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Eugene Weekly : 05.06.04

Endorsements 2004

May primary picks for national, state and local races

Below are EW's endorsements for the May Primary. Not all races are discussed since many are uncontested in the primary, and we've given focus and extra space to some of the races that we think are particularly important, or have not gotten much attention. Ballots are due at the county elections department by May 18. It's too late to register for this election, but if you are registered, please take the time to study these important candidate choices — and vote!

John Kerry

U.S. President

John Kerry (D)

We listen to those activist Democrats and respected friends of EW who urge us to endorse Kucinich, not Kerry, in the Oregon primary. But we can't do it. The defeat of George Bush is so critical to the kids and grandkids of this country and, indeed, the world, that a unity virtually alien to Democrats is essential this time. Kerry, with all his imperfections, has fought for and secured the nomination. He can only win the presidency if all of us work harder than we've ever worked in electoral politics to defeat the Republican grassroots organization already growing in Oregon and the rest of the country. That's what we endorse — the urgency and unity it will take to defeat George Bush and elect John Kerry.

 

Secretary of State

Bill Bradbury (D),

Fred Granum (R)

Incumbent Bill Bradbury was an effective state lawmaker and consensus builder and has served Oregon well as secretary of state. Bradbury's one of the stars of Oregon politics and deserves re-election. His Democratic opponent Paul Damien Wells has no prior government experience and little to offer in meeting the demands of this important state job as head of elections, audits and record keeping. On the R side, business executive and entrepreneur Fred Granum appears to be the best qualified candidate to oversee the auditing and efficiency elements of the position.

 

VOTE

Primary Election

May 18, 2004


Endorsements at a Glance

A quick look at EW's picks for the May 18 Primary Election. Unopposed candidates are not included.

U.S. President

John Kerry (D)

Secretary of State

Bill Bradbury (D),

Fred Granum (R)

House District 7

Shirley Cairns (D)

House District 8

Paul Holvey (D)

Judge, Supreme Court, 4

Rives Kistler

Judge, Supreme Court Position 7

William Riggs

Judge, Court of Appeals Position 7

Robert Wollheim

Lane County Commission, Position 4

Greg Ringer

Lane County Commission, Position 5

Don Hampton

Lane County Sheriff

Russel Burger

Mayor of Eugene

Kitty Piercy

Eugene City Council, Ward 1

Bonny Bettman

Eugene City Council, Ward 2

Betty Taylor

Eugene City Council, Ward 7

Andrea Ortiz

EWEB, Wards 1 & 8 Position

John Simpson

House District 7

Shirley Cairns (D)

Republican Bruce Hannah was recently appointed to fill the District 7 seat left vacant when Jeff Kruse left to run for a Senate position. Democrats need to pick a strong candidate to run against Hannah in the fall. Our choice is Shirley Cairns over Greg Thorne. Cairns, with her 40 years of civic involvement in Douglas County, is likely to enjoy more name recognition in November. Any Democrat who hopes to win in this conservative district is going to have to appeal to the middle ground, but Thorne goes too far when he declares, "Land use laws are a waste of tax dollars" (LWV Voters' Guide).

 

Paul Holvey

House District 8

Paul Holvey (D)

We've always liked Mitzi Colbath's high energy, determination and ability to get things done on the community level. We encouraged her to run for the open City Council position being vacated by Nancy Nathanson. We think she could have been a strong contender against Chris Pryor. But now Pryor is running unopposed and an opportunity to gain a progressive vote on the council is lost, along with the lively debate that could have happened in Council Ward 8. Colbath's bowing out of the Democratic Party to become more "non-partisan" in a council race backfired when it prevented her from seeking the District 8 appointment after Floyd Prozanski moved to the Senate. Now she is seeking to unseat a proven and progressive Democrat.

Paul Holvey was appointed to the position in January, is performing very well by all reports we hear, and has been named to the important House Business and Commerce Committee. Holvey is knowledgeable, active and effective on issues of labor, business, education and the environment. He's advocated for living wage and labor standards, along with full disclosure and accountability for businesses getting tax breaks. He knows forestry issues, appreciates the folly in unsustainable sprawl and supports "green" building. In short, there's no good reason to give Holvey the boot.

