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2024 Primary Election Voting Guide: Deschutes County - May 21, 2024

2024 Primary Election Voting Guide: Deschutes County - May 21, 2024

Laura Camacho
Laura Camacho

Welcome, voter!

It is our privilege and responsibility as Oregonians and US citizens to vote all the way down the ballot in every election. When you demonstrate your engagement, you inspire others to participate!

I do this work for you and nothing makes me happier than to know it helped you fill out your ballot thoughtfully and intentionally. Thank you so much for reading and voting! β€Œ

This is a living document - until election day, as I received feedback and gain knowledge, I will add it to the guide. If I drastically change my position or candidate choice, I will note it with the edit date.


My vote recommendations are based on my own research and do not represent any entity's opinions but my own. I vote leftist/progressive/democrat/liberal. When other factors are equal, I favor the candidate that is the least cis/white/hetero/old/male; who is aware of, and working on, their own implicit biases; and who is committed to improving equity, accessibility, and inclusivity within their jurisdiction. (Why this isn't racist.)

I will absolutely never vote for a Republican again. The GOP has given itself over to violence and lies and anyone who is still willing to call themselves a Republican, no matter now they frame themselves as "different," is complicit in the destruction of our democracy. The Republican party is corrupt to its very core and there will be no rehabilitation from within its ranks. (FYI, I update those links every year and there's always ample new evidence.)

I'm sorry for those people of integrity whose identity has been Republican, but it is way past time to renounce your party.

True patriots and conservatives with any integrity must not align themselves with the hateful, anti-democratic rhetoric of the Right. If this statement bothers you, close the tab and move along; I don't want to hear from you about it.

Also, I vote with full understanding that we dwell in a system of purposefully perpetuated inequality between classes, races, genders, sexes, abilities, identities, etc. I vote knowing that voting is a bare minimum necessity and solely insufficient for lasting, systemic change. I vote because local elections can matter immensely, and I'll use any tool at my disposal to keep our collective foot in the door to lasting federal reform. Voting is not all that I do, and I hope that you, too, have found your bit of sustainable social activism and are chipping away at injustice in your own community and doing your best to make the world better right where you are. πŸ’œ

I've included summaries of why I'm voting the way I am, and links to more information on candidates, when available, in case you want to be an informed voter. I'm open only to discussion based on actual facts, that respects the work I've done here already. If you disagree with me philosophically to begin with, my guess is that it's going to be a waste of both our time to discuss. But if you think I've erred within my own set of values, I would appreciate your input!

Pay me for my work

What started out as a favor to friends (to keep them from randomly filling in bubbles on their ballots!) has turned into a significant piece of my community service. My voting guides will always be free to use and share, but they've never been free to make. The guide I've written for you here represents about 50 billable hours of my time, researching, info-gathering, and writing.

If this guide helped you fill out your ballot and you can afford to, you can pay me for my work:, Cashapp: $laurajoycamacho or Venmo: @laurajoycamacho.

Please feel free to share this Voting Guide with your friends and on social media, as widely as you can. If you choose to quote any part of it publicly, you must credit my work and link back to the original.

Teal background with black and white lettering. From the top, "Laura's Voting Guide: Deschutes County Primary Election, May 21, 2024." Below that and to the left, there's a speech bubble coming from out of the left side of the frame saying, "Please tell me how to vote!" To the right, there is a drawing of a white woman with brown hair and a black sweatshirt, showing you a ballot-type of paper with checkboxes next to star ratings. The top box next to its 5-star rating is checked. Although there are no facial feature details, the overall effect of the woman is a smiley helpfulness with a slightly know-it-all quirk of the shoulder. At the very bottom, there is a link to

Now Vote!

I'm using the Voter's Pamphlet that you can find here. Your ballot will be mailed to you on May 1. If you think it has gotten lost in the mail, or if it is damaged in any way, contact your county elections office and they'll help you out.

YOUR VOTE IS YOURS. If you are unhoused, you can still vote. If you are a student here, you can still vote. If you need disability services, they are available. If you feel threatened or manipulated to vote a particular way by someone, or if you feel unsafe in any way right now, there are so many people who want to help you.

