 despite its ineffectiveness. More than one of the supporting organizations has said that if the measure would reduce gun violence at all, it’s worth enacting. But we also need to balance the harm that a bill can potentially do. Otherwise, we’ll be fighting issues created by this measure along with pushing for action that will actually address the problem. Many Oregon voters already struggle to see any value in using legislation to address gun violence. I understand if you interpret all of this data differently and choose to vote for Measure 114 — this is a difficult and emotional topic to analyze.
State Senator — District 13
Woods is running based on his experiences in the U.S. Army, at Xerox, and with a variety of local boards and commissions. His background reflects his priorities, including education, equity, and sustainability. While he’s taken centrist positions on issues like policing and sustainability, Woods took a strong stance to support abortion rights even before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade, including writing op-eds that didn’t even mention his campaign.
State Senator — District 15
Sollman was appointed to the Oregon State Senate in January 2022 to fill the seat when Chuck Riley retired. During both her time as a state representative and now a state senator, Sollman has consistently prioritized education, healthcare, and sustainability. She’s also a Metro Master Recycler, letting her do hands-on work on environmental issues, rather than just sitting behind a desk.
State Senator — District 16
Busch is first and foremost a nurse. Her priorities are all around creating healthy communities. Whether talking about inflation, housing, or childcare, Busch sees connections between issues that even long-term political professionals struggle to identify. It’s worth noting that Busch is running to replace Rachel Armitage, who was appointed to the seat when Betsy Johnson stepped down to focus on campaigning for governor. Busch applied for the appointment, but Johnson successfully pushed commissioners to appoint someone who wasn’t planning to run for the seat, effectively removing any advantage Busch could have had as an incumbent.
State Senator — District 17
Steiner Hayward has the sort of background you want in a legislator during a pandemic: on top of her decade in the Oregon State Senate, her work history includes family physician, director of a cancer education program, and professor at Oregon Health & Science University. She even attempted to strengthen Oregon’s vaccination programs in 2015.
State Senator — District 18
Campos is the youngest member in the Oregon State House and is aiming to be the youngest member in the Oregon State Senate next. With that status comes an impressive level of energy — just during the last legislative session, Campos sponsored or co-sponsored 46 different bills, more than 20 of which became law. She also has plenty of experience on her résumé, including stints as a political organizer for the Oregon Nurses Association and Our Oregon.
State Senator — District 19
Wagner is the majority leader of the Oregon Senate. With his two years in the position, he’ll be the longest tenured member of the state senate leadership when the 2023 session convenes. His institutional knowledge will come in handy.
State Senator — District 20
During his time in the Oregon House of Representatives, Meek used his knowledge as a real estate broker to develop legislation that would reduce discrimination during the house buying process. Meek has consistently prioritized housing, which will likely continue in the state senate.
State Senator — District 24
Jama is the first former refugee, first Muslim, and first Somali-American to serve in the Oregon State Senate. While he only joined the Oregon State Senate in 2021, Jama has already made major headway on improving the State of Oregon’s ability to support immigrants and refugees. With the growing number of refugees coming to the area due to climate change and other reasons, Jama’s expertise is vital to the state legislature.
State Representative — District 18
Smith is focused on school funding — he’s currently a stay-at-home parent and was inspired to run by concerns about his children’s education and his opponent’s efforts to defund public schools. District 18 is expected to remain a Republican stronghold, although redistricting means that Smith can challenge that expectation.
State Representative — District 25
Bowman was the youngest ever member of the Tigard-Tualatin School District board when he was elected as a director in 2019. His day job also keeps him focused on education policy — Bowman is a policy analyst for the Oregon Department of Education. He’ll be able to bring his experience and expertise in education to the state house if elected, as well as some of the energy that has let Bowman operate a regular podcast on Oregon politics while campaigning and working.
State Representative — District 26
Neron taught French and Spanish in Oregon schools for 15 years, ending her teaching career only to become involved in the politics of getting teachers and schools necessary resources. In her first race for the Oregon House in 2018, Neron flipped Oregon House District 26 as the first Democratic winner for the district in 18 years. Neron has worked on legislation making prescription medication less expensive, investing in education, violence prevention, environmental protections, and a host of other issues so far, presenting a stark contrast to her opponent, who is mostly campaigning on preventing toll roads and has discussed little else in interviews.
