November 2020 Oregon votes

multinomah county ballot envelope

Unlike most other states, nobody in Oregon is waiting in hour-long lines for early voting. That's because we vote 100% by mail, a system that has worked so well that even the Oregon Republicans voted to improve it this year (with one glaring exception, below). So I had a leisurely Sunday morning to get my votes in order and decide who to endorse. Then off to the library to drop off my ballot.

Below are who and what I voted for, with some notes on why. Use it to inform your own voting. My information on issues and candidates comes from: the Voter Booklets, the Willie Week, the Portland Mercury, and the Portland Tribune.

people I'm voting for

  • President: Biden. Duh.
  • Senate: Merkeley. Pretty much up and down the line votes the way I'd want him to: climate change, anti-gerrymandering, anti-lobbying.
  • Representative: Blumenauer. Possibly the most progressive US Rep who's not a woman of color.
  • Secretary of State: Fagan. Her opponent, Thatcher, would attempt to eliminate our great system of mail-in voting if elected. So a vote for Fagan is a vote to be able to vote again.
  • Attorney General: Rosenblum. She's a civil rights attorney and judge running against a neo-fascist hack with zero political experience.
  • Treasurer: Read. He's done a great job of reforming Oregon finances to save us a ton of money, let's give him a chance to keep doing it.
  • State Senate, House: Dembrow and Warner. Both running unopposed, which isn't great (hey, all you "Pacific Greens", maybe run for an office you have a real chance at?) but neither has screwed up badly enough for a no-vote.
  • Mayor: Innarone. I've always opposed Wheeler as a silver-spoon chosen son who can't handle adversity, and this last year has borne me out on that. While Innarone is far from ideal, and Wheeler has made some progress on housing, he will be an obstacle to peace in Portland as long as he's police commissioner, and with pro-cop Mapps on the ballot we can't afford that. If you can't bear Innarone, I suggest writing in Teresa Railford.
  • City Council: Eudaly. She's make some serious mistakes in her first term, but Mapps is essentially running his campaign with and for the Portland Police Union. He will push for an expanded police force with expanded powers to beat people up. He's also likely to endorse NIMBY regulations that roll back a lot of the progress we've made on housing in the last 3 years.
  • Metro: Chris Smith. As much as Nolan is probably the better person all-around, she appears to be running for Metro as a parking spot until she can run for another higher office. Whereas Smith cares deeply about Metro transit policy.
  • East Water District: Zimmer-Stuckey, Rossi, Carlson, and Eisele, based entirely on their voter phamphlet profiles.
  • Judges: All incumbents, plus Brown. Electing judges is stupid and leads to unbalanced law enforcement. So you should always endorse sitting judges if you can, because that way they spend their time in the courtroom and not campaigning. For the one open seat, both candidates are really really good. I voted Brown because she has a better track record being successful defending civil rights in the courtroom, but would be happy with either judge that wins.

ballot measures

  • State 107: Yes. Permits (but does not implement) laws limiting spending on state races for the first time in Oregon's history, as well as requiring some additional transparency. Oregon has more "dark money" in politics than any other state our size; let's fix that.
  • State 108: No. This tobacco tax steeply ($2) increases the price of a pack of cigarettes, at a time when 1/5th of our blue-coller workforce has been recently laid off. And despite advertising, most of the money just goes to the General Fund.
  • State 109: Yes. There was never any good reason for "magic mushrooms" to be illegal in the first place.
  • State 110: Yes. Rolls back the "war on drugs" in the most dramatic way we've seen since 1978. Will help end the prison-drugs-prison cycle, as well as saving us tons of money on police enforcement and prisons.
  • Local 26-211, Library Bond: Yes. While I have a bone to pick with current library administration, it's still true that Multinomah has one of the most popular and cost-efficient library systems in America. This is the first bond they've asked for in a long time, and will allow us to take advantage of COVID closures to work on much-needed expansions of library branches.
  • Local 26-214, Free Preschool: Yes. I will personally end up paying this high-earner tax, and I have no children. But it still makes sense; free preschool both helps women re-enter the workforce and leads to more educated kids. Plus the actual budget is modest.
  • Local 26-213: Parks Levy: Yes. One of the greatest things about Portland is our huge system of local and regional parks. But without use fee income (COVID), a lot of them are falling apart. It's worth fixing them up, and if you hate paying the tax, well, a nearby nice park enhances your property values. Plus it's a levy, not a bond, so we're not paying interest on it.
  • Local 26-217: Police Accountability: YES!!! The biggest problem with Portland's police has been the total lack of effective civillian oversight. In short, it has never been possible to discipline the bad cops so that the good ones can do their jobs. While this measure doesn't do everything, it's a huge step in the direction of making the PPD work for the citizens of Portland instead of working for themselves.
  • Local 26-218: Transport Tax: No. With us going into a recession and 10% of the poplation already laid off, a 0.75% payroll tax (meaning an up to 1.7% decrease in actual take-home money for working folks) is way too high, and will result in further layoffs and small business closures. Given that at least half that money is just to build a train line to Tigard, it's simply not worth it.
  • Local 26-219: Water Parks Funds: No. It's simply too dangerous to allow the Water Bureau to use funds for anything other that providing water, no matter how trivial. We're voting Portland Parks a huge levy to take care of parklands; they can cover the water parks rather than adding it to our already preposterous water bills.
  • Local 26-215: School Bond: No. We voted in the "once-in-a-lifetime" $800m bond four years ago because PPS promised us it would fix 30 years of neglect and they wouldn't need to ask again. And yet, here they are, asking again, having failed to do most of the work that the original bond was paying for. PPS needs to learn to budget, and we need to close the purse strings until they do.

Hope that helps you make up your mind, or at least remember what races you're voting in.