Keep in mind that not everything I cover here will be on your ballot; your ballot only allows you to vote for the measures and candidates in your particular area of Deschutes county, plus any Oregon/nation-wide candidates and measures.

Your ballot must be postmarked on Election Day – May 21 – and received within 7 days, to be counted (but please fill it out and mail it ASAP!). Or you can drop your ballot at any of the secure ballot drop boxes throughout our county, beginning on May 3.

So, you really just want me to tell you how to vote? Sure thing!

Measure 9-164 - YES

Measure 9-165 - YES

Measure 9-166 - YES

Measure 9-167 - YES

Measure 9-168 - YES

Measure 9-169 - YES

Measure 9-170 - YES

Measure 7-87 - YES

County Commissioner, Position #2: Phil Chang

President of the United States: Uncommitted

US Representative, 5th District: I have no idea – you'd better read why

Secretary of State: Tobias Read

State Treasurer: Elizabeth Steiner

Attorney General: Shaina Maxey Pomerantz

What's that? You want long-winded dissertations on every voting decision I'm making? Let's go. I have 4,999 words for ya!

But first! A primer on levies and assessed value (AV)

Lots of ballot measures are funded by these things called levies, which are special, time-constrained (usually 5-10 years) property taxes that raise revenue for important services like rural fire protection, library funding, and school district needs.

Levies are usually based on a certain dollar amount per Assessed Value (AV) of the property. For instance, the La Pine Fire District Levy below is asking for 64 cents per $1000 of AV.

The most important thing to get straight about assessed value is that it's not the real market value (RMV) you see on sites like Zillow. Assessed Value is way lower.

Bad actors always like to pretend levies are based on RMV, in order to scare up opposition. Don't fall for it!

Here's an example of RMV vs. AV using a property within the La Pine Rural Fire Protection District. At the moment I'm writing, this 2.83 acre property in La Pine, with its 2 bedroom, 92 year old house (and several outbuildings), has an RMV of $759,500.

It's on the market for $795,999.

Its Assessed Value is a mere $207,980.

A collage of images: A Zillow posting for a 2 bedroom, 2 bath, 1620 square foot house on Stationmaster Way in La Pine, OR, that is listed for $795,999. A snipped from the county assessor's site that shows this property's assessed value is $207,980. And a statement: "These property owners will pay about $11/month for their fire and emergency operations levy.

So, despite having a property that's on the market for well over 3/4 of a million dollars, the owners will be paying only about $11/month for their fire and emergency operations levy.

You can find your (and your neighbors', if you're nosy like me) property's assessed value (and lots of other cool info) on the Deschutes county website.

9-164 Newberry Estates Special Road District – Five Year Local Option Tax Renewal for District Dust Abatement: YES

Newberry Estates residents already pay for road upkeep and snow removal with a different fee. This funding is solely for dust abatement. For most properties in the neighborhood, it will cost about $100/year for this service, and if you prefer to keep the dust down in your rural La Pine neighborhood, this is an easy cost-sharing option available to you.

9-165 La Pine Rural Fire Protection District – Renewal of 5 year Operations Levy for the Fire District: YES

Around here, we always vote yes for fire protection funding. Especially in rural, wooded areas! This levy is 64 cents per $1000 of Assessed Value, and will raise about $1.5 million per year to staff two 24/7 advanced life support ambulances and fund operations at all three stations.

9-166 La Pine Rural Fire Protection District – Renewal of 10 year Capital Levy for the Fire District: YES

Same as above – everyone is going to pay a little bit to make sure everyone stays safe. This levy is 23 cents per $1000 of Assessed Value, and will raise about half a million per year to keep all the equipment maintained/replaced so that it's in working order when emergencies happen.

9-167 Administrative School District No. 1 – 5-Year Local Option Levy to Improve, Support Student Learning: YES

Oregon's schools have been woefully underfunded for decades due to the Religious Right's (now better known as MAGAs) concentrated efforts to destroy public education since the 90s. You can read more here about the infamous Measure 5 (and 47, and 50) that decimated Oregon school funding for over 3 decades.