State Representative — District 27
Helm is campaigning on his accomplishments since initially being elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 2014. It’s a good strategy, given the long list of legislation Helm has worked on, especially around climate change. Redistricting moved Helm from House District 34 to District 27 in 2021. Given that Democratic voters outnumber Republican voters in the new District 27 three to one, Helm’s odds are good in this race.
State Representative — District 28
Grayber spent her first term in the state legislature putting her first responder experience to good use: she worked on legislation to mitigate wildfires, expand the availability of HIV testing and medications, and extending protections for firefighters who develop work-related cancers. But what makes Grayber especially valuable in the state house of representatives is her ability to work across party lines while sticking to her core values.
State Representative — District 29
McLain was first elected to the state legislature in 2014. Before that, she spent 16 years as a councilor for Metro, during a key time in the regional government’s evolution. McLain brings a wealth of institutional knowledge to legislative work. However, McLain’s work on freeway expansions should give voters a moment of pause — it would be great if McLain spent more time looking at alternatives and listening to feedback from local organizers. After you cast a vote for McLain, consider contacting her office to suggest just that.
State Representative — District 30
Sosa took office at the beginning of this year when he was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Janeen Sollman when she was appointed to the Oregon State Senate. In addition to his legislative work, Sosa practices law, did a stint on the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, and is on the board of the Hillsboro School Foundation. That sounds like a packed schedule, but Sosa has already proven capable of keeping up with it. Seeing what Sosa can do when he has more than a single day to prepare for a legislative session will be great.
State Representative — District 31
Technology drives government services these days, but many legislators have only a passing understanding of how apps work. Sorace brings software engineering experience to his race, as well as a long-standing involvement in county politics. With redistricting changing District 31’s political landscape, Sorace is facing a tough election. His focus on healthcare, however, gives him an important edge in the race.
State Representative — District 32
Laity is young (articles and op eds about his campaign routinely mention his ‘energy’ or ‘enthusiasm’). But he can already list significant accomplishments in both community organizing and local politics: he lobbies for legislation to support students, manages the volunteer program for Nehalem Bay’s emergency corps, and sits on the City of Tillamook’s urban renewal advisory board. Laity may be a first-time candidate, but he already understands how to achieve things in Oregon’s political ecosystem.
State Representative — District 33
Dexter won the 2020 election for District 33, but also wound up being appointed to the seat early after Mitch Greenlick’s death. She’s been able to balance her work as a pulmonary physician (including as a member of the team to treat the first COVID-19 case in Oregon) and a legislator, including advocating for effective pandemic response and evidence-based policies. She’s already been tapped to lead the House Housing Committee, so keeping Dexter in the state legislature is well worth the effort.
State Representative — District 34
Reynolds was elected to represent Oregon House District 36 in 2020. After redistricting, Reynolds found herself in the same district as Maxine Dexter. Rather than running against Dexter, who works on similar issues and is also a doctor, Reynolds moved closer to her practice and her patients in House District 34. Reynolds has worked hard on legislation for Oregon residents not in a position to lobby her, showing a willingness to push for policies that are right over those that are easily passed.
State Representative — District 35
Chaichi is running to replace Wlnsvey Campos (since Campos is running for the state senate), with Campos’ endorsement. After six years on the Beaverton Human Rights Advisory Commission, Chaichi approaches housing, healthcare, and other issues from a human rights perspective. That’s certainly something we need more of in the Oregon State Legislature.
State Representative — District 36
Hai Pham is a dentist and much of his prior government experience reflects that: he’s been on the board of the Oregon Dental Association and the Oregon Board of Dentistry. Pham’s focus on healthcare as one of his top issues isn’t unexpected, but his personal experiences have made the issue concrete for Pham. At the age of 27, he was diagnosed with leukemia and faced staggering medical bills. Pham’s combination of expertise and experience makes him a valuable addition to the state legislature.
State Representative — District 37
Walters announced her intention to run shortly after Rachel Prusak shared that she would not be running for reelection, to ensure that Prusak’s work for the district continued. She brings a history full of municipal government experience to the table, culminating with a stint as mayor of West Linn. Walters’ odds are good in this race. Not only has she raised more than three times what her opponent has been able to bring in, but Walters turned out more than 7,000 voters in the Democratic primary despite being unopposed, compared to less than 4,000 voters in the (also unopposed) Republican primary.
State Representative — District 38
Nguyen is best known as the founder of the Bambuza chain of restaurants, but he’s also the first Vietnamese-American city councilor in Lake Oswego. He’s one of several Vietnamese-American candidates on the ballot this year, growing representation for Oregon’s large Vietnamese community. Nguyen took the primary by just 28 votes, but he’ll likely have an easier time in the general election due to District 38 leaning heavily Democratic.