The third D running for District 8 is Hart Williams, who somehow got left out of the Voters' Pamphlet. Williams is solid on land use, tax reform and government accountability, but has not mounted an aggressive campaign.

 

Judge, Supreme Court, 4

Rives Kistler

Incumbent Judge Rives Kistler is being challenged by attorney James Leuenberger, and it's really no contest. Kistler has impeccable academic credentials and a strong record of dedicated service on the Supreme Court as well as the Court of Appeals and the state Department of Justice. Leuenberger, a recent transplant from Idaho, has little experience on the bench and it's obvious he's running on an ultra-conservative agenda. Leuenberger has been associated with Lon Mabon and the Oregon Citizens Alliance, an avowed anti-gay organization. Kistler is perhaps the only openly gay supreme court judge in the country. Leuenberger is critical of judicial power "subversion" and makes a point of being a devout Christian and a family man.

 

 

Judge, Supreme Court Position 7

William Riggs

Again, we have a hardworking distinguished jurist, William Riggs, being challenged by a significantly less qualified candidate, in this case, 6th District Circuit Court Judge Rudy Murgo. There's no reason to bump Riggs out of office.

 

 

Judge, Court of Appeals Position 7

Robert Wollheim

Robert Wollheim has served Oregon well as a careful and compassionate judge on the Court of Appeals since 1998. He carries on well Oregon's tradition of intelligent, impartial judges. His challenger, Phil Brockett, is an attorney and former CIA officer who's only been a member of the Oregon Bar for the past two years.

 

 

Lane County Commission, Position 4

Greg Ringer

Any challenger for county commission in north Lane County faces a very tough race, with longtime incumbent Bobby Green Sr. deeply established as a leader in the area and on the Board of County Commissioners.

But we have hope for newcomer Greg Ringer, local community planner and university educator with "20 years [experience] enabling local, regional and national governments," he says. Ringer is undaunted by the incumbent and feels north Lane County may be ready for an alternative. "I entered the county race for reasons both personal and professional. … I did so because the electoral process benefits from a meaningful exchange of ideas and a choice of candidates. I also desire to challenge those who made the term 'progressive' a pejorative in our community, and remind voters instead of the true meaning of the word — to be farsighted and forward thinking. A progressive leader considers the needs of the entire county, rather than select individuals and industries in the decision-making process," Ringer says.

In an April 18 R-G article, Green said the financial stability of the county is his No. 1 priority. Ringer defines his priorities as: fiscal stability; affordable recreational opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents; and environmental protection.

In terms of how his approach and philosophy differ from those of Green, Ringer says, "Where I differ most from Green philosophically is my recognition that economic development and ecological protection are inseparable. We cannot have a healthy economy without a healthy environment (in fact, the success of my own business depends on the satisfaction of both objectives)."

Ringer also disagrees with funding public safety programs by eliminating essential social, environmental and recreational services. Instead, he supports the Board's decision to reduce County spending by 9 percent across the board, so that Lane County can retain some level of access for residents who depend on these programs.

In the past four years, Ringer notes that his opponent fought to turn community farms into sand and gravel pits, advocated expanding the urban growth boundary to annex more property, and nearly doubled his salary to $70,000, or twice the median wage in Lane County.

"Yet," Ringer says, "15 percent of our residents continue to live in poverty; 8 percent of our workers are unemployed, and our economic development strategy lacks imagination and a coherent vision. We publicly subsidize corporate relocations and energy-consumptive business practices, while we marginalize local business owners and workers, and ignore the attractiveness of Lane County's 'green' reputation for meaningful, long-term job creation and environmental conservation."

Ringer finds it even more troubling that Lane County faces a $4 million budget shortfall this fiscal year, and commissioners must now make difficult choices about which functions county government will provide. He says, "Because of repeated voter opposition to additional taxes, Commissioner Green argues that we must eliminate essential social, environmental and recreational services to maintain public safety alone. I believe otherwise … [recognizing] that our county parks, social programs, and planning services are as critical to our community's public health as are the number of deputies or jail beds we have available."

