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2022 Primary Election Voting Guide: Deschutes County - May 17, 2022

2022 Primary Election Voting Guide: Deschutes County - May 17, 2022

Who to vote for in Deschutes County Primary Election May 17, 2022. Governor, Senator, U.S. Rep, Bend, Redmond, La Pine, Sisters.

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! ‌


My vote recommendations are based on my own research and do not represent any entity's opinions but my own. I vote progressive/liberal/democrat. 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. (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.

I'm sorry for those people of integrity whose identity has been Republican, but now is the 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.

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 at least 40 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: 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, 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 17, 2022." 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 was mailed to you on April 27. 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 Oregon-wide candidates and measures. Oregon is a closed primary, so you will only see the candidates running in the party for which you're registered.

Your ballot must be postmarked on Election Day - May 17 - 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 April 29.

Oregon Senator: Ron Wyden

Am I excited to be voting for good ol' Ron to enter his 5th term as US Senator? No, I am not. I'm irritated by old cis/het white men running everything. Unfortunately, the other choices are, yet again, old and/or unqualified white men, and Ron is still the better vote. Here's why I won't vote for the other guys.

Brent Thompson's platform is extremely anti-growth and weirdly places the blame on immigration, as if immigrants (other than the original colonizers, of course) are the greatest perpetrators of harm to BIPOC people, rather than, you know, continual systemic oppression.

It's really a shame, because Thompson has done good work in Ashland, on their Planning Commission and City Council. I love that he's a big proponent of walkable cities, infill rather than sprawl, and multimodal transportation.

I have no idea why Thompson is running for senator and why he thinks bringing the US to zero immigration/growth is the answer to all our ills. I'd love to see him take this fixation on sustainable, liveable, walkable cities and aim it toward more local planning, where he'd be a wonderful asset. In no way do his ideas qualify him for competent federal leadership.

I do have to give him props for being the only candidate I've ever seen who's had a shirtless pic of himself on his candidate website!

William E Barlow III sounds pretty reasonable in his Voters' Pamphlet blurb, but he has ideas on his website that range from bonkers-out-of-touch-with-reality to truly dangerous.

Bonkers: Is he really saying that HIPAA is the reason American healthcare is so godawful? And his take on "Healthcare for All Americans" is to just make it easier to become a doctor?  

(Just FYI, American healthcare is a mess mostly because it is gatekept by predatory for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Increasing the number of doctors or abolishing privacy protections isn't going to help more people access unaffordable care.)  

Dangerous: What I cannot fathom is Barlow's promise to expand the ADA to "protect" the LGBTQ+ community (and others – does he mean communities of color?) from discrimination. First of all, the ADA is basically toothless and does very little to protect disabled people from discrimination. Secondly, classifying being LGBTQ+ or BIPOC as a disability is beyond regressive and dangerous. It's a giant step toward the kind of eugenics the GOP is gleefully trying (and too often succeeding) to legislate right now.

I can't tell if William E Barlow III is a complete fool, or a malicious agent but he for sure shouldn't be our US Senator.

US Representative, 5th District - Jamie McLeod-Skinner

McLeod-Skinner captured my attention during her 2018 run for US Representative. She was the first candidate opposing 20-year incumbent Greg Walden to win more than 30% of the vote, and she did so by relentlessly pursuing the hearts and minds of conservative and moderate Eastern Oregon voters. Her ground game was impressive and I was also personally thrilled by the opportunity to vote for a queer woman who is a complete and total nerd for the inner workings of government. She is a fantastic progressive candidate that we're lucky to have running for this open seat in a new district.

McLeod-Skinner is running against Kurt Schrader. I don't know why Schrader calls himself a Democrat. He was one of two "Democrats" who voted against the $2000 stimulus checks in December 2020 and the pandemic relief bill in March 2021 (citing the appended raise of the minimum wage). He voted against allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices (and has been rewarded by massive amounts of Big Pharma funding to his campaign). He also famously called the idea of impeaching Trump for inciting the Jan 6 insurrection a "lynching."

Oregon Governor - Tina Kotek

Our gubernatorial race is where everything for Oregon hangs in the balance. The Republicans running for office range from single issue 2A/forced birth ultra-conservatives to outright wacko conspiracy theorists. The GOP doesn't have a great recent track record of following the rule of law or common decency; many of them seem determined to only create chaos and harm.

Under Republican rule, Oregon would become an even more unsafe and inequitable place for minorities and the LGBTQ+ community.

As former Oregon House Speaker (and the US's first-ever openly lesbian House Speaker!), Kotek has the most experience of all the candidates, and the most endorsements. She's tough, smart, principled, and a total government wonk.

She's also ruthless in a way that her top competitor, Tobias Read, is not.

I like Read just fine, and he may well make a good governor. I imagine it's going to be either him or Kotek on the ballot this fall and I won't object too strongly if it's Read. I just worry that he's still under the delusion that he can work with obstructionists and will lose ground to them in attempts at consensus building.

Kotek won't give an inch to bad actors, and I believe that's the kind of leader we need as our democracy is under attack.