The damage wasn't even close to being addressed until we passed the Student Success Act in 2019. Then the pandemic hit, which created chaos and learning loss and more urgent education needs; and now the federal Covid education relief funds are also drying up, leaving us completely in the lurch.

While the state of Oregon figures out their end of public school funding, we have the opportunity to help our own neighborhood schools thrive, by voting yes on this levy. Yay!

The Learning Levy will provide $1 per $1000 of Assessed Value (remember what that is!) to the school district to make desperately needed cost of living adjustments to teacher salaries, hire more teachers and support staff, expand CTE options, maintain Special Education programming, and support electives like languages, art, music, etc.

You'll probably hear a lot of pearl clutching/fist shaking about the cost of this levy, and a favorite argument of the naysayers is, "I don't have kids in public school; why should I pay for it?"

Well, buddy, because an educated society is a safer, stronger society. Because a population that is better educated has less unemployment, reduced dependence on public assistance programs, and greater tax revenue – all things you'd probably like to see happening in Bend, right?

If you want to live in a great community full of vibrant, employed, educated people, you have to add your money to the pot that makes it all happen.

And don't worry! It won't cost you an arm and a leg – doing your part to help create a more robust public schooling program for everyone is a fraction of what private school tuition for one student costs. Here's what the property owners of the most and least expensive homes in Bend (on April 2, when I'm writing this) will pay for the Learning Levy.

Side by side image grabs from Zillow for the most and least expensive homes in Bend. The most expensive home is listed at $10,995,000 and has 8 bedrooms, 10 baths, and 9,933 square feet. The least expensive home is listed at $415,000 and has 1 bedroom, 1 bath, and is 598 square feet. Below those listings are screenshots from the County website of their respective Assessed Value: $1,438,030 for the most expensive house, and $133,340 for the least expensive house. Below that, words say, "The Learning Levy will cost this [the most expensive house] property owner $1400/year" and "The Learning Levy will cost this [the least expensive house] property owner $133/year.
To put this into perspective, tuition for one student for one year at Cascades Academy is $22,900, plus program fees.

9-168 City of Redmond - Amending Redmond City Charter for qualifications to hold elective office: YES

This is basically an anti-nepotism measure and I'm here for it.

"The amendment would add a qualification that no person would be allowed to hold elective office on the same City Council with their spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child who is a current Mayor or City Councilor."

9-169 City of Redmond - Amending Charter to change Mayoral term length and term limits: YES

I'm super in favor of term limits at every level of government, so this is an easy yes for me.

"If the proposed charter amendment is adopted, the mayoral term would change [from 2 years] to four years, beginning January 1, 2027, and a person would only be eligible to be elected to two consecutive terms as a Mayor."

9-170 City of Redmond - Amending the City Charter to add Councilor term limits: YES

See above; this is a good thing.

"The amendment would create term limits of a maximum of two consecutive four-year terms as a City Councilor {a total of eight consecutive years as a Councilor}. Following two terms, a City Councilor would be eligible to run for mayor in the next election or to run for City Councilor again in two years."

7-87 Crook County School District - Bonds to Increase Safety; Repair and Update Schools (Crook County Measure, Shared Jurisdiction): YES

If it's on your ballot and you have a chance to vote on it, please vote yes! Please contribute a paltry 10 cents per $1000 of Assessed Value so that your students can have working heat and air conditioning, and non-leaking roofs, etc.

County Commissioner, Position #2: Phil Chang

One candidate has to take more than 50% of the vote this election, otherwise the two with the most votes will have a runoff in the fall election. OMG please give Phil 50% of the vote so we can be done, please.

If we lose Chang, we lose all the progress we've made toward humane solutions for homelessness, housing affordability, mental health and chemical dependency support, environmental concerns...the list goes on. Please vote for him.

Phil Chang our only current commissioner with consistency and integrity. He's pragmatic, data-driven, and tries really hard to be collaborative with two of the most infuriatingly uncooperative, flippity-floppity commissioners we've ever had. I'm still mad that Deschutes County voters couldn't get it together enough to give him new coworkers last election and he's still stuck with Patti and Tony.

