2021 Special Election Voting Guide: Deschutes County - May 18, 2021
Who to vote for in Deschutes County Special Election May 18, 2021. School Board, Parks & Rec, Bend, Redmond, La Pine, Sisters.
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My vote recommendations are based on my own research and do not represent any entity's opinions but my own. I vote liberal/democrat/progressive. When other factors are equal, I favor the candidate that is the least cis/hetero/male/white/old; who is aware of and working on their own implicit biases; and who is committed to improving equity, accessibility, and inclusivity within their jurisdiction.
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 beliefs, I would appreciate your input!
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I'm using the Voter's Pamphlet that you can find here. Your ballot was mailed to you on April 28. If you think it has gotten lost in the mail, or 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 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 available 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 the statewide candidates and measures.
Your ballot must be mailed no later than Tuesday, May 11, to arrive at the Deschutes County Election Office by 8:00 pm on Election Day (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 April 30.
Ballot Measure 9-141: YES
Issues a bond for the Sisters School Distric to construct, renovate, and improve facilities. This includes a desperately needed new K-5 elementary school and turns the old elementary school into a community center. It won't increase taxes as it replaces the old high school bond. Win-win!
Ballot Measure 9-142: YES
Improves and increases staffing for the Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection District, by levying $1.35 per $1,000 of Assessed Home Value (not market value!) for 5 years. The Cloverdale district will remain mostly volunteer-supported, but the increased budget will allow for stationing 2 full time firefighter-medics (currently, the only paid responders are stationed between 8am-5pm) and Paramedics with Advanced Life Support training. The latter seems especially important, as the nearest ER is about 25 miles away!
Ultimately, this is the decision of the residents of the CRFPD - are they willing to spend a little extra in real estate taxes (about $135 per year for the next 5 years) to ensure their emergency responders are equipped to quickly and effectively help save lives and property.
Ballot Measure 9-143: YES
Funds the La Pine Park & Recreation District with expanded/improved programs and facilities by levying 27 cents per $1000 of Assessed Home Value (not market value!) for 5 years. Parks and Rec programs are always worth funding - especially at an estimated $54/year for a wealth of health and leisure opportunities!
The Source Weekly has video interviews with nearly every candidate on the ballot, as does the League of Women Voters.
School Board votes - and an inadvertent essay
I really thought this was going to be an easy Voting Guide. But as I started researching the candidates for school board, I realized there's a much bigger issue at play that I want to make sure everyone is aware of. I was going to put it here, but it got really wordy, so I made it its own essay over here.
Please read it; It's crucial to see what is happening now, so we can head it off at the pass.
Conservative groups have long been infiltrating local political positions – especially the school board, as it has so much influence on kids and families – so that they can stem the tide of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (derided as "political correctness," "wokeness," or "socialism"), which they see as a threat.
If you live in Oregon and haven't educated yourself on our egregiously white supremacist, viciously racist history, or know that the Pacific Northwest is supposed to turn into the last bastion of the white race, according to the Northwest Front, start doing your work.
These groups are actively working to make their agenda a reality, and since 2015 and the GOP's increasingly overt embrace of white supremacy and christofacist nationalism, they're feeling newly invigorated. They've already gotten the conservative Christian homeschool movement to give themselves over to white nationalism wholesale. And now they're taking advantage of the pandemic to push run of the mill conservatives just a little bit farther toward their goals, particularly on school boards this year.
Delaware's current school board race is a prime example - they've got a PAC blatantly displaying a Gadsen ("Don't Tread On Me") flag, and their talking points are all pandemic-related: anti-masks, anti-vaccine mandates, and unequivocally "Kids Back."
I don't imagine that many – if any – of our Schoolboard2021 candidates realize that they're being used this way. I am not yet cynical enough to think the individuals in our Voters' Pamphlet entered the school board race with the conscious agenda to protect the Aryan race.
