U.S. Senate (Democratic Party):
This is a slamdunk. Merkley has proven to be an impressive advocate for reasonable forest service policies and has been outspoken against NSA's surveillance programs.
U.S. Senate (Republican Party):
There are a number of candidates running in the Republican primary for Senate who haven't made a statewide impact—and many who are more about grandstanding for outlying issues than looking after state-wide or national issues, with candidates like Mark Callahan believing that global warming is a myth. Really, the race narrows down to state Rep. Jason Conger and Dr. Monica Wehby, a Portland pediatric neurosurgeon. Both candidates advocate right-of-center policies: a balanced budget amendment, believe that the Affordable Care Act should be rolled back and want to better police the U.S. border prior to reworking the nation's immigration policy. Both also say that they're personally opposed to abortion. A toss-up, we favor the local for the remote opportunity for Central Oregon to have its first representative in the U.S. Senate in decades.
Second Congressional District
Not one of the three candidates stands out as the strong option to challenge Walden. Ashland-based candidate Barney Spera is the only candidate with previous experience as an elected official, as the mayor of Millbrae, Calif. But that was at a time before Jimmy Carter was president. Spera is a proponent of a $15 minimum wage—not a stepped increase, but a swift, one-off hike, a proposal likely not to sit well with a huge swath of business owners in Central Oregon. Sunriver resident Charles "Frank" Vulliet boasts a background as an attorney, but hasn't previously held elected office. While at the Source office this week, he talked at length about procedural issues, but did not exude the confidence to unseat an incumbent. Bendite Aelea Christofferson has been a successful businesswoman and a board member of Cover Oregon—which, yes, was massively ill-fated, but she has exhibited a long-standing understanding and passion for reducing health care costs. She lacks campaign experience, but is moderate enough to attract middle-of-the-road voters turned off by Walden's increasingly uber-conservative viewpoints.
Second Congressional District
(Republican Primary): GREG WALDEN
For the past term, Walden has been lock-step with the most extreme conservatives and Washington insiders, although he displayed some ability to reach across the aisle when he worked with Democrats to craft bipartisan solutions for proper economic and environmental use and protection of federal forests.
Running for his second consecutive and fourth full term, Kitzhaber continues to be a strongly backed governor—so much so that he has only one long, long-shot challenger in his own party, and most high-profile Republicans passed on an opportunity to run against him. As if his popularity couldn't soar any more, last Monday, the former emergency doctor pulled his car over in Portland to perform CPR on a woman who had collapsed, and stopped breathing, on the sidewalk. He restored her breathing by the time paramedics arrived. Yeah, pretty heroic!
Deschutes County District Attorney: JOHN HUMMEL
John Hummel has referenced his time helping to usher in a modern justice system in Liberia as project manager for the Carter Center throughout his campaign for Deschutes County District Attorney. That managerial experience, coupled with his time on the Bend City Council are significant qualifications and intimate that he'll be a capable and informed leader in the District Attorney's office. Patrick Flaherty is a strong prosecutor, but we see this more as someone who is operating in the trenches rather than the manager who is necessary to oversee the talents of the office's assistant district attorneys. Yes, Hummel will have to deal with a learning curve, but we believe he's prepared to meet that challenge and be the kind of leader to foster positive relationships inside and outside of the office.
Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Position 5: TJ SPEAR
Considering that on any given day, a circuit court judge is necessitated to oversee a wide-ranging caseload—everything from civil suits to drug cases and violent crimes—Thomas "TJ" Spear is our pick for the position. Spear has worked in district attorneys' offices, in private practice and has served as judge pro tem on the circuit court. Randy Miller, his opponent, offers his own litany of qualifications—and we admire his service in the Marine Corps, as well as in law enforcement, not to mention his sturdy record as a civil litigator. Spear's credentials, though, include everything that Miller's do—and more.
Deschutes County Commissioner
(Republican Primary): TONY DeBONE
Incumbent Tony DeBone offers a tempered approach to working with other policy makers and Deschutes County residents in addition to voicing a pragmatic view on the area's growth. Preparing for the kind of changes that come along with increased population, which is what DeBone advocates, is a far safer plan than guarding against it, which his opponent, Richard Esterman, claims is the best approach.
Measure 9-97, Measure 9-98: YES and YES
A modest request for a five-year property levy (roughly $40 for a $400,000 home) will generate a much-needed $10 million for the local and regional fire departments. Some of the most underfunded departments in the state, they need these funds to upgrade equipment and response time—and perhaps save your life or home. $40 a year for that seems like a great deal.