Measure 9-144 - Sunriver Service Distric 10-year Local Option Levy: YES

As you know, I'm a proponent of funding local emergency services with the property taxes of those who are most likely to benefit from those services: the people who own property in the area. This levy will increase property taxes by 47 cents per $1000 of assessed property value for 10 years, to cover the needs of this rapidly growing area.

Measure 9-145 - Bonds to Build New Redmond Police Department Facilities: NO

There's no argument that the current PD facility is smaller and older than the Redmond Police would prefer. I'm sure the new facility would be very nice. But telling you to vote yes on this measure is against my principle to Defund the Police.

This proposed bond would raise FORTY MILLION DOLLARS. Imagine what 40 million dollars could do for the citizens of Redmond if it was invested in the immediate needs of its citizens.

There are approximately 2500 adults living under the poverty line in Redmond right now, including 200 houseless people. Redmond could invest $500/month for each of those people for the next 2.5 years, and expect to see a decrease in crime rates, stabilized housing, an increase in health and wellbeing, increased school attendance and all the other benefits associated with giving people money who need it most.

Redmond's never gonna offer a basic income to anyone. This measure will most likely pass*, and the town will continue in its ineffective, carceral attempts to minimize crime. The least you can do is make a protest vote.

*Although, Redmond is such a mixed bag of "All Hail Our Police" and "Stop Taxing Me!" it may be difficult to call!

Measure 9-146 - Cloverdale RFPD Staffing: YES

Since last year's measure failed to pass and they're back to ask for a smaller, "bare bones" budget. This time, it's a 5-year levy to increase taxes by 69 cents per $1000 of assessed property value. The district will remain mostly voluteer-driven, but these funds will ensure at least one qualified Fire Officer can attend each incident to guide the volunteers. I think it's dumb that the last measure didn't pass, as it was also going to ensure there was a staffed ambulance at the station too, but I guess the Cloverdale fire district folks like to play it risky with their long term survival!

Note: Some of the following candidates may not be in your ballot, because they are running unopposed within their party.

County Commissioner Position #1: ​Oliver Tatom

I've been a fan of Tatom since he ran for COCC board in 2019, and I said then that he was someone to watch as he takes on more public servant roles. Now he's worked his way up to running for County Commissioner! He's a Central Oregon native and has spent his career working with a wide variety of community members. He will represent our diverse population well and will make wise decisions regarding the inevitable future growth of our county.

County Commissioner Position #3: Morgan Schmidt

Morgan first came on my radar when she began Pandemic Partners, a Facebook group dedicated to crowdsourcing kindness and support within the Bend community. I was impressed by her mediation skills (social media and online forums being what they are) and the influence of decency she had there. Schmidt has led and joined initiatives to help our houseless neighbors, and as County Commissioner, her Housing First philosophy will be essential in making long term changes in our community.

Deschutes County Assessor: ​Scot Langton

Langton has had this role since 2001 and hasn't garnered any complaints. Although this is a "nonpartisan" position (there's no such thing), I always try to find out what the candidates' politics are, since those will most definitely inform their decisions. Scot has made payments for this election cycle to a strategy group with overtly progressive values and that won't work with anyone not in alignment with those values. That's a good sign, in my book!

State Representative, 53rd District: Emerson Levy

Levy is an attorney with experience as a public defender, workers' comp hearings, and real estate law. She's the mother of a child with special health needs and has empathy for working parents struggling to keep their families healthy, housed, and educated. Levy's priorities are those that affect all Central Oregonians and she will work to improve life and livelihoods for all.

Levy's Republican opponent, Michael Sipe, compares compares Covid-19 vaccination to...heroin addiction, I think? He proudly voted for Trump and states "My allegiance is God, country, family, friends, clients and community. In that order." By my estimation, almost everyone Sipe claims he wants to serve in the state legislature is last on his list of priorities.

That Sipe is loyal to his god over his country and community makes him unqualified to adequately represent our diverse district's beliefs and values.

State Representative, 54th District: Jason Kropf

Kropf is our current representative and he's done a great job so far! In 2021, he helped bring in $4.5M for a navigation center and a year-round shelter in Bend; $13.8M to construct a Student Success Center at OSU-Cascades; and expanded our circuit court with two new much-needed Deschutes County judges. Kropf is a dedicated public servant whom we're lucky to have representing us. Let's work together to keep him in office.

State Representative, 55th District: Brian Lepore

Lepore is a Bend farmer with his PhD in soil science. I think he's an excellent candidate because he knows first hand many of the issues this agricultural, wildfire-prone, chronically impoverished district that runs from the outskirts of Bend clear to Klamath Falls.

Lepore's Republican opponent, E. Werner Reschke, has a track record of voting No on basically anything that will actually help people in his district. He voted against the  bill enforcing overtime pay for agricultural workers (thankfully, it passed anyway!); he helped kill a bill that would have allowed incarcerated people the right to vote; during the pandemic, he voted against telemedicine and against relief payments to low-income Oregon households (of which his district has many). Republican lawmakers consistently work against the good of their people, and Reschke is no exception. Vote Lepore.