But, that's what is at the heart of this. I'm not overstating it. Anyway, read my essay and vote for these candidates:
Administrative School District No 1 Director, Zone 1: Carrie McPherson Douglass
Administrative School District No 1 Director, Zone 2: Marcus LeGrand
Administrative School District No 1 Director, Zone 4: Shirley Olson
Administrative School District No 1 Director, Zone 7: Janet Sarai Llerandi
Bend Metro Park and Recreation Distric Director, Position 3: Lauren Nowierski-Stadnick
Nowierski-Stadnick is running against incumbent Nathan Hovekamp who has done a wonderful job in his tenure at BPRD. It would be tempting to keep Hovekamp in place in perpetuity.
But here we have the opportunity to help launch the fledgling political career of a well qualified woman who will retain very similar values and priorities as the incumbent we all admire. I'm going to endorse the hell out of that!
Too many qualified women don't get the vote because "she needs more experience." The Parks and Rec board is a great place to start learning about the inner workings of the machine, and adding a freshman here isn't going to put the BPRD's current mission in jeopardy.
Bend Metro Park and Recreation Distric Director, Position 4: Zavier Borja
Zavier Borja has a contagious joy and passion for the projects he commits to – and there are a lot of them! Along with positions on an extensive list of boards and committees, Borja is the founder and program coordinator for both the Central Oregon branch of Latino Outdoors, and his own initiative, Vámonos Outside.
Borja is exactly the kind of person I want to see take on more roles in shaping our community. I hope that this begins for him a long career in politics!
Bend Metro Park and Recreation Distric Director, Position 5: Deb Schoen
If I'm understanding correctly, Schoen has been serving the BPRD in an appointed role, and is now running for the vote. She is highly qualified and credentialed and is a strong incumbent worth keeping.
Keep your eye on her opponent Elizabeth Hughes Weide, whose education and qualifications make her a valuable asset to the BPRD. I would love to see her run again!
Central Oregon Community College Director, Zones 3 & 4: Alan Unger & Erica Skatvold
They're incumbents running unopposed.
Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection Distric Director, Position 4: Deanne Dement
Dement is a 20+ year volunteer responder in the district and the incumbent. Her opponent, Michelle Stutzman, is the Ministry Coordinator and Administrator for Vast Church. I don't vote for Evangelicals, not even for the fire district. Especially not when there's a candidate who openly believes the facts about the election results and the pandemic.
Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection Distric Director, Position 5: Cindy Kettering
Kettering is the incumbent and the Deputy Fire Marshal of Bend Fire & Rescue. (Fun fact: Cindy is short for Cinnamon and I cannot love that enough!)
Deschutes County Rural Fire Protection District No 2, Director, Position 2: Oliver Tatom
I enthusiastically endorsed Tatom when he ran for COCC Board in 2019, and I'm happy to see him expanding his political experience. He's an RN, a former paramedic, and is the RN Supervisor of Clinical Operations at the La Pine Immediate Care clinic. With this background, he can support our first responders and make decisions that benefit the district.
Deschutes Public Library District Director, Zone 3: Martha Lawler
Lawler is the incumbent and current Board President. I don't see a compelling reason to replace her, unless you want to interrupt the Central Library branch plans – Lawler's opponent's Anne M Ness, seems to have an anti-Central Library platform.
Last year's library bond was a contentious item on the local down-ballot, and I had friends I respect on both sides of the conversation. I ultimately chose to trust the library board and the wealth of research and information they provided.
If you're skeptical about the spending of the library bond, you mght want to go with Ness, who may be more fiscally conservative. Not that the current library board are reckless! The bond we voted for last fall is the first money they've asked for in 22 years. They purchased the land for the Central Library without incurring debt!
La Pine Votes
You can watch the candidates' forum here.
La Pine Rural Fire Protection District Director, Position 1: Robin Lannan Adams
La Pine Rural Fire Protection District Director, Position 2: Rex Lesueur
You can watch the Redmond Kiwanis' School Board Candidates' Forum here (Lacey Butts, Michael Summers, Shawn Hartfield and Lavon Medlock) and here (Stephanie Hunter, Jill Cummings, Oscar Gonzalez and Keri Lopez). Some candidates declined the invitation.