BTW! It's really dumb that we only have 3 county commissioners still, when Deschutes county has been growing exponentially for years! A local hero is trying to rectify this with an effort to expand the County Commission from 3 members to 5. I highly support this endeavor! Right now, he's gathering signatures to get a ballot measure added for voters to choose whether or not to expand county commission.

You can go sign the petition during his office hours at Unofficial Logging Co., Monday from 11am to 2pm. Or look for volunteers at all local events – the Farmers Markets, First Fridays, etc.

Running against Chang are Judy Trego, Rob Imhoff, and Brian Huntamer.

Recently, Huntamer attempted to drop out of the race and endorse Imhoff, but then learned it was far too late to do so and his name is still on the ballot. So, he's a No for me. The last thing we need is more wishy washy, flip-flopping Commissioners who don't bother to gather the facts before they make their decisions. Good grief.

Judy Trego has been a Republican fixture in Central Oregon politics for awhile, as City Councilor in Sisters and former US Representative Greg Walden's Constituent Services Manager. Currently, she's the Founder and President of Sisters Community Foundation and serves on the Deschutes County budget committee. She most recently lost to Jason Kropf in her 2022 bid for State Representative of the 54th District. In that campaign, she had some unsavory contributors; this time around, she's being a bit more discreet.

Trego is receiving top donations from the Betsy (i.e. Betsy Johnson, Phil Knight-funded attempted spoiler of our last Gubernatorial race) PAC, and $2000 from her 24 year old grandson, Jonathan Ayar – I don't know many 24 year olds with $2000 to give to their grandma's political campaign. Impressive!

Most puzzling, however, is the $11,300 in-kind (meaning, not cash) donation from the defunct Sisters-based transport company Strada Unlimited LLC. What campaign services would a transport company be able to offer, especially when they have been penalized and are not allowed to operate, per Oregon DOT?

Aside from questionable fundraising, my biggest issue with Trego is that she's open about how she wants to privatize the solutions to our public social issues. This only ever serves the interests of the shareholders.

Rob Imhoff also wants to nearly forego state and federal funding in order to have more "local control" over our issues. When I hear that, all I can hear is, "I don't actually want to help people based on the standards of care and accountability established by agency experts; I'd rather squander your tax dollars enriching my cronies."

Private sector corporations must maximize profits if they are to survive. This is fundamentally incompatible with protecting the environment and ensuring universal access to quality public services.
~ Global Policy Institute study on 30 years of Public-Private Partnerships

Imhoff also touts the tired and often-debunked idea of "homeless tourism" – that the people who most need services in our community are actually from outside of our community. All of the Point in Time counts done in the last 3 years show that consistently around 80% of our sheltered or un-sheltered homeless neighbors are actually neighbors; they've lived in the area for at least the past 3 years.

The idea of "Homeless Tourism" is a disingenuous argument that skirts the true, hard work of solving homelessness.

And we already know what solves homelessness; it just takes the political will and funding to accomplish it.

Anyone who tries to sell you anything other than housing the unhoused, housing-loss prevention, and a robustly funded social safety net is insincere.

You can watch the Connect Central Oregon candidate forum here.

President of the United States: Uncommitted

I won't argue that Biden hasn't initiated some positive changes during his first term. He has been dedicated to restoring our long-neglected infrastructure; he's very pro-labor; crime is down; climate change action is widespread and on its way to well-funded; he's even gotten some student loan forgiveness rolling. As much as I hated having to vote for an old, white, Establishment dude, I have had to admit he has done a good job in a great many areas.

I do wish that his efforts translated into positive effects on everyday Americans' cost of living and every day existence; it's hard to see the positive gains for the collective when so many individuals are struggling.

I will not be voting for Biden in this primary, for one reason: He is funding the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

Yeah, I said the G-word. That's unequivocally what it is. (Here's why saying that isn't anti-Semitic.)

