05-28-2024  4:46 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
Top Row: Candidates for U.S. Representative, District 1, Suzanne Bonamici; U.S. Representative, District 3, Susheela Jayapal; U.S. Representative, District 5, Janelle Bynum; and Attorney General, Dan Rayfield. Bottom Row: Candidates for State Treasurer, Elizabeth Steiner; Secretary of State, James Manning; District Attorney, Mike Schmidt; and County Board of Commissioners District 2, Shannon Singleton.
By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 09 May 2024

UNITED STATES

U.S. Representative, District 1, Suzanne Bonamici

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici has been in her current position since 2012, but we find no signs of her getting complacent. She has supported college loan debt forgiveness and voted for both the Infrastructure Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act. She has countered mounting attacks on reproductive health care by codifying abortion services and access as federal law under the Women’s Health Protection Act, which she helped pass in the U.S. House. She is a champion of Medicare for all, has pushed for greater gun control alongside survivors of school shootings and is a staunch advocate for voters rights.

Bonamici is being challenged by Democrat and Intel engineer Jamil Ahmad, whose platform is that military aid to Israel violates the constitutional separation between church and state. Fellow Democrat and entrepreneur Courtney Casgraux filed to run, but did not provide materials to appear in the voters’ pamphlet. Of the three, we feel Bonamici continues to be the best suited for the job.

VOTE ✔ YES FOR BONAMICI

U.S. Representative, District 3, Susheela Jayapal

Of the seven candidates running for District 3, the race appears to come down to former County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, state Rep. Maxine Dexter (D-Portland) and Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales to fill the shoes of outgoing progressive leader Earl Blumenauer. We’d like to send someone to U.S. Congress who has more experience than Morales can yet boast, and while Dexter has that experience, we are more excited by Jayapal’s progressive acumen. She enjoys robust support from the BIPOC community, counting former state senator Avel Gordly, Rep. Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland) and Sen. Kayse Jama (D-Portland) among her local supporters. 

Though county leaders have been criticized for sluggishness in disbursing funds earmarked to help end homelessness, Jayapal has successfully advocated for quality-of-life improvements, like mobile shower facilities, securing funding for rent assistance and legal defense in eviction court and recruiting landlords to make more units available for those transitioning back into housing. Jayapal has also made it clear she’s ready for a fight, vowing to counter election-deniers. And as someone who arrived in the U.S. at the age of 16, Susheela is focused on a fair and humane immigration system. 

Like Dexter and Morales, Jayapal has vowed to defend reproductive rights in the U.S., and she has been open about how important abortion access has been to her personally. She supports Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. We look forward to supporting her in Congress. 

VOTE ✔ YES FOR JAYAPAL

U.S. Representative, District 5, Janelle Bynum

This was an admittedly difficult call to make. We previously endorsed opponent Jamie McLeod-Skinner for her impressive background in emergency management and understanding of how BIPOC communities are most vulnerable to climate crises like mounting heat waves and wildfires. She seemed uniquely positioned to bridge the gap with rural communities, and we second her support of initiatives like the "civilian G.I. bill" to fund college education for students who go on to jobs in public service. Impressively, she primaried longtime Rep. Kurt Schrader in 2022, to narrowly lose the seat to Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer the following November.

But McLeod-Skinner has also been accused of verbal abuse and intimidation by some former campaign staffers, which she categorically denies. The effect has been somewhat bruising to her campaign, putting a damper on her chances of defeating Chavez-DeRemer in a race that could otherwise help determine a Democratic majority in the House.

Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas), meanwhile, entered the race with a strong record of introducing legislation to advance equity cosponsoring a successful bill to compensate those wrongly convicted and imprisoned, helming the CROWN Act to ban discrimination based on hair type, style or texture, and, as chair of the bipartisan House Judiciary's Equitable Policing Subcommittee, helped pass a package of bills to better train police to assist with medical emergencies and distress during arrest and to limit the public release of booking photos.

Bynum is also committed to making sure Oregonians have the same reproductive rights they did before Roe vs. Wade was overturned, and her stalwart support for abortion access is sorely needed in a rural region of a state bordering Idaho, which has some of the most Draconian reproductive healthcare bans on the books.

She has the backing of Gov. Tina Kotek, retiring congressman and progressive stalwart Earl Blumenauer and the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, to name a few. If elected, Bynum would be the first Black representative Oregon has ever sent to U.S. Congress – and we think Congress would benefit greatly from her voice.

