Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno confirmed last week that the May 19 primary election would continue as planned, explaining that Oregon’s vote-by-mail system means voters will not have to worry about social distancing and crowd sizes at polling stations.
“Contingency plans are being prepared to deal with any impacts the COVID-19 virus may have on our election processes,” Clarno said in a statement issued March 19.
Oregon may well export its vote-by-mail model to the rest of the country. As Puerto Rico and Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland and Ohio postpone elections due to concerns about exposure to COVID-19 at polling locations, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has introduced a bill to Congress mandating emergency vote-by-mail during natural disasters or outbreaks of infectious disease. The Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act of 2020 would require all states to offer voters the option to mail or drop-off paper ballots, in the event 25% of U.S. states declare a state of emergency.
Clarno confirmed the certified list of 371 candidates who are running for office throughout the state had been submitted to county election experts, who are preparing the ballots. Voters’ pamphlets will be delivered between April 22 and 24.
The primary election gives voters unaffiliated with a major party the opportunity to vote on nonpartisan positions, which includes judges and some county and local offices. Voters who are registered as Democrat or Republican are further able to vote for their party’s nominees for the general election in November, allowing them to cast ballots for candidates for U.S. President, Oregon Secretary of State, state Treasurer and state Attorney general, as well as state and national legislators.
Voters seeking the latest updates on the primary election, including any changes due to the pandemic, should visit oregonvotes.gov.
A guide for military and overseas voters is available here: oregonvotes.gov/voters-guide-military/votersguide.
Current Secretary of State Bev Clarno is serving out the term vacated when Dennis Richardson died in 2019, and will not run for re-election. Fellow Republicans running for the nomination are Dave Stauffer, who ran for governor in 2018 and 2016, and Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer).
Sen. Shemia Fagan (D-Portland) is running for the Democratic nomination against Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) and Jamie McLeod-Skinner, the 2018 Democratic candidate for Oregon's 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Sen. Lew Frederick (D-Portland) is running unopposed.
Rep. Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland) will run for re-election unopposed, while Speaker of the House, Rep. Tina Kotek (D-Portland) will be challenged by Republican Margo Logan in November.
Mayor Ted Wheeler is up for re-election, facing 18 challengers who have qualified to run against him: Sarah Iannarone, educator; Teressa Raiford, activist and founder of Don't Shoot Portland; Michael O'Callaghan, homeless advocate; Bruce Broussard, entrepreneur; Michael Burleson, law student; Cash Blanco Carter, entertainer; Ozzie Gonzalez, business owner; Willie Banks, reverend and founder of Rosa Parks Foundation Northwest; Lew Humble, retired mechanic; Floyd La Bar, yoga teacher; Mark White, community activist; Michael Jenkins, cannabis grower; Beryl McNair, retired federal government employee; Piper Crowell, digital policy expert; Sharon Joy, retired; Jarred Bepristis, bartender; Daniel Hoffman, homeless rights activist; Randy Rapaport, board member, Sequential Biofuels
Commissioner Amanda Fritz is not seeking re-election, and running for her open seat are Carmen Rubio, executive director of Latino Network; Philip Wolfe, commissioner, Portland Commission on Disability; Timothy DuBois, carpenter; Candace Avalos, higher education administrator; Isham Harris, bus driver; Cullis (James) Autry, self-employed; Alicia McCarthy, naturopathic physician; Corinne Patel, business consultant; Mary Ann Schwab, retired high school secretary
Candidates to serve the remainder of late Commissioner Nick Fish’s term are
Jack Kerfoot, retired, veteran; Alicea Maurseth, civil engineer; Walter Wesley, water filtration specialist; Diana Gutman, veteran and human rights activist; Loretta Smith, former Multnomah County Commissioner; Margot Black, community organizer and co-chair of Portland Tenants United; Terry Parker, community activist; Julia DeGraw, environmental activist; Cynthia Castro, senior policy advisor to Commissioner Amanda Fritz; Dan Ryan, executive coach; Tera Hurst, community organizer; Sam Chase, Metro Councilor, District 5; Ronault (Polo) Catalani, public policy consultant; Rachelle Dixon, food justice advocate; Jeff Lang, risk and insurance consultant; James (Jas) Davis, owner of Awakenings Wellness Center; Aquila Montas, family resource coordinator; Ryan Farmer, civil litigator
Chloe Eudaly seeks re-election, with challenges from Mingus Mapps, former city employee and political science professor; Robert MacKay, attorney; Keith Wilson, president, Titan Freight Systems, Inc.; Kevin McKay, banker; Seth Woolley, software developer; Aaron Fancher, janitor; Sam Adams, former Mayor of Portland
The city’s 10-cent-per-gallon tax fuel tax was first put into place four years ago, and renewal is projected over the next four years to net $25 million for paving, with an additional $26 million going toward safety projects, and an additional $23.5 million for pothole repair, gravel street improvement and basic safety upgrades.
The ambitious program, advanced by the Metro Council, is designed to both house the 5,700 homeless in the region and to provide wraparound support services for vulnerable and rent-burdened households. If approved, $250 million in annual funding would be secured through a 1% tax on individuals earning more than $125,000 a year and joint yearly incomes of $200,000 a year, as well as a 1% tax on the profits of businesses whose gross yearly receipts exceed $5 million.
The measure was challenged by a group called Alliance for an Affordable Metro, but ultimately certified by a Multnomah County Judge with minor changes. The same group, along with five area chambers of commerce, asked Metro to withdraw the measure from the May ballot, citing the economic stress to businesses caused by the ongoing pandemic. Metro said it would not postpone the measure, arguing the services would be especially beneficial to workers in times of economic uncertainty.