While 60% of Americans say that Biden should encourage Israel to decrease or stop military action against Palestinians in Gaza, Biden ignores the will of the people and continues to send money and weapons to Israel with zero conditions.

People who are concerned about the US's role in Israel's decimation of the Palestinian people and their land are making protest votes to show their lack of support of Biden's current trajectory.

If you are interested in sending this message to the President, you can write in "Uncommitted" on your ballot.

This is for the primary only, so don't freak out. No one is asking you to choose between Biden and Trump right now.

There are actually two activist groups recommending sending a message via your ballot. The other group wants you to write in "Ceasefire."

It doesn't really matter which you write, because under Oregon's ballot laws, all the Write-in votes get tallied together (i.e. they're just counting the marked bubble, at first). If the total number of Write-in bubbles equals or exceeds the number of bubbles for any candidate, they'll take all those Write-in ballots and separate them out into piles for each particular protest vote, and let us know what the specific write-ins were. Go Team Uncommitted!

I chose Uncommitted because I don't think just calling for a ceasefire goes far enough.

I mean, VP Harris called for an immediate [6-week] ceasefire back at the beginning of March, but since the administration has no desire to back their gentle pleas with anything resembling political teeth, any "call for a ceasefire" is pointless.

Also, I think the call for a temporary ceasefire is despicable – stop bombing, starving, and bulldozing people for a few weeks, just to start slaughtering them all over again? What the actual fuck.

Anyway, it's quite easy to vote Uncommitted (or Ceasefire, if you like!) and it won't hurt Biden's chance of being on the ballot in November. Here's what it looks like:

A tight crop of a ballot. Headline is United States President. The bubble next to Democrat, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is unfilled. Below that is a Write-in line that has Uncommitted written in, and the bubble next to it filled. In the blank space below, there is a logo that looks like an outline of the state of Oregon with Write In Uncommitted emblazoned across it.

If you don't want to do this, that's fine. Fill in the dot for Biden/Harris and carry on with your good life.

If you are feeling helpless, watching a genocide unfold in real time on social media, I encourage you to take meaningful action. If you have even $5 to spare, consider sending it to this fundraiser to get this family out of Gaza. The person running it is a close friend of one of my long time Facebook friends, so I know it will get to the right place. πŸ’œ

US Representative, 2nd District: Dan Ruby

I don't really get why he's on the primary ballot, as he's running unopposed. So is his Republican counterpart, Cliff Bentz, in his own closed primary. Well, I guess vote for this guy if he's on your ballot! Weird.

US Representative, 5th District: I have no idea

I'm so conflicted about this situation, and it's not because of the candidates.

There are two candidates to choose from: Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a rural Progressive from our neck of the woods (Terrebone) and Janelle Bynum, an Establishment Democrat from Happy Valley.

I think Janelle Bynum is a perfectly decent candidate. I don't disagree with her platform issues – they're quite similar to McLeod-Skinner's (although I think the latter takes a much more progressive approach to them, which I appreciate). Bynum has a strong track record in the state legislature and is endorsed by pretty much every liberal there.

That fact makes me a little concerned that Bynum represents "The Salem Elite" to the voters of the more conservative areas of Oregon upon which her win would depend. I'm not sure if she's done anything to court their votes.

I've always been a big fan of McLeod-Skinner's approach to coalition building in our politically diverse/divided part of the state. She is not afraid to sit down with people who might otherwise oppose her existence as a politically progressive queer woman, and talk to them about the matters that concern us all.

McLeod-Skinner has put years into building name recognition and trust amongst voters across the political spectrum in Central Oregon. I admire that, and I think it's a winning strategy.

Well, then, why hasn't she won yet?

First, because Central Oregon is a notoriously difficult place to get a progressive foothold. Unless you're running solely in Bend, you have to attract a lot of conservative votes to be able to win the area. And second, because for whatever godforsaken reason, the Democrat Powers That Be (and hand out money) refuse to support McLeod-Skinner's campaigns when it really counts.

That funding is especially important for her, because she is committed to not accepting corporate money. Even without the funding she needs, she has done an admirable job getting votes here.