We like what Ringer has to say and the alternatives he's proposing to the status quo. For these reasons, we endorse Ringer.

 

Don Hampton

Lane County Commission, Position 5

Don Hampton

Don Hampton's appointment last summer to the east Lane County vacancy left by commissioner-turned-UO-law-professor Tom Lininger was a smart choice. An even smarter choice is to keep Hampton on the job.

Hampton is a commissioner who understands how good, old-fashioned common sense intersects with things like managing urban growth and protecting prime farmland. "He wants to build smarter, not bigger," says County Commissioner Bill Dwyer. It is this combination that speaks both to the needs of his largely rural constituency and to those non-ruralites in Lane County opposed to sprawl and big box store syndrome.

Hampton supports family wage jobs; better law enforcement; low property taxes; lean, balanced budgets; preservation of senior, veteran, abused children and rural clinic services; balanced land use policy that respects private property rights, rural identity and natural resources. Don Hampton is the only logical choice for Position 5.

 

Lane County Sheriff

Russel Burger

Sheriff Jan Clements might have caught a couple of people by surprise when he decided not to run for reelection this year. Had there been more notice, we might know more about sheriff candidates like Louis Gomez, chief of police in Oakridge. We like what Gomez has to say so far, and are interested in his approach to the sheriff's position. But for this particular election, EW endorses Russ Burger.

Burger seems to have the clearest understanding of the sheriff's position from both the law enforcement and corrections perspective. He is also familiar with the budgetary constraints, and was actually brought in by Clements because of his ability and willingness to work with a wide range of law enforcement agencies.

 

Kitty Piercy

Mayor of Eugene

Kitty Piercy

Kitty Piercy enjoys broad support in Eugene. Her years as a teacher, state legislator and leader of many civic organizations make her a natural for the job of mayor. Citing her position on a roundtable that includes both business-oriented Lane Metro Partnership and environmental group 1000 Friends of Oregon, Piercy says she's qualified to bring all types of people of varying viewpoints together to discuss issues, reach compromise, and move forward.

Piercy's opponent, Nancy Nathanson, has a track record from her years as city councilor that documents her positions on the issues. While she's been an advocate for neighborhood parks, many of her positions clearly follow a pro-growth, pro-sprawl agenda. She is backed by the Chamber of Commerce and developers who stand to profit from the West Eugene Parkway and expansion of the urban growth boundary.

Nathanson says she likes to move quickly in deciding on issues, move forward and get things done. That translates to a record poor on fairness, first for a record of closed meetings and lack of public input, and second, Nathanson only moves forward quickly when the agenda is conservative. On progressive matters, such as the renaming of Centennial to MLK Jr. Boulevard, Nathanson has actually called for more discussions, more hearings, i.e., more process, before making a decision.

Piercy points to her experience as state legislator in her willingness to listen to all points of view, to have an open door, and to reach compromise on the tough issues.

On poverty, Piercy and Nathanson differ on the living wage issue. At the City Club debate April 30, Nathanson said she has a common sense approach, and questioned where the money was to have come from for raising the wage of certain city employees to between $11 and $14 per hour. Approximately $300,000 was needed.

Here's where: During the time of the living wage debate, $200,000 was proposed for parks and open space, another $50,000 for a downtown vision plan, and Nathanson pushed for $60,000 to $90,000 of city funds for underground telephone wires to be placed along only three blocks' worth of property. Clearly, Nathanson can find the money — when her priorities are at stake.

Piercy is the only one of the two to have crafted an economic plan that includes a vision for sustainable growth and jobs creation. She proposes initiatives to revitalize downtown, create affordable housing, and backs a proposed survey of all industrial/commercial lands in Eugene/Springfield.

Piercy wants to ensure sustainable growth that leads to the creation of sustainable jobs. Nathanson supports Hynix and Wal-Mart.

Piercy and Nathanson differ broadly on education. Nathanson says it's not the mayor's job to be president of the school board; Piercy says good schools are a top priority in attracting businesses, and a sign of a healthy community for everyone.