State Representative — District 39
Bynum’s experience as a business owner combined with her legislative work landed her the chair of the House Committee on Economic Development and Small Business earlier this year. Due to redistricting, Bynum is running in District 39, despite being elected to represent District 51 multiple times since 2016. She’s got the name recognition to win in her new district, but she’s a representative to watch, especially given her willingness to take on party leadership.
State Representative — District 40
Hartman is the first known Indigenous member of the Gladstone City Council — a position that has come with some difficulties. But Hartman has done important work on the council while working through those issues, including on racial justice and increasing childcare availability. Hartman will be only the fourth Indigenous legislator in Oregon, despite Oregon’s large Indigenous population. However, Hartman is in a tight race. Over 3,000 Republican voters turned out in the District 40 primary, while only 2,600 Democratic voters returned ballots. Consider supporting Hartman with more than just a vote.
State Representative — District 41
Currently mayor of Milwaukie, Gamba decided to run for the state legislature when Karin Power decided not to run for reelection. During his time in municipal government, Gamba has focused on equity and sustainability, leading the city through higher-level planning like Milwaukie’s Climate Action Plan to implementation details like banning single-use plastic bags. Gamba can be just as effective in the Oregon House of Representatives.
State Representative — District 42
Nosse is a reliably progressive legislator and is the current majority whip of the Oregon House of Representatives. He came out against the effort to reform the Portland city charter, however. Nosse has held his seat since 2014 because Democratic voters outnumber Republican voters more than 18 to one in his district, though, and his reasons for opposing charter reform show less nuance around electoral math than other candidates facing more complicated races. While Nosse is clearly the more progressive candidate in this race and will likely win, residents of District 42 should consider pushing Nosse to keep learning about different approaches to elections.
State Representative — District 43
Sanchez has spent the last five years as the only Indigenous member of Oregon’s state legislature. There’s a good chance that may change with this election, but, in the meanwhile, Sanchez has convinced her fellow legislators to observe Indigenous People’s Day and fund efforts to address the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women. She’s also worked on major legislation around mental health, housing, and voting rights. Sanchez’s efforts were recognized this year when she was appointed the co-leader of the legislature’s joint budget committee.
State Representative — District 44
Nelson took on representing District 44 at the beginning of this year, after Tina Kotek resigned from the seat to focus on her gubernatorial run. He may only have one legislative session under his belt so far, but Nelson has already built on his background as a nurse and a labor organizer. He’s an effective advocate for North Portland and will continue to work for his constituents if reelected.
State Representative — District 45
Tran holds a lot of titles: she’s a doctor of optometry, a lieutenant colonel in the Oregon National Guard, and a trustee of Metropolitan Public Defender. It’s that last title that may make Tran an especially valuable addition to the Oregon House of Representatives. The State of Oregon is facing lawsuits for failing to provide adequate public defense and Tran’s work with public defenders will set her apart in a legislature more used to hearing from judges and administrators.
State Representative — District 46
When she was elected in 2020, Pham became the first Vietnamese-American to serve in Oregon’s state legislature, even though Portland has one of the largest Vietnamese communities in the U.S. She won’t be the only one after this election, but the past two years have shown Pham’s commitment to making real change. Pham isn’t afraid of tackling complex or controversial issues. Her work on resettling Afghan refugees after the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan last year demonstrated Pham’s ability to turn her values into action.
State Representative — District 47
In 2021, Multnohmah County commissioners appointed Valderrama to represent District 47 based on her work as the chair of the David Douglas School Board, as a staffer in Portland’s city government, and as the policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. Since then, Valderrama has been an effective advocate for East Portland, both in the state legislature and in other political arenas.
State Representative — District 48
Education is a key priority for Nguyen; after all, she is an education professional. She’ll add a new perspective to the legislature — while several teachers are in office, Nguyen’s experience as a school attendance specialist with Portland Public Schools and as a student engagement specialist with the Clackamas Education Service District will bring nuance to discussions on how to improve education across the state. She has relevant government experience, too. Nguyen joined the David Douglas School Board in 2021.
State Representative — District 49
Hudson balances politics with a day job, just like many other Oregon legislators. Hudson has taught a variety of grade levels as well as at community colleges, while also serving on Troutdale’s city council. He’s worked on key bills, including the farm worker overtime bill signed into law earlier this year. Hudson is also involved in an effort to put a voting reform measure on the 2024 ballot — something to get excited about after this year’s election is over.