McLeod-Skinner came the closest of any Democrat candidate to beating long-time conservative fixture Greg Walden, in the 2018 US Representative race – losing by only 17 points (compared to gubernatorial candidate Kate Brown, who lost the district by 22 points). Walden spent the most on that campaign than any other – $4 million to McLeod-Skinner's $1 million.

In 2022, McLeod-Skinner handily beat Centrist "The Democratic party is too liberal for my taste" Kurt Schrader in the District 5 primary, despite him having the personal endorsement of POTUS and $2.3 million in funding (to McLeod-Skinner's $700k).

However, when the 2022 general election rolled around, National Democratic groups did not show up for McLeod-Skinner. Most notably, "the House Majority PAC, controlled by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, abandoned the race several weeks before the election...The Republican Congressional Leadership Fund spent more than $6 million attacking McLeod-Skinner, while her biggest independent support came from the Working Families Party, which spent about $1 million" [source]. I am still seething about this!

I'm seeing the exact same pattern now, and that's why I'm concerned and don't know how to vote in the primary.

The DCCC has already thrown all of its support behind Bynum in the primary. She's got the endorsements of basically all of the Democratic Oregon legislators. She's already raised almost a million dollars in Q1 of 2024.

It feels like Bynum has been chosen for us and if we don't comply in the primaries, we will be punished with another Chavez-DeRemer term.

And I'm not totally confident that Bynum can win District 5, even with all the funding in the world.

Bynum claims to have beaten Lori Chavez-DeRemer twice before, but take that with a grain of salt. Bynum has only beaten her in the comfort of a much smaller and more homogenous, Democrat-leaning district than the enormous 5,000 square mile swath of political diversity that is District 5. It's apples and oranges.

Meanwhile, McLeod-Skinner has been tirelessly meeting with folks from all walks of life in the area for years. She's built the relationships that count. Democrats are going to vote for Blue No Matter Who in this race; their votes don't really need to be courted. I've scoured every social media account, event calendar, and press release and I can't even find evidence that Bynum has visited this side of the Cascades!

You'll probably hear buzz about McLeod-Skinner being a bully to her staff – it's something Bynum's campaign is capitalizing on.

I have read everything I can about this from the moment it broke, because I do not want to endorse an abusive asshole.

But honestly, while I don't disbelieve that the people who left her campaign had negative experiences with McLeod-Skinner, I don't think it was an abusive situation (let alone assault) so much as mismatched personalities in a very intense, stressful campaign.

You can read more in this article by Julia Shumway (formerly of Bend and one of Oregon's best reporters btw!), which brings together as much evidence as I've seen in one place and lays out a very clear narrative.

While we're talking about potentially problematic behaviors in candidates, I would be remiss not to point out the case of Janelle Bynum recently being sued for defamation by an employee of one of the four McDonalds franchises she owns (as a self-proclaimed "small business owner" – ehhhhh...) with her husband. I can't find any reports on the outcome of that case, which went to trial this time last year. Why aren't reporters digging into this?

So, in summation: I don't know. My preference would be to vote for McLeod-Skinner, because she's more aligned with my politics (still not leftist enough, but I forgive her; she's probably as progressive as the district will tolerate!). I also think she's more likely to beat Chavez-DeRemer based on her dedicated efforts in the most politically demanding areas of District 5.

But, I don't trust our Democratic Overlords to not once again abandon us to the MAGA Lady if we don't toe the line and give the primary to their favored candidate.

It's a gamble and I don't know what to do. Halp.

Secretary of State: Tobias Read

Immediately, I'm going to eliminate Dave "Water Slides" Stauffer, who is once again using his run as a platform to advertise his weird inventions.

I'm also ditching James Crary (who I was delighted to vote for when he ran against Greg Walden for US Representative in 2016) because he's also just platforming his slightly less weird invention: the ECF – a way to electronically ask candidates questions and get their answers.