"Nonpartisan Party Candidates"

I really hate this practice of not disclosing partisanship for certain roles. Yeah, maybe in an ideal world, someone running for judge would not use their political or religious beliefs as a lens for interpreting the law. But humans are incapable of bias; I think it's only fair we require the people making life-changing decisions on our behalf to tell us what their biases are.

Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries: Christina Stephenson

Stephenson is a civil rights attorney who has for years been helping businesses with compliance and defending workers' rights all over the state of Oregon. This is a perfect next step in her career and I (and an impressive and diverse list of endorsers) think she'll make a great BOLI commissioner.

I want to also give a shoutout to Casey Kulla, for whom I'd be voting if it wasn't for Stephenson blowing all the candidates out of the water. I really, really hope Kulla continues to run for state office in Oregon – we need more rural progressives helping to bring quality of life to their areas!

Justice of the Supreme Court, Position 6: Roger J DeHoog

DeHoog is running unopposed, so tick that box or not; it won't matter! He's a former Deschutes County Circuit Court judge and was appointed to Oregon's supreme court by Governor Brown in early 2022. Now he has to run to be elected to that same position. Fun fact: He is the second Asian Pacific American to serve on the Oregon Supreme Court (having replaced the first AAPI Supreme Court Judge, Lynn R. Nakamoto!).

Judge of the Court of Appeals, Position 3: Darleen Ortega

Ortega is the incumbent with a shining reputation for her thoughtful compassion, accountability, and humility. She teaches at all 3 Oregon law schools a course called Access To Justice. In it, Judge Ortega "aims to equip students with the tools and language to think cogently about privilege, systems of power and dominance, and racism and other forms of oppression and how they affect the justice system in the U.S." She's got all the qualities of an exemplary judge; we want her to stay.

Fun fact: Ortega also writes movie and theater reviews for the Portland Observer!

And now, the farce I'm talking about these being "nonpartisan" positions: Ortega's opponent is Vance Day, the former president of the evangelical parachurch monstrosity, Promise Keepers and the current Of Counsel of the James Madison Center for Freedom of Speech, which was founded by Mitch McConnell in 1997 with help from Betsy and Richard DeVos (alarm bells ringing yet?).

He chose to quote Clarence Thomas in his voters' pamphlet blurb, says that there's plenty of diversity in the current court (he's running against the first woman of color and only Latina to serve as an appellate judge in Oregon) and what's truly lacking is diversity in "judicial philosophy." He also claims that (dog whistle alert) "cancel culture looms large in our society today."

There's literally nothing bipartisan about any of this; with all his references and allusions, he's sending a coded message that he's actually hyperpartisan to the GOP. He says he's "not an activist," but all of his work is being poured into a very narrow field of specific (often anti-democratic) beliefs and values.

It gets way worse, though! Vance Day shouldn't even be able to run for this position.

Here's why: "In 2018, the Oregon Supreme Court suspended [Vance Day] for three years after the state’s judicial fitness commission found a series of ethical violations. Three years earlier, in 2015, the commission recommended Day’s removal from the bench altogether."

The complaints included:

  • his selective refusal to marry gay couples
  • hanging a portrait of Adolf Hitler in the Marion County courthouse (!)
  • facilitating the handling of a firearm by a convicted felon on active supervised probation
  • lying about the above situation
  • abuse of power and authority (threatening/bullying at his son's soccer game)

The commission recommended removal from the bench with this statement:

"Judge Day's pattern of behavior includes misconduct for personal gain and misconduct amounting to criminal behavior. Judge Day shows no outward sign of comprehending the extent or nature of his ethical violations. His misconduct is of such a nature as to impugn his honesty and integrity. Finally, Judge Day's conduct before, during and after the Commission's investigation undermines the public's confidence in the judiciary."

I hope enough people bother to vote down ballot so we don't lose the wonderful Judge Ortega to this criminal. Please tell your friends!

Judges of the Court of Appeals and Circuit Court, various districts/positions

All of these judges are running unopposed (and look good to me), so go ahead and tick them all.

Deschutes County DA: Undecided/Doesn't matter

Steve Gunnels is the only guy running, so he's going to be our new DA regardless of what we think about it. I really wish there had been more candidates to choose from, but the last few years have shown what a thankless job District Attorney is in Bend.

What I don't like about Gunnels is that he's somehow not ashamed of being endorsed by Lt. Eric Beckwith, the Redmond Police officer who has been sued 3 times in the last two years for sexist, racist and unprofessional behavior, threatening violence and encouraging bullying, and for retaliatory termination of two officers. I'm sure that as deputy DA, Gunnels has had lots of interation with Beckwith, and I would expect any DA to have a working relationship with LE. But the choice to associate your name with that guy is...quite the choice.

If you're a Bend Bulletin subscriber, you can read about Beckwith's shenanigans here. If not, hopefully this 12ft ladder will get you over the paywall.

Something that gives me a little hope about Gunnels is that he's paying Imperium Political Strategies/Meadowlark Bookkeeping and Run for Oregon for work on his campaign. These are progressive, women-led companies that work with like-minded candidates. I hope that is a better indicator of Gunnels values than his connection to Beckwith.

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. We have important ground we cannot afford to lose.  💙​