State Representative — District 50
Ruiz’s background in community organizing and working for municipal governments brought him to politics. In 2017, Ruiz joined the Reynolds School District. In 2020, he won election to the state legislature and became assistant house majority leader in 2021. In a second term, Ruiz plans to work more on community safety. Ruiz’s prospects for reelection are relatively good: he’s facing the same opponent he defeated in 2020.
State Representative — District 51
Trandum is a direct care worker and campaign finance reform activist. Trandum has pledged to accept donations only from voters living in District 51. He similarly pledged to accept only small donations from the district during a run in 2016 in the same area, although it was then part of District 52. While Trandum’s campaign may be considered something of a long shot, the changed geography of District 51 means that this race could come down to turnout. As he puts it, “I’m not running against my opponent. I’m running against a system.”
City of Portland
City Commissioner — Position 3
You can tell that an elected official is holding business interests accountable when those businesses interests are willing to put up hundreds of thousands of dollars to elect anyone else (even after using the same tactic during the primary and watching Hardesty win by over 20 percent). But Hardesty has been singularly effective, despite opposition throughout her first term in office. She championed the only effort to actually reduce gun violence in Portland over the last year and fought for the existence of Portland Street Response. Hardesty did all this, by the way, while being targeted by members of the Portland Police Bureau.
The City of Portland is the only large city in the U.S. still using the city commission form of government. It’s an outdated form of government. We have the chance to change our local system of government — and leapfrog a century’s worth of political experiments — to a system that will be more equitable. If passed, the city government will employ a professional city administrator who can cut down on inter-bureau strife, increase the size of the city council to 12 representatives, and implement ranked choice voting. These reforms were developed by residents of Portland who spent almost two years researching options, talking to experts, and developing this ballot measure.
Metro’s main income source for maintaining 18,000 acres of parks, trails, and natural areas is its operating levy. That levy is up for renewal under Measure 26-225. This bond costs property owners $0.096 per $1,000 of assessed property value, so a homeowner with a property assessed at $100,000 would pay $9.60 per year and a homeowner with a property assessed at $500,000 would pay $19.20. The levy will raise about $19.5 million, which would go to operating parks and historic cemeteries, restoring natural habitats, and improving water quality. Given how important these green spaces are to reducing the impact of climate change, this levy offers Portland major benefits at a very low cost.
Portland Community College
Portland Community College is asking voters to approve a new bond expected to raise $450 million over 16 years. The funds will be used to renovate and update buildings across multiple campuses. Among the improvements? Better accessibility, ventilation system upgrades, and expanding technical education facilities. Because past bonds are expiring, passing Measure 26-224 will keep property owners’ taxes stable. This bond costs property owners $0.38 per $1,000 of assessed property value, so a homeowner with a property assessed at $100,000 would pay $38 per year and a homeowner with a property assessed at $500,000 would pay $190.
County Commissioner — Position 2
Forde’s political career started relatively recently with a 2019 appointment to the North Clackamas School Board. Her work there, in addition to working for a youth-focused non-profit, has given Forde opportunities to show that she’s a force-multiplier. She helps other people take action in their communities and finds solutions that work for people with opposing perspectives.
County Commissioner — Position 5
Fischer’s tenure so far has included wildfires, police violence, and a pandemic. Is it any surprise that she’s prioritizing emergency response work, including adding unarmed county-level responders for mental health crises? Another term will give Fischer an opportunity to continue making Clackamas County more resilient.
McMullen is an expert in elections administration and committed to expanding voter access. In her work with Multnomah County’s election division, McMullen launched a long running voter education and outreach program. One key element is the Voter Language Access Program (which produces election resources in multiple languages, hires bilingual election workers, and otherwise ensures voter access for folks who use languages other than English). McMullen can get the Clackamas County election office running smoothly in ways that the incumbent isn’t equipped for or interested in.
Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District
There are no contested CSWCD elections on the November ballot.
The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners referred Measure 3-588 to voters for another vote on the usage of psilocybin mushrooms for mental health treatments. Voting in favor of this measure would create a county ban on psilocybin treatment programs, despite Clackamas County voters approving such programs in 2020 by 52.4 percent. Commissioners and other supporters are describing this ballot measure as a ‘temporary pause’ while the Oregon Health Authority finishes creating rules for how programs will be operated. However, much of the language that county commissioners are using around this ballot measure seems to be focused on opposition to the decriminalization of small amounts of mushrooms in 2020 — which has little to do with how psilocybin is used in a clinical setting.