First of all, this already exists in many forms – Oregon's own robust Voters' Pamphlet serves this purpose at some level. The League of Women Voters' Vote411 site (in addition to their candidate forums) and even the Tea Party-founded Abigail Adams Project. Hilariously, Crary refused to answer the Abigail Adams Project request. (Very few candidates answer it, and mostly it's Republicans, but I do find it ironic!). Β 

Secondly, just because you develop an Electronic Candidate Forum doesn't mean the candidates are going to use it – just like they already don't make websites, don't write anything meaningful in the Voters' Pamphlet, and don't show up to televised forums and debates. I don't want my tax dollars to be on the hook to enforce this silly, redundant thing!

Third, Crary doesn't even have a candidate website for himself, other than this Multnomah Democrats page, which is essentially the same as his Voters' Pamphlet candidate profile. Crary offers his phone number in that candidate profile with a snarky "(Good luck getting ahold of the other candidates)" next to it. But c'mon dude – the majority of your potential voting base has an entire genre of memes about telephobia dedicated to them! Just give them a website with your own statements on the issues!

A telephobia meme. Two terrified children, labeled Gen Z and Millenials, are cowering and crying in a corner, while they gaze with horror at a black bunny, labeled Gen X & Boomers sniffing a green rotary phone going "Brrrrrrng Brrrng."

I'm also eliminating Paul Damian Wells, who is an Independent running as a Democrat so he doesn't have to jump through the hoops required of non-major party candidates (Boo!). And while I respect that he's pointing out the flaws in our system and campaigning on RCV, I do not respect his stated plan to: "write-in N.O.T.A [None Of The Above] for each federal office on my ballot. (Upping the ante) After 32 years of asking politely, it’s obvious that too many Democrats will not support equal voting rights - until forced to do so."

So, that leaves us with Tobias Read and James Manning.

Read has a long political career in Oregon. He was in the Oregon House of Representatives, representing District 27 from 2007–2017, and then State Treasurer from 2017 until present (he lost the 2022 gubernatorial primary to Tina Kotek). He has termed out of the Treasurer role, so he's got his eye on Secretary of State. Read's biggest asset and the majority of his platform is his considerable experience working in the complexities of running the State.

Manning is an Oregon State Senator, representing District 7 (in the Eugene area). He was appointed to the position in 2016, "won" the position unopposed in 2018, and got 64% of the vote in his 2022 election. During his 24 year Army career, he served as Chief Administrator Supervisor United States Army Southern Command, as well as U.S. Army Assistant Inspector General, running audits on staff and equipment. Because he lacks the breadth of Read's political experience, Manning's main platform is his Army career and self-proclaimed (and I haven't found any reason to doubt this, but it is something he takes every opportunity to mention) integrity.

Manning has more progressive endorsements than Read, including our own local darlings, the Vocal Seniority. Read has a lot of union support (inexplicably, so many firefighters unions), as well as basically all the former Democrat Secretary of States and Treasurers.

I really like Manning. He strikes me as one of those civil servants who got into politics because he really wants to make a change; he has a good heart and is doing good work for his district. I would say his weakness is in his communication. I watched the City Club of Central Oregon candidate forum and The Urban League of Portland candidate forum, and in both, Manning was outclassed by Read's cogent, experience-based answers.

One example is their respective commentary on if and how they would use public funds for targeted voter education programs in specific communities. This question was asked in the Urban League of Portland candidate forum, here.

Manning's response was simply him reminding us that he's had many commendations as an auditor in the US Army, and that "we need to do a lot more work in these areas." It was a non-answer.

Read also referred to his past experience, but in this case he tied it neatly into his actual answer. He talked about developing the Oregon College Savings Program and how they noticed that the people who typically save for college don't look like the overall demographic of Oregon, and realized that the missing groups were people who have low trust in the government. He connected that to voter education programs, and while saying there needs to be strict standards on how public dollars could be used, he ended with: "Oftentimes government is not the best messenger for communities who haven't been served well. I think we should be humble enough to ask questions and partner with groups that can help deliver messages effectively, efficiently on a nonpartisan basis to help people feel confident, equipped, interested in participating in our Democratic processes."