A city-school partnership, such as the successful school levy that was backed by Mayor Torrey, is needed in tough economic times to make sure we don't sell out our children for the sake of corporate tax breaks.

Piercy also prioritizes essential services and has been endorsed by the Eugene Firefighters. She is supported by a broad array of labor, environmental and human rights organizations, for her work on minimum wage and living wage legislation, schools, and toxics right to know initiatives. She is endorsed by numerous businesses.

Organizations endorsing Piercy include the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Lane County Labor Council, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 75, Local 1724 and Local 2831, the Lane, Coos, Curry, and Douglas Building Trades Council, the Bus Project, Lane, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon and many others.

Eugene deserves a mayor with a true vision for our community, one with a solid record of accessibility and compromise, who knows the strength of a community lies in the support of its children, its families, and its businesses, for now and in the future.

 

Bonny Bettman

Eugene City Council, Ward 1

Bonny Bettman

Incumbent Ward 1 City Councilor Bonny Bettman first ran for council in 2000. "I didn't feel there was another viable candidate," she says. Since then, she has shown consistent commitment to progressive causes. Bettman's voting record shows she's strong on the environment, labor, schools, jobs and common sense.

Bettman, a Democrat, has enjoyed strong support in her ward. Even though Ward 1 was recently and radically redrawn under partisan pressure after the census figures came in, splitting the majority of democratic voters into three different wards in hopes of preventing a progressive council majority, Bettman clearly has the support of the majority of her central Eugene ward.

Bettman's Republican challenger, real estate broker Tom Slocum, participated in the Ward 1 redistricting hearings. Now, Slocum says Bettman is "sandwiched in" to her ward and doesn't represent the majority of its residents. But that's not true.

Of her constituents in the ward today, 65 percent opposed the West Eugene Parkway. The school levy, which Bettman helped craft and campaign for, passed overwhelmingly. Seventy-four percent were in favor of Measure 30 and they also approved of the new fire station. "Those were all initiatives and issues I was staunchly in favor of and working for," says Bettman. "I'm consistent with their values. If I thought I didn't have the support I enjoy, then I'd have no business running."

From securing funding for street repairs to crafting the school levy, from leading the initiatives to rename Centennial to MLK Jr. Boulevard, and the city's defiance of the USA PATRIOT Act, to finding creative ways to solve the city's budget problems and working hard to find a viable solution to housing a hospital in Eugene, Bettman has been a strong leader, remaining consistent with her values and truly representing those in her ward.

Bettman says her willingness to "meet with anybody: the Chamber, homebuilders, businesses, organizations, anyone, including people who don't necessarily share my political views," has helped her provide balance to the council.

Bettman hopes to continue to see essential city services prioritized in the budget process, so that the allocation of resources is "consistent with community values." Also, since the urban renewal district has "survived its challenge," she says, she's "eager to be there to make sure the money gets spent in a fiscally responsible manner."

Regarding housing standards, Bettman says she wants to offer a balanced perspective on the council and be there to provide the diversity of opinion needed to make sure the views of the entire city are represented in that area, as well.

The creation of high quality, living wage jobs, while also safeguarding current jobs, is a top priority for her.

Nathanson, as well as Slocum, are arguing the city's too mired in process. Bettman says the current mayor has recently created three committees. The problem, she says, is not process, it's that now there is an exclusive process and she wants to open it up to be more inclusive. "If more people are listened to, the community would feel it has more at stake and less like things are being imposed on them," she says.

Bettman is also being challenged by Democratic newbie and UO sophomore Adam Walsh. Walsh's true intentions for running have remained somewhat of a mystery. He says he's the "compromise candidate." Yet that moniker could have meaning beyond his intentions. A vote for Walsh is a vote that would play into the hands of Slocum.

Slocum told the Rubicon Society a few weeks ago he wants to look at land use codes and expand the urban growth boundary for more commercial industrial development. But the council recently updated land use codes. As to Slocum's charge that the council is "too big on process," Bettman says, "We've gotten a monumental amount of things done ... I think we are the town that does."

 

Eugene City Council, Ward 2

Betty Taylor

Betty Taylor has one of the most solid progressive and environmental voting records on the Eugene City Council.