County Commission Chair
Vega Pederson won the May primary with 41.95 percent of the vote, more than twice that of her opponent in this run-off race. It’s worth noting that if ranked-choice voting was already in use in Multnomah County, this run-off would not be necessary. Most evaluations of this race are focused on housing and homelessness, an area where Vega Pederson’s point-by-point plan gives her an advantage. However, her work on Preschool for All is another argument for her effectiveness: she crafted a plan, built a compromise solution with the backers of a similar measure, saw it passed, and successfully implemented a new program. More than 600 children began preschool this fall as the first Preschool for All cohort and the program is continuing to ramp up.
Multnomah Circuit Court
There are no contested circuit court elections on the November ballot. Check out this explainer on how circuit court elections work.
East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District Director — Zone 3
Guebert is the current EMSWCD director for Zone 3. He retired in 2021 after 20 years with Metro as an environmental specialist and supervisor, with his work focused on Metro’s landfills. Guebert also is the co-owner of a small farm that offers eggs, milk, and meat. His priorities for his next term as a director include building on the Headwaters Farm incubator program and soil restoration.
West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District
There are no contested CSWCD elections on the November ballot.
The Multnomah County Charter Review Committee referred this measure to the ballot to update gendered language in the county charter. If Measure 26-230 passes, the language will be updated to be gender-neutral. Multnomah County Code is already written in gender-neutral language, so this update will eliminate any potential language mismatch between the county charter and county ordinances.
Measure 26-231 was referred to the ballot by the Multnomah County Charter review committee. If it passes, this measure will grant voting rights to county residents who are not U.S. citizens. It would make Multnomah County the only county in Oregon where non-citizens can vote currently, although the State of Oregon allowed non-citizens (provided they were white men) to vote up until 1914, among a series of efforts to tighten voting restrictions (and prevent most people of color from voting). Passing this charter amendment would give everyone who lives in Multnomah County a voice in its operations.
By passing Measure 26-232, Multnomah County will implement ranked-choice voting for county office. This change would make elections for county commissioner, sheriff, and auditor more efficient by eliminating the need for a separate primary and general election. It would also make the results more equitable — ranked-choice voting guarantees that more people see a candidate they support in office and removes the chance that a spoiler can dictate the outcome of an election.
Currently, Multnomah County commissioners are required to inspect the two jails the county operates once per term. If Measure 26-233 passes, commissioners would be required to conduct at least one additional inspection each term and to include volunteer members of the public to participate in the process. Given the long–running issues at both county jails (and the problems inherent in incarceration), a second inspection is the absolute least county commissioners can do. Including more members of the public in the process will bring a little more transparency to the process. However, this move is only the start. The most recent audit of the Multnomah County jail recommended the creation of an independent review body for jail operations, which would provide oversight in between the occasional commissioner’s inspection.
Measure 26-234 will, if passed, update the Multnomah County Charter to create an ombudsperson function within the county auditor’s office. Such an ombudsperson would act as a public advocate, by investigating county residents’ complaints about county actions (excluding violations of personnel rules, complaints of discrimination by employees, matters currently in litigation, and matter covered by collective bargaining agreements). The auditor’s office already operates a good government hotline and independently reviews a variety of county work, Measure 26-234 would give the county auditor’s office another tool to do its existing work.
Another charter amendment intended to make the Multnomah County auditor’s office more effective, Measure 26-235 would guarantee the county auditor’s access to information necessary to conduct audits. Currently, the county charter does not guarantee the auditor’s access to such information. Multnomah County Auditor Jennifer McGuirk specifically requested the charter review committee consider adding this language to bring the county into compliance with auditing best practices.
Measure 26-236 covers the Multnomah County Charter Review process. Participants in the process found it to be too short to complete necessary work, so the measure will extend the process in the future if passed. The measure also incorporates changes to the application and membership processes, based on requests from the county’s office for community involvement, which manages its charter reviews.
Tualatin Soil & Water Conservation District — Zone 4
Duren is a vegetation ecologist who has worked for The Freshwater Trust for the past seven years. She’s now their restoration program manager, but has also done work analyzing river ecosystems. Duren previously served on the Oregon Invasive Species Council and volunteered her experience with a variety of restoration and preservation sites.