Read exhibited true thoughtfulness about the issues and communicated his proposed solutions solidly. Manning felt like he was floundering to find coherent sound bites deviating from the standard proclamation of his Army service and personal integrity. And while that experience is impressive and I can't find anything to make me doubt his integrity, it can't make up for his inability to converse on specifics of the role for which he's running.

I would have loved to have voted for our first Black Secretary of State, and I really hope that Manning continues his political career and keeps working his way to the top, but Read seems much more equipped for the position as of now.

State Treasurer: Elizabeth Steiner

Elizabeth Steiner is a current Portland-based State Senator who is the Co-Chair of the Ways & Means Committee – the group that determines state budget policy. Steiner has been a chief budget writer for the state of Oregon since 2018.

We have Steiner to thank in part for increased funding for affordable housing, the expansion of OHP to cover every child in the state, and the creation of our statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave Program. She is a physician who understands social determinants of health and wants to be Treasurer so she can fight a leading cause of poor health: financial insecurity.

Steiner is running against Jeff Gudman, who has lost the Treasurer race to Tobias Read twice as a Republican and decided that a better way to win would be to register as a Democrat. Gross! Here's how he's justifying his flip-flop:

"Of his switch in party affiliation, he said he viewed the role of state treasurer as nonpartisan and that his values and expertise haven’t changed. He also noted that it’s easier to win a statewide election as a Democrat than as a Republican. However, he said, if elected, he wouldn’t use the position as a stepping stone for a higher office."

So if his values and expertise haven't changed, then...he's admitting he's still a Republican underneath his Democrat registration, right? Ugh.

I watched the City Club of Portland's candidate forum and let me tell you, it is such a joy to witness a highly intelligent, competent woman speaking so coherently on the issues. We would be so lucky to have Elizabeth Steiner as our Treasurer!

Attorney General: Shaina Maxey Pomerantz

I'm voting for Shaina Maxey Pomerantz because having a Black Jewish woman, lawyer, and community advocate in the position of Attorney General is the kind of world I want to see.

Pomerantz's platform includes all the basic progressive talking points – common sense gun control, police reform/education, protecting civil rights and the environment. She wants to establish a dedicated Civil Rights Division within the DOJ, and to adopt more preventative and collaborative approaches across the board, to avoid unnecessary tax payer expense and stress to our communities.

Pomerantz is running against Dan Rayfield, civil litigator and current Speaker of the House of Oregon Representatives. Rayfield is very wonky (which I love – you want nerds in these roles) and seems to have a humble attitude, seeking to be educated in the areas where he doesn't have lived experience – especially when it comes to the racial discrimination leveled against BIPOC Oregonians on the daily.

I watched the Urban League of Portland candidate forum and the Oregonian forum and was impressed by both candidates. They were both obviously impressed with each other – lots of nodding and smiling, and even referring back in agreement to things the other said. It was sweet.

What sets Pomerantz apart, I think, is that her lived experience and her years community advocacy give her a kind of People First, bottom up approach to the role. Over and over, she reiterated concern for how our laws impact individuals and communities, and the need to address root causes with a preventative and proactive approach. Just listen to her talk about HB 4002 – it's some of the most nuanced commentary on the repeal of Measure 111 (and the fallout of the recriminalization of drug possession) that I've heard.

I like Rayfield and I wouldn't be mad if he ended up as our AG. But Pomerantz brings the experience – as a Black woman, and also as a community organizer and educator – that will immediately humanize the role of Attorney General. For me, that gives her the edge.

State Congressfolk

State Senator, 27th District: Anthony Broadman
State Representative, 53rd District: Emerson Levy
State Representative, 54th District: Jason Kropf
These candidates are all running unopposed in this closed primary, so I'll talk more about them in the general election Voting Guide – see you then! :)

Judges R Us

Looks like all the judge candidates in my Voters Pamphlet are running unopposed, so no research here; we're stuck with them whether we like them or not!

Congratulations, you voted!

Alrighty, folks, that's your voting guide. Share it wherever you share things, and encourage all your friends to vote all the way down ballot. Β πŸ’™β€‹