In a Eugene Weekly examination of 47 key votes over the past five years, Taylor took the progressive stand 96 percent of the time. The Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV) has repeatedly given Taylor a 100 percent voting record on the environment.

Taylor has voted to keep local government open, accountable and fiscally responsible. She has voted to protect wetlands, preserve clean water, control urban sprawl, protect and enhance parks, and end taxpayer give-aways to developers and corporations. She's supported tax reform, police accountability, funding for schools, living wages, helping the homeless, funding drug treatment, protecting the Willamette riverfront and reducing traffic congestion. Since she was first elected in 1997, Taylor has worked ethically and diligently for the good of the people of Eugene and the local environment.

Taylor has the endorsement of OLCV, Sierra Club, the Oregon Natural Resources Council (ONRC Action PAC) and the Eugene firefighters and municipal employees (AFSCME) unions. South Eugene County Commissioner Peter Sorenson and Councilors David Kelly and Bonny Bettman, as well as a host of other former and current elected officials and local businesses also stand behind her. Now, Taylor can add EW to her long list of endorsements.

Taylor's opponent Maurie Denner is backed by developers who hope to cash in on urban sprawl, taxpayer subsidies and destroying Eugene's environment and quality of life for personal profit. Denner's campaign has the financial backing of the state's leading pro-sprawl lobbying group — the Homebuilder Association PAC's "Oregonians for Affordable Housing." The developers and sprawl interests behind the Eugene Chamber of Commerce PAC are also pumping cash into Denner's campaign. Taylor is a registered Democrat, whereas Denner hasn't registered a party affiliation.

The developer donations have paid for Denner's slick mailings to voters in the ward. The political baby kissing in the mailings is over the top. One mailing proclaims "no one else is looking out for" children and education in our community. That may be a surprise to members of the 4J School Board. In fact, Taylor has a strong pro-kids and education voting record with votes for supporting schools with city funds and cutting tax breaks and developer subsidies that divert money from local schools. If Denner had to choose between giving his developer or corporation friends a subsidy or tax break or instead using the money for local schools, we worry he'd drop the baby.

 

Andrea Ortiz

Eugene City Council, Ward 7

Andrea Ortiz

Andrea Ortiz is challenging incumbent Scott Meisner for the hot Ward 7 seat. Both are Democrats in this non-partisan race. Meisner has disappointed his progressive constituents by voting with more conservative council members on issues of fairness (open government, downtown gathering permit, renaming Centennial, etc.), the environment (clean water, stream protection, WEP, etc.), fiscal responsibility (urban renewal, tax reform and other taxes), livability (hospital siting, school funding), poverty (living wage, housing, drug treatment) and sprawl (though on this issue he did better than others — see "Splitsville," EW 4/8).

It's because she didn't feel he was a true representative of her ward that Andrea Ortiz, hospital administrator, volunteer (vice-chair of the Trainsong Neighbors, Chair of the Bethel Weed and Seed committee, member of the Bethel school board, the Eugene Human Rights and Police Commissions, and mother of three grown children) chose to run for the seat.

Calling her bid for council the obvious next step in her volunteerism, Ortiz says, as a Latina woman, she hopes to add some diversity to the council, and to give voice to the many under-represented who live in north Eugene.

A 25-year resident of the Trainsong neighborhood off Roosevelt Boulevard, Ortiz has worked hard on environmental issues, including air pollution and toxics. "We don't know what's buried in the railroad yards," she says. As for air pollution, she notes that someone living just three miles away in south Eugene will be just as affected by pollutants emitted in the railyard as someone living in Trainsong.

Ortiz has worked on combating air and ground pollution in the railroad yards, and taken "green" stands on toxics, forests/watershed protections, parks, wetlands and natural areas, the urban growth boundary, West Eugene Parkway, recycling, systems development charges and salmon recovery, and has received the endorsement of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters.

Meisner received a dismal 10 percent rating from OLCV for council votes in 2002-03.

In contrast to Ortiz's heavy community involvement and commitment, Meisner seldom attends neighborhood meetings in his ward. He also voted to eliminate funding for community television and to cut time for public testimony at council meetings.

