Voters’ Guide — May 2022 Election

If you’re a voter in or around Portland, you may have already received your ballot for the May election. If you’re ready to sit down and vote, here are some recommendations on candidates and ballot measures.

This guide is intentionally surface-level: over the election period, I’ll be publishing articles on specific races and issues that get deeper into the reasons behind many of these recommendations. As those articles go up, I’ll add links within this guide for any voter who wants to go into more depth. 

If you’re curious about the constraints and considerations behind these recommendations, there’s an explanation of the process at the bottom of this guide.

Federal Offices

US Senator 

Democratic Primary: Ron Wyden

Wyden has held the office since 1996. While normally an entrenched official isn’t good 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 and with comparatively little financial gain. Furthermore, the alternatives in the Democratic primary are lackluster.

Republican Primary: Sam Palmer

The likelihood of any new candidate doing well against someone who has been in the same office for over 25 years is low. As a result, most of the candidates in the Republican primary are difficult to take seriously. Palmer is the best choice of the group — he believes COVID-19 is real and advocates for vaccination. Palmer also has worked 10 seasons fighting wildfires, plus has actually served on multiple commissions and committees in both county and state government.

US Representative — District 1

Democratic Primary: Suzanne Bonamici

Bonamici has held her seat for a decade and has seen reasonable success on education issues. Neither of her opponents has managed much in the way of media coverage or fundraising. At least one of those opponents has proposed removing money from politics (and isn’t taking donations), which is appealing, but doesn’t have a strategy for passing legislation ending corporate campaign donations.

US Representative — District 3

Democratic Primary: Earl Blumenauer

Blumenauer has represented Oregon in Congress since 1996. He’s solidly on the left and has seniority necessary for holding useful committee seats. He’s facing one challenger in the primary, who keeps talking about the importance of moving the U.S. further left — but holds positions that seem more centrist than many of Blumenauer’s.

US Representative — District 5

Democratic Primary: Jamie McLeod-Skinner

Incumbent Kurt Schrader routinely acts against the interests of his constituents and focuses on his own benefit. But even if Schrader didn’t make it easy to support any challenger, McLeod-Skinner is a solid choice in her own right. She’s refused money from corporate PACs (who donated more than half of Schrader’s funds) and has support from both on-the-ground organizers and unions.

US Representative — District 6

Democratic Primary: Teresa Alonso Leon

Alonso Leon worked hard to get overtime for farmworkers in Oregon, both on the legislation passed earlier this year and previous legislative efforts. She understands the mechanics of government and prioritizes people over corporate interests — characteristics few other candidates in this race have demonstrated. 

State Offices


Democratic Primary: Tina Kotek

Making a recommendation in this race is particularly difficult — there are over a dozen candidates, but only two people on that long list really have a chance of winning the primary — Kotek and Tobias Read. Both of those people have long histories of holding state-level office, raise money effectively, and get plenty of media mentions. The real deciding factor is who will be best able to compete against Betsy Johnson in November: Kotek seems better positioned to differentiate herself from Johnson’s centrist positioning (though Kotek is in no way a guaranteed win). 

Republican Primary: Jessica Gomez

There are even more Republican candidates for governor than Democrats this year — it’s been 35 years since Oregon had a Republican governor and a lot of folks seem to think this is the year. However, there’s no clear leader of the pack. Gomez’s proposed policies tend towards practicality and she really stands out for refusing to support conspiracy theories around the results of the 2020 election.

State Senator

Senate District 13

Democratic primary: Aaron Woods

Voters in Senate District 13 are lucky — either Woods or Chelsea King would be effective state senators. They’re even involved in community groups together! Woods is the better option because of small differences. First, his plans for key priorities (like implementing affordable high-speed internet) are more fleshed out. Second, Woods’ endorsements and community involvement show that he’s built connections with different communities in different ways, implying he’ll be able to advocate effectively for constituents with differing needs. 

Senate District 18

Democratic primary: Wlnsvey Campos

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 resume, including stints as a political organizer for the Oregon Nurses Association and Our Oregon.

