• 20-290 Lane County: Amends charter, adopts “Score, Then Automatic Runoff” voting for elections. Yes.
America needs a new election system. Measure 20-290, known as “Score, Then Automatic Runoff” (STAR), proposes a solution that could work. STAR voting allows you to score candidates — from zero to five. The two candidates with the highest scores are then taken to a second round. From there, the candidate preferred by the most voters wins.
STAR Voting would remove the spoiler effect, so you can go ahead and vote your conscience. Imagine that. We could have an actual democracy. The spoiler effect of “choose one” has resulted in Republican presidencies that the majority of Americans didn’t vote for. (To be fair, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore were both weaker candidates, and it makes sense that some people would gamble and vote for Ralph Nader and Bernie Sanders.)
STAR would also remove the need for a primary election by consolidating it into one election — which would have more turnout. Just take the East Lane County Commissioner race. Voters had to choose among six candidates. The problem is that the 2018 primary election had a low turnout of 35 percent. Essentially one-third of county voters dictated which commissioner candidates would show up on the November ballot. STAR supporters say their system will allow candidates to avoid the primary election and can instead campaign during the more pleasant summer — and it would take some of the money out of county races.
For those who are concerned about the STAR system jeopardizing our election system, this will only be used for the nonpartisan county races of county commissioner. Some call STAR Voting not ready for primetime. However, reforming our broken election system requires throwing something out there. Are you going to keep a bird in its nest forever just because you’re worried it’s not ready to fly?
20-292 River Road Park & Recreation District: Five-year renewal of local option tax to maintain general operations. Yes.
A renewal is not a new tax, and it’s a small price to pay for physical fitness and recreation.
• 20-296 City of Springfield, authorizes general obligation bond to fix Springfield streets. Yes.
Roads are used by everyone, and Springfield’s roads are in a dire state. Drive along Mill Street, and you’ll find a dead street, says Councilor Sean VanGordon. The city has $35-40 million backlog of streets that need to be repaired, and Measure 20-296, also known as “Fix Springfield Roads,” is a step forward in saving some roads before it’s too late. The measure asks for a $10 million bond paid over five years that would provide the city with the funds to repair and preserve a street, which includes undergoing crack or slurry sealing, filling potholes, pavement overlays and other projects. These repair projects would cost four to 10 times less than a complete reconstruction of a street.
The last time that Springfield asked voters for assistance in fixing the city’s streets, voters refused to pay for it through gas prices — it would have been a modest three cents per gallon. This time, the city is asking for property owners to foot the bill, an average $79 per year for an average homeowner — based on 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. Springfield Councilor Leonard Stoehr frames it another way: If the roads stay the same, it’s estimated that it would cost an annual $170 a year in vehicle maintenance repairs. Of course, business owners won’t be free from taking advantage of the street repair. Since the tax will be based on square footage, they’ll actually pay more.
When it comes to roads, Stoehr makes another good point that preventative measures is better than rebuilding. It’s a matter of several hundred thousand dollars for some streets or several million dollars. “Fix Springfield Roads” is the road assistance the city needs if its residents and business community are serious about making Springfield a destination.
• 20-297 Eugene School District 4J: Bond measure to replace three aging school buildings, improve other school facilities, address safety and overcrowding. Yes.
This bond measure would replace three schools, maintain and repair others, add school safety investments, support curriculum, and provide career and technical training. Our elected school board has worked with experts on buildings, listened faithfully to the public and local press, and 4-J staff. This is our chance to shout out “Yes” for public education.