Tualatin Soil & Water Conservation District — Zone 5
Dimeo-Ediger is the director of K-12 educational programs with the Oregon Forest Resources Institute and has over 30 years of experience with ecological education. Dimeo-Ediger’s work with the Oregon Forest Resources Institute does create some questions: OFRI prioritizes improving the production of Oregon’s forests, which can run counter to conservation efforts. However, her focus on sustainable solutions gives her an edge over an opponent who also has worked in the timber industry.
Beaverton School District
This measure renews an existing levy to fund Beaverton schools, which covers the salaries of 286 teachers in the Beaverton School District. This levy costs property owners $1.25 per $1,000 of assessed property value, so a homeowner with a property assessed at $100,000 would pay $125 per year and a homeowner with a property assessed at $500,000 would pay $625. Failure to pass this measure would require the Beaverton School District to fire 286 teachers. The levy has been renewed twice and, if passed, would need to be renewed again in 2027.
David Douglas School District
The David Douglas School District sent Measure 26-227 to the ballot to create a new bond to repair and upgrade every school in the district. Perhaps one of the most important upgrades long-term are plans to improve HVAC systems at multiple schools, which will help prevent COVID-19 transmission. The total expected to be raised by the new bond is $141 million, with an additional $8 million to be contributed by the State of Oregon. This bond would cost property owners around $0.88 per $1,000 of assessed property value, so a homeowner with a property assessed at $100,000 would pay $88 per year and a homeowner with a property assessed at $500,000 would pay $440. However, the exact costs will depend on future interest rates. The school district initially intended to send a larger bond measure to voters in May, but reassessed their plans due to changing economic conditions, including rising costs.
Parkrose School District
The Parkrose School Districts expects a budget shortfall of over $3 million for the 2023–2024 school year. In order to cover some of that funding shortage, the district is sending Measure 26-229 to voters. If this measure doesn’t pass, the Parkrose School District will need to eliminate 26 teachers to make its budget work — that’s almost 12 percent of their current staff. The levy would cost property owners up to $1.00 per $1,000 of assessed property value, so a homeowner with a property assessed at $100,000 would pay $100 per year and a homeowner with a property assessed at $500,000 would pay $500. This levy will raise approximately $2 million, so even if the levy passes, it will only cover 22 of the at-risk teaching positions, along with maintaining other services and meeting a new state requirement for physical education.
First, a few housekeeping details:
- Races without recommendations are not listed in this guide. That includes both races with only one candidate and races where no candidate stands out as a good choice.
- Recommendations are not necessarily enthusiastic. While recommended candidates are better than the alternatives, the very nature of how we conduct elections limits participation. There are plenty of races where the best candidate is still likely to cause harm.
- Only ballot measures that directly impact Portland residents are included. Residents of Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas Counties who live in other municipalities or in unincorporated areas should expect to see more measures on your ballots.
When creating this voters’ guide, I started by collecting as much information about each candidate as possible into a centralized spreadsheet so I could do some direct comparisons around details like endorsers, fundraising, and key issues. Resources that were especially helpful include Ballotpedia, Portland Record’s Campaign Funderator, and Open States. I also constructed a media log of mentions of different candidates, focused on media published after September 2021.
I looked for key characteristics that correspond to effective governance, most of which aren’t easily measurable: a commitment to transparency, the ability to work with and prioritize marginalized communities, a willingness to use evidence-based strategies, and a track record of completing projects requiring coordination with multiple communities. Wherever possible, I tried to recommend candidates focused on improving circumstances for all Portland residents — not just their immediate constituents, people eligible to vote, or people like themselves.
Just about every candidate recommended above is prioritizing action around affordable housing and homelessness, as well as climate change and the pandemic. Their approaches to each issue differ dramatically and I’ve linked to recommended candidates’ websites so you can check out what they’ve shared about their approach.
If you’re curious about why I’ve chosen to not recommend a given candidate, reasons may include:
- actively promotes conspiracy theories (including regarding the results of the 2020 election)
- a candidate is unopposed (or functionally unopposed, in some cases where a second candidate may have registered to run but has not actively campaigned)
- has done clear harm to either individuals or communities and has refused to participate in accountability processes
- demonstrates a lack of understanding about the powers and duties of the position they want (for instance, campaigning for a Congressional seat on issues decided by local school boards)
In the event new information becomes available before the end of voting on November 8, I’ll update recommendations here and flag any changes. In my experience, new reporting often comes out in between the dates when ballots are mailed out and when they’re due back.
Please keep an eye out for more in-depth articles on individual races and issues in the next few weeks if you’re interested in the reasoning behind specific recommendations. I’ll add links to this guide as they become available.