State Representative

House District 27

Democratic primary: Ken Helm

While challenger Tammy Carpenter has positioned herself as further left than Helm, his legislative record shows a dedication to climate issues that would be difficult to replace in the state legislature. Helm’s other priorities line up with Carpenter’s, including expanding healthcare, so his experience in the legislature tips the scales in his favor.

House District 28

Republican primary: Patrick Castles

Castles is focused on accountability and transparency, especially around the state budget. His strategies for managing many problems facing Oregon could come straight out of an old-school Republican handbook, but his criticisms of current policies are relatable across party lines. For instance, Castles sees issues around state efforts to slow climate change as questions of effectiveness and money management, rather than a question of whether climate change exists. 

House District 38

Democratic primary: Neelam Gupta

Bringing Gupta’s experience into the state legislature would benefit both her direct constituents as well as the rest of the state. She’s worked at the Oregon Health Authority throughout the pandemic, as well as on programs that have created supportive housing and anti-racism efforts in public schools. Gupta already has experience with some of the most complicated policy areas the state legislature deals with, which would let her focus on action. 

House District 40

Democratic primary: Annessa Hartman

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. One aspect of Hartman’s campaign that really stands out? Her Youth Advisory Board, where younger volunteers can take a leadership role and advise Hartman on relevant issues.

House District 41

Democratic primary: Kaliko Castille

Despite the state legislature’s role in cannabis policy, few members have worked in the industry. Castille could change that by bringing in a decade of experience in the cannabis industry and reform movement. He also has long ties to the area and personal experience with gentrification and other forms of exclusion that inform his political priorities. Castille’s experiences also match the future of the district, where almost half of high school students are now students of color.

House District 45

Democratic primary: Catherine Thomasson

Both Thomasson and Thuy Tran, the other candidate in this race, are doctors who see climate change and housing affordability as key issues. While both could be good additions to the state legislature, Thomasson’s willingness to support the removal of police from Portland Public Schools in 2020 — something that students asked for multiple times — shows an ability to listen to people, no matter their age or electoral power.

Commissioner of the Bureau for Labor and Industries

Nonpartisan election: Christina Stephenson

Stephenson’s legal practice focuses on workers’ rights and, 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.

State Judiciary

Judge of the Court of Appeals, Position 3

Nonpartisan election: Darleen Ortega

Ortega is facing a rare challenger in a judicial race, despite competence as a judge (and a theater critic). Her challenger is best known for being suspended from his duties as a circuit court judge for a long list of concerning issues, any one of which would be concerning in a judge sitting on the Oregon Court of Appeals.

Circuit Courts

There are no contested circuit judicial elections on the May ballot. However, here’s an article explaining how circuit court elections work.

District Attorney, Washington County

Nonpartisan election: Brian Decker

Washington County’s incumbent DA is a problem: he’s racially discriminated against prospective jurors, demonized Portland, and taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from a single donor. In contrast, Decker is a former public defender focused on reform, transparency, and restorative justice


Clackamas County Commissioner, Position 2

Nonpartisan election: Libra Forde

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.

Clackamas County Commissioner, Position 5

Nonpartisan election: Sonya Fischer

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. 

Multnomah County Commissioner Chair

Nonpartisan election: Jessica Vega Pederson

Three current Multnomah County commissioners are running for the chair’s seat, including Vega Pederson. Their pitches for improving access to housing, jail management, and other county responsibilities all build on the commission’s work over the past several years. They also overlap quite a bit, although there are some nuances in each candidate’s plans. Where Vega Pederson stands out, though, is her work on Preschool for All: she crafted a plan, built a compromise solution with the backers of a similar measure, saw it passed, and successfully implemented a new program. Preschool for All is currently taking applicants for its first cohort of preschoolers.

For more context on this race, check out Bronwyn Carver’s article on how candidates for commission chair want to approach our housing crisis.