On poverty, Ortiz supports full funding for human service programs, whereas Meisner voted against allocating money for poverty reduction strategies and voted against putting the ultimately successful school levy on the ballot.

Ortiz is endorsed by Councilors Bettman, Taylor and Kelly, County Commissioner Peter Sorenson, former Ward 7 Councilor Shawn Boles, former Councilor Paul Nicholson and former U.S. Congressman Jim Weaver.

We believe Ortiz will be an exceptional addition to the City Council — a woman who will truly represent her ward.

 

 

John Simpson

EWEB,

Wards 1 & 8 Position


John Simpson

Eugene Water & Electric races don't get nearly as much attention as City Council races, but EWEB decisions often have direct impact on residents in terms of the size of our utility bills, the service we receive from our utility company, and the health and future of our rivers and streams.

The only contested race for the EWEB board in this primary election is between Paul Conte and John Simpson for Wards 1 and 8, southwest and south-central Eugene. We favor Simpson.

Both candidates are highly knowledgeable, environmentally "green" and otherwise qualified. The biggest difference appears to be in the candidates' ability to work with groups. Conte's aggressive style has alienated more than a few Eugeneans and some have linked his insistence on capping medical benefits at EWEB during his short tenure on the board to the unionizing of employees.

Simpson says what sets him apart from Conte is that "I know the difference between responsible oversight and disruptive micro-management." Simpson notes that Conte was appointed to serve on the EWEB board for six months in 2002, but four EWEB commissioners currently in office, in addition to former Commissioners Sarah Hendrickson and Susie Smith, now endorse Simpson. Commissioner Ron Farmer has unofficially endorsed Conte.

Conte's leadership style has also drawn fire from former longtime Jefferson Westside Neighborhood (JWN) board member John Belcher who notes that both Simpson and Conte have served as co-chairs of the association. Belcher praises Simpson as "one of our most respected leaders," but says Conte "was one of the worst chairs we've ever had. He was unwilling to consider anyone else's opinion and acted unilaterally several times without board approval. When the board tried to discuss their concerns, Paul resigned rather than participate — completing six months of his two-year term."

Conte agrees that his time with the neighborhood group was difficult. "Unfortunately, the JWN has for some years been dysfunctional and poorly supported by area residents," he says. "Meetings are rarely attended by more than a handful of people … A number of people, myself included, feel that one of the problems is the way two or three people have co-opted the process to keep control of the organization. … Over the past couple of years, a few of us have tried to change the direction by getting on the board. Ultimately, however, we failed. From our perspective the board process was subverted, and we didn't have the votes to prevent that. As a consequence, three board members and the newsletter editor resigned last fall. The disagreements leading up to this point were

contentious."

Despite the neighborhood squabble, Conte says he's "worked very successfully with many different organizations in my consulting, publishing and speaking … and most people who don't have a personal ax to grind will tell you I am conscientious and thorough, and that I respect broad participation in process. Admittedly, I don't suffer fools gladly."

How do the two stand on key issues? On tiered rates (charging higher rates for those who use more electricity), Simpson says he's "not sure they are achieving their goal" and he wants to re-examine them. Conte is calling for a return to flat rates for residential customers. "Tiered rates hurt many people who live on fixed incomes [and] who live in their older, less efficient homes," he says.

On relocating EWEB headquarters and possibly selling the current site to McKenzie-Willamette/Triad for a hospital, both candidates are open to the idea as long as it doesn't cost EWEB ratepayers. Simpson says he does not want the urban growth boundary expanded to accommodate EWEB moving, and he wants EWEB to maintain a "downtown presence" with meeting rooms available to the public.

Regarding the proposed Coburg gas-fired power plant, Simpson says he's "against this project and don't see a need for it." Conte wants a "deeper analysis" and is concerned about air and water quality problems. But he notes that even wind power has environmental impacts, and adds that "it may be that smaller gas plants with the best environmental controls may have sufficiently low impact to be considered."

Both candidates say they favor renewable energy, conservation and protecting the environment. Simpson has been attending board meetings for a year; Conte has attended very few meetings. All things considered, Simpson gets our nod.