VOTE ✔ YES FOR BYNUM

OREGON STATE

Secretary of State, James Manning

State Sen. James Manning has used his eight years in office to further equity and address issues of police brutality, land preservation, renters’ rights, gun control loopholes, weaknesses in the foster care system and healthcare access. He has worked to enshrine reproductive rights for Oregonians and shown a granular understanding of some of the most controversial issues of the day:  introducing legislation that tackled gun ownership loopholes and the production of homemade “ghost guns” and to curtail the reputation-destroying wide release of mugshots, for example. 

And along the way he has acted with integrity and good judgment – a welcome addition to the office of Secretary of State, which has been rocked by controversy and which has also seen many terms cut short, with the resignation of Shemia Fagan, the death of then-Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, and the promotion of Kate Brown to governor after her predecessor’s departure. 

It is an important office that oversees the running of state elections at a time when election workers are experiencing higher levels of threats and violence thanks to interference from previous U.S. President Donald Trump. Manning’s opponent is outgoing State Treasurer Tobias Read, a solid candidate in his own right. But we’d like to see Manning helm this important post. We agree that his 24 years in the U.S. Army has steadied his hand and given him the organizational and temperamental training needed to ensure safe and fair elections. 

Manning’s endorsers include Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon, the Sierra Club, Oregon AfSCME, SEIU Oregon, Unite Oregon, as well as Oregon Senate President Rob Wagner, state senators Lew Frederick, Kayse Jama, Aaron Woods and state representatives Travis Nelson, Thuy Tran, Hoa Nguyen, Tawna Sanchez and others. He also has the support of former state state senators Avel Gordly and Margaret Carter, U.S. congressional candidate Eddie Morales and Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt. We add our name to the list.

VOTE ✔ YES FOR MANNING

Attorney General, Dan Rayfield

In his time as state legislator and former speaker of the house, Oregon Rep. Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) has earned the support of retiring Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who praised Rayfield for the balance of passion and accountability he brings to his vision for Oregon. He also enjoys the support of U.S. senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, the Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon, the Oregon Nurses Association and Oregon AFL-CIO, to name just a few. He knows the ropes and has committed to fighting national threats to reproductive health care and pledged to fight predatory lenders – priorities borne out by his experience litigating civil rights and consumer protection cases.

Shaina Maxey Pomerantz has some background as a civil rights investigator and has sat on police review and police equity advisory committees. However, of the two more progressive candidates, the far more experienced Rayfield has our vote.

VOTE ✔ YES FOR RAYFIELD

State Treasurer, Elizabeth Steiner

In her 12 years on the legislature, Oregon Sen. Elizabeth Steiner (D-Portland) has become known as one of the top budget writers in the state. In explaining how her background as a physician informed her passion for state-level number-crunching, she made the astute observation that financial woes are profoundly damaging to physical and emotional health. Her platform has some solutions: She wants to introduce an accessible online portal for Oregonians to start college, retirement and general savings accounts; she aims to see twice as many Oregon students with higher education savings plans and she wants to explore launching a bond program for babies born in Oregon, in which the state would make a deposit.

Jeff Gudman is a former Lake Oswego city councilor and financial analyst who is running for the office for a third time – this time as a Democrat. He switched parties in 2020, and while his positions do acknowledge middle-class struggles and the housing shortage, his platform falls short of Steiner’s experience-informed goals for the office.

We admire how clearly Steiner draws the line between the highest accounting position in the state and quality of life for the most vulnerable. We’re eager to see the positive changes she’ll make as state treasurer.

VOTE ✔ YES FOR STEINER

COUNTY

District Attorney, Mike Schmidt

Mike Schmidt has not had an easy time of it, taking office in an unenviable set of circumstances: Amid the city’s historic protests after the murder of George Floyd, Schmidt’s predecessor decided to retire six months early. The newly elected Schmidt stepped in at a time when racial justice and law enforcement were especially at odds and nightly protests continued downtown and beyond for an impressive stretch – and as the Covid-19 pandemic raged. Not long into Schmidt’s term, Measure 110 decriminalized smaller amounts of drug possession in favor of diversion. Schmidt supported the measure, but the roll-out of such an unprecedented reform was destined to be rocky, and Schmidt has unfairly been blamed for an ongoing fentanyl crisis – in fact, he’s been blamed for a rise in crime that follows a national trend.

It is also not unfair to say he bore the brunt of an aggrieved police force at a time when the public overwhelmingly pushed for reform. But Schmidt, the former executive director of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, had campaigned on criminal justice reform and brought with him a data-driven mindset to counter racial inequities, and we support this important and ongoing work.