You can watch the Source Weekly's Parks and Rec candidates here.
Redmond Area Park and Recreation District Director, Position 1: Matt Gilman
Gilman is the incumbent and has done a great job for the last 4 years preparing for growing the district's offerings; give him the next 4 years to see the work through.
His opponent doesn't seem to have a platform except this unfortunate phrase "protect our family values." That's a white supremacist dog whistle, and if the candidate is using it unawares, he's not ready for politics in this day and age. If he's using it purposefully, well, then really do not vote for him!
Redmond Area Park and Recreation District Director, Position 2: Lena Berry
Berry was the only candidate in the Source candidates' forum who unequivocally stated that Redmond's parks should be a gun free zone. That right there is enough for me to endorse. But Berry is also actively involved in Redmond's Popup Kitchen Collective, feeding the unhoused people in town, unapologetically progressive and inclusive in her daily life. She's the kind of person I'd love to see keep moving upward from the Parks position.
Redmond School District 2J Director, Position 1: Stephanie Hunter
Hunter is a Behavior Professional with the Opportunity Foundation and already works with schools and families to help kids. She has an excellent skillset for interfacing with parents and schools, and has a ton of professional connections that will help get kids the support they need. Hunter is also endorsed by Clifford Evelyn and James Cook - two Redmond community leaders whose opinions I respect.
Her opponent, Shawn Hartfield filled out the Abigail Adamns Questionnaire and some of her answers disqualified her from my endorsement. Hartfield "Disagrees" with Oregon SB 683, which would require Oregon to teach the facts about our country and our state's racist history in school. And she "Strongly Agrees" with "Excluding political views, sexual orientation, and religious (or anti-religious) topics from the classroom," because, she notes "These are social issues not educational issues."
Redmond School District 2J Director, Position 2: Michelle Salinas
Salinas has the educational and professional background to help navigate Redmond schools through responsibly using the bond that was passed last year.
Her opponent, Lacy Butt's platform seems to be a flavor of "Kids Back" that I find distasteful and harmful. Opponent Michael Summers has some very troubling answers on his Abigail Adams Questionnaire ("I strongly appose (sic) SB 683 and do not approve of the distortion of American history for divisive purposes"). Opponent Rachel Visinoni is the COVID-19 deniers' candidate, so, No.
Redmond School District 2J Director, Position 3: Lavon Medlock
Medlock emphasizes a safe, compassionate, and equitable learning environment, and brings both her education in public health as well as her experience as a mother of bi-racial children to the job.
Opponent Jill Cummings is running on a vaguely "Kids Back" platform, and it feels like she's more about student achievement/success as "measurable standards" (testing), rather than a student- and mental health-centered approach. Opponent Ron Osmundson believes that SB 683 (teaching the factual history of the racism in the US and Oregon) "spreads more hate and division and indoctrinates students to become more hateful." No thanks!
Redmond School District 2J Director, Position 4: Oscar Gonzalez
Gonzalez is a local social worker with an impressive history of educational support in the community and is the Empowerment Programs Manager for the Latino Community Association of Central Oregon. He's got the experience, passion, and - most importantly - the trust of the Latinx community, to make an excellent bridge-building on the Board.
I do want to shoutout one of his opponents, Carmen Lawson. I think she would be an excellent addition to the board; it's unfortunate that she's running against Gonzalez this election, and I hope she runs again!
Sisters School Distric 6 Director, Position 1: Jenica Cogdill
Cogdill is well qualified and well prepared. She would also be only the second out of 5 board members who have students in the district, and one of only two women on the board. Her background in consulting and public relations will help her manage district budgeting and communications.
In this interview with Sisters' Nugget Newspaper, I discovered that Cogdill's opponent, Rodney Cooper, hasn't even read the bond measure for the new elementary school, and thinks that in-person summer school will be the best way for students to make up learning loss from 2020. I'm not impressed.