Multnomah County Commissioner

Nonpartisan election: Susheela Jayapal

Jayapal is running for reelection. As the commissioner representing North and Northeast Portland, she’s worked on a broad range of issues, from advocating for survivors of domestic and sexual violence to reducing wood smoke (a leading air pollutant in Multnomah County). Jayapal should have a chance to continue that work — especially since every other Multnomah County commissioner is running for the chair’s seat.

Multnomah County Auditor

This race is uncontested. For more on auditor elections, including the impact of uncontested elections, here’s a longer look at auditor elections.

Washington County Commission Chair

Because the race for this seat is more complicated than usual, read F.I. Goldhaber’s deep dive on the context around both candidates running to chair the Washington County Commission before making your decision. F.I. is also writing updates on their blog as they come up.

Washington County Commissioner, District 2

Nonpartisan election: Pam Treece

Treece has gathered a broad swath of institutional support for her reelection. Her work on Washington County’s new equity charter has showcased Treece’s willingness to work with different community partners to improve long-term outcomes for the county.

For a deeper explanation of this race, check out this article about both candidates running for the District 2 seat on the Washington County Commission.

Washington County Auditor

Nonpartisan election: Kristine Adams-Wannberg

Adams-Wannberg already works as a principal management auditor in the Washington County Auditor’s Office and she’s ready to lead the team. Washington County is lucky to have her experience — and willingness to work on audits for other organizations. Adams-Wannberg volunteers as a member of audit committees for the City of Hillsboro, Metro, Portland Community College, and the Oregon Department of Revenue, giving her knowledge about how the county fits into the bigger picture. She also shares her knowledge with other auditors.

If you’re interested in the reasoning behind this recommendation, check out this longer look at auditor elections.

City of Portland


Nonpartisan election: Simone Rede

Rede is an experienced auditor who understands the nuances of how performance audits can improve equity. She’s conducted audits on everything from child care in Oregon to the Oregon Zoo. Rede is also campaigning on making the Portland auditor’s office more transparent, a crucial move considering the office has oversight of city elections, campaign finances, police accountability, and a variety of other responsibilities beyond just conducting audits.

If you’re interested in the reasoning behind this recommendation, check out this longer look at auditor elections.

Commissioner, Position 2

Nonpartisan election: AJ McCreary

McCreary’s credentials are impressive: as the founder of Equitable Giving Circle, she’s grown a new organization and a new model of community support from zero to fully operational in just two years (raising $4 million in cash and in-kind donations along the way). But what makes McCreary the right choice is her ability to look at a problem and prioritize action. Consider Mxm Bloc (McCreary is a member) and how they handled Portland Public Schools suspending food delivery in 2020 — while others were trying to get PPS to resume service, Mxm Bloc packed meals and fed more than 500 families.

Commissioner, Position 3

Nonpartisan election: Jo Ann Hardesty

You can tell that an elected official is holding business interests accountable when they’re willing to put up hundreds of thousands of dollars to elect anyone else. But Hardesty has been singularly effective, despite opposition from other members of Portland’s city government. 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.


For more information on Metro and how it fits into regional politics, here’s a longer look at Metro’s functions, leadership, and history.

Council President

Nonpartisan election: Lynn Peterson

Every Metro candidate is facing the same question right now: How is Metro improving homeless services right now? After all, Metro’s 2020 ballot measure promised to provide supportive housing for 5,000 households and stabilize 10,000 more households over ten years, if voters provided Metro with $250 million. Peterson has overseen implementation of those plans, which have arguably housed at least 2,000 people. There’s a lot of criticism of both Metro’s efforts in general and Peterson’s work in specific, but most of the critiques come from sources more interested in growing businesses than providing housing. Since those sources aren’t providing affordable housing or supportive services, sticking with the person with the skills and knowledge to continue rolling out Metro’s supportive services makes sense.