Schmidt’s challenger Nathan Vasquez is a senior deputy district attorney, at times revising his own support of Schmidt’s more progressive approaches to arrests and arrest dismissals. This revision has successfully garnered him the support of the Portland Police Association, but little in the way of BIPOC support. His law-and-order platform is a misguided fix for complex issues that require thoughtful solutions, not force.

We are not ready to give up on a more common-sense and equitable approach to criminal justice, and Vasquez presents himself as an over-correction in a time of tumult. We urge you to vote for Schmidt.

VOTE ✔ YES FOR SCHMIDT

COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

District 2, Shannon Singleton

In a field of interesting and engaging candidates, which includes former mayor Sam Adams and hotelier and small business owner Jessie Burke, Shannon Singleton stood out to us for the deep institutional knowledge she brings as a social worker who has sat on housing and homelessness advisory boards. She has previously served as executive director of JOIN, and as an advisor in housing policy and director of equity and racial justice for former Gov. Kate Brown.

On addressing lack of access to mental health care, Singleton impressed us when she told The Skanner, “As a frontline worker at Cascadia I saw that in order to have the level of service we need, we will have to rethink the way the counties contract for health services…For too long, we’ve relied on the market to build these beds and the Medicaid reimbursement rate just doesn’t cut it, so beds don’t get built or staffed. Ideally, Multnomah County would lead a partnership to work with the coordinated care organizations across the state and bring the legislature a package of reforms that address this fundamental market issue. We can get a quick win by identifying projects with funding gaps that could be covered by (supportive housing services tax) dollars. We also need partnerships with health systems because SHS was intended to accelerate coordination rather than fix every issue. Local hospitals are hurting because we lack (short-stay, transitional) facilities in our community. By working directly with them, we can find innovative partnerships that allow us to move quickly and nimbly.”

Brown credited Singleton’s leadership for securing $450 million in federal funding for the Rose Quarter project. A community activist with government chops and her own past experience with homelessness, Singleton brings a unique voice to the race. She has the support of the Portland Association of Teachers, state Sen. Kayse Jama and state representatives Maxine Dexter and Travis Nelson, in addition to SEIU Oregon and a number of other labor unions. She has our support as well.

VOTE ✔ YES FOR SINGLETON

District 3, Julia Brim-Edwards 

In less than a year Brim-Edwards has made former Jessica Vega Pederson's former seat her own, and we think she should keep it. Her challenger is housing advocate TJ Noddings. While we don’t disagree with Noddings’ stance that the county has been sluggish to put housing dollars to good – or any – use, we find Brim-Edwards to be the more experienced and well-rounded of the two. The Portland Public School Board member enjoys the support of board colleagues and community leaders Gary Hollands and Michelle DePass, among others, and has the endorsement of U.S. representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer. Like them, she has proven herself deft and tireless at tackling the issues – and at bringing some much-needed spark and pushback to the board.

VOTE ✔ YES FOR BRIM-EDWARDS

BALLOT MEASURES

Portland

26-245: Renew Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax for Street Repair, Maintenance, Safety: ✔ YES

26-246- Levy Renewal to Maintain Teachers and Classroom Support Staff: ✔ YES

26-243 Urban Flood Safety and Water Quality District Measure: ✔ YES

We are wary of any measures that increase housing prices by upping property taxes. But even within that lens, this is a good deal: The Urban Flood Safety and Water Quality District is asking for up to $150 million in general obligation funds, which will unlock a Congressional match of up to $100 million to upgrade the century-old flood safety system along the Columbia River. For homes worth $246,000, that comes to $26 a year. That's quite a bargain for the work of raising levees, restoring natural floodplains and protecting communities from climate change-related flooding – and bringing the whole system up to federal standards. 

Measure 26-244: Bonds to Protect Animal Health, Provide Conservation, Education; Increase Sustainability: ✔ YES

A 2008 bond allowed the Oregon Zoo to renovate nearly half of its grounds, and this measure would renew that bond to fund more habitat restorations, give greater accessibility for visitors and allow the zoo to continue its important conservation work – like eventually restoring sea otters to the Oregon coast after their near-decimation from centuries of hunting. But beyond supporting a world-class education facility, there is a compelling economic reason to keep investing in the zoo: It generates $5 million in tax revenue by attracting 1.3 million visitors annually, bringing in more than $60 million in tourism spending.

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