Councilor, District 2

Nonpartisan election: Christine Lewis

Lewis’s work to bring Clackamas County more affordable housing and green spaces has already paid off. Voters can likely expect similar efforts if Lewis is reelected, as well as ensuring access to the knowledge Lewis brings to Metro about the way agencies like the Bureau of Labor and Industries work

Councilor, District 4

Nonpartisan election: Juan Carlos González

In his first term on the Metro Council, González prioritized affordable housing, transportation planning, and responding to climate change. He’s an adept advocate for immigrant communities, as well as for Washington County’s participation in the Metro Council.

Councilor, District 6

Nonpartisan election: Duncan Hwang

Hwang was appointed to the Metro Council at the beginning of 2022 to replace Bob Stacey through 2023. Hwang is now running to complete the rest of Stacey’s term (which runs through 2025). He’s the co-executive director of APANO and, through that work, started working on issues related to transportation and immigration long before joining the Metro Council.


This race is uncontested. For more on auditor elections, including the impact of uncontested elections, here’s a longer look at auditor elections.

Ballot Measures

34-310 — Replacement Local Option Levy to Maintain Enhanced Washington County Sheriff, Police Response

Ballot measure: No

Washington County uses an enhanced service district levy to fund sheriff and police services for certain areas within the community. That levy is up for renewal this year, with an increase of 15 cents. Property owners will pay 83 cents per $1,000 of assessed value (or $249 for a property assessed at $300,000) if the levy is renewed. There are a variety of concerns about the Washington County Sheriff’s Office: just the past two years have seen  settlements for police violence, retaliation against employees for sharing accurate statistics, paying salaries to deputies who haven’t been on active duty for almost two years, and lawsuits about whether officers should be on the county’s Brady List. While policing enthusiasts have generally endorsed the renewal, even its supporters have concerns that the levy is not a sustainable method of funding public services. Given how much of the department’s budget goes to settling lawsuits and paying for officers who aren’t on active duty, it’s time for a new approach.

34-313 — Beaverton School District 48J Bonds to Repair, Rebuild Schools

Ballot measure: Yes

The Beaverton School District is asking voters to approve a $723 million bond. Their last bond measure was passed in 2014. The new measure will focus on deferred maintenance, infrastructure upgrades (including a major remodel of Beaverton High School), and seismic retrofitting. If passed, property owners in the Beaverton School District will pay 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. For a property assessed at $300,000, owners could expect a tax increase of $75.

34-314 — Referendum on Washington County Ordinance 878 Regulating Tobacco Products

Ballot measure: No

The Washington County Board of Commissioners banned flavored tobacco and vaping products in late 2021. While the ban went into effect in 2022, petitioners led by Jonathan Polonsky (who is also the CEO of Plaid Pantry) gathered enough signatures to pause the ban and send a referendum to the May ballot. The ban will only go back into effect if a majority of voters say no to the referendum. While the goal of the ban is to limit youth access to tobacco products, there are concerns that a county-level ban may not be the most effective strategy. But since Washington County is the first Oregon county to experiment with banning a tobacco product, upholding the ban is a valuable opportunity to gather data about the strategy. 

Recommendation Considerations

First, a few housekeeping details:

  • Races without recommendations are not listed in this guide. That includes both races with only one candidate as well as races where no candidate stands out as a good choice. 
  • Races are labeled as Democratic, Republican, or nonpartisan. While some of the nonpartisan elections will be complete after May 17, some nonpartisan races function as primaries. Generally speaking, nonpartisan races where no candidate receives at least 50% of votes will proceed to the general election in November.
  • Democratic and Republican primaries are closed primaries. If you aren’t registered with one of these two parties, your ballot will only include nonpartisan races.
  • 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 May 17, 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.

Updated after publication. Previous versions of this guide are available on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.


  • I have removed the original recommendation for the House District 35 Democratic primary after receiving information about the recommended candidate committing serious harm towards another person.
  • I have added links to contextual articles about uncontested races and races with minimal public attention.

By Thursday Bram

Thursday Bram founded PDX.Vote after making numerous zines, newsletters, and other media about politics in Portland, Oregon. Thursday has also written for publications ranging from to Entrepreneur Magazine. You can find more of Thursday's work at