In an ideal world, we’d all sit down and have tea with the candidates. We’d discuss the issues and really find out which of these men and women best suited our personal vision for government.
Instead, we are given sound bites that pop up out of god-knows-who-crafted-them holes and punch us in the face. Before we can take aim, a different candidate is on the TV kissing babies, a new untruth is bandied about, or someone is simply smirking in a way that boils our blood. It’s enough to make you start pounding candidates. We’re here to tell you there’s a better way.
The Source Weekly Editorial Board took the time to invite those candidates who could make it to small tea parties of our own. In most cases, our board sat down with all the candidates for a particular race, a video camera and a passel of questions to find out who was best suited to carry out our vision for Central Oregon.
The videos of our interviews can be viewed at youtube.com/user/thesourceweekly. These endorsements come from those visits and the subsequent discussion and debate over the merits of the candidates that followed. As a bonus, our crack research team pulled together the information you’ll need to wade through the measures that pepper your ballot.
So sit back, let the hammer slide from your hands, grasp the cup of tea you’ve prepared for this reading. You’re going to be the best voter at this year’s political carnival.
President: Barack Obama
“This is a man without a core, this is a man without substance, this is a man that will say anything to become president of the United States.”
That was how former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani described fellow Republican Mitt Romney back in December 2011. Giuliani closed party ranks and endorsed Romney after he had sewn up the nomination, but his words were true then and they’re true now.
Trying to figure out what Mitt Romney stands for is like trying to grab a handful of smoke. He ran as a moderate when he wanted to be governor of liberal Massachusetts, then metamorphosed into a Tea Partier when he wanted the GOP nomination—and now he’s trying to shape-shift back into a moderate to win the White House. Consider some of his more astonishing contortions:
He said he didn’t want to cut Social Security benefits; now he does.
He used to be pro-choice; now he wants to see Roe v. Wade repealed.
He used to be in favor of gun regulation; now he’s against it.
He enacted health care reform as governor; now he wants to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which is virtually identical to his own reform.
He supported campaign-spending limits; now he doesn’t.
He was against abolishing the capital gains tax; now he’s for it.
He was in favor of “cap-and-trade” to reduce carbon emissions; now he’s against it.
He keeps talking about his “five-point plan” to rescue America, but when asked to go beyond the vaguest generalities he slithers away.
He says he wants to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, but won’t say what he’ll replace it with.
He says he’ll pay for a $7 trillion tax cut partly by eliminating some tax deductions and loopholes, but won’t say which ones.
He says he’ll reform regulations on Wall Street, but won’t say how.
In a campaign speech last week, Obama jokingly described Romney’s inability to keep track of his own positions as a new type of mental disorde-—“Romnesia.” It was a funny line, but we don’t think Romney is mentally ill. We think Rudy Giuliani made the right diagnosis: Romney is a man without a core, a man without substance.
There’s a saying in politics that you can’t beat something with nothing, but Romney apparently thinks Americans are so unhappy with Obama that they’ll elect a bland and well-groomed nothing in his place.
It’s true that the economy over the past four years hasn’t moved forward as fast as we’d all like. Against that, remember that Obama inherited the worst economic mess since the Great Depression–a mess brought about by (mostly) Republican trickle-down tax policies and deregulation–and that Republicans in Congress stymied almost every one of his initiatives, at first by threatening filibusters in the Senate and later with their majority in the House.
And the economy, slowly but surely, is getting better. Housing markets are rebounding. New claims for unemployment are dropping. Millions of private-sector jobs are being created.
What alternative does Mitt Romney offer? Well, he’s so slippery that it’s impossible to know for sure. But based on his notorious remark that 47% of Americans think they’re victims and won’t take responsibility for themselves–a remark he made to a roomful of his rich friends and contributors when he thought nobody else was listening–we can guess.
Our guess is that Romney is a pampered son of privilege who holds ordinary hard-working Americans in contempt and wants to bring back the good old Bush days of cronyism, lax regulation and tax policies designed to make people like him richer and richer while most Americans slide further and further behind.
We’ve been there, done that, and we don’t want any more of it. Re-elect President Barack Obama.
District 27 Senator: Tim Knopp
If you are a party-liner who doesn’t care about individual candidates, you could vote for Geri Hauser in this election. There is no doubt that Hauser, a Deschutes county GIS staffer who has never held political office, will follow lockstep with the Democratic Party leadership from over the hill.
In our discussion with Hauser she was unable to point to a single initiative she would undertake, or a single original idea she had for improving Oregon. She meakly put forth an understanding of the issues after consulting what she called “talking points” scrawled on giant green index cards. Favorite quote from our discussion: “I know PERS is, like, this big thing.” She summarized her Salem plan by saying she had been assured she would be mentored.
This is not good enough for us.
Democrats in Deschutes County must develop a stronger plan for mentoring new blood, for deepening the pool of potential candidates and for supporting these people when they run. It’s time for meatier stock.
Unfortunately, in this race that's Tim Knopp. Despite that this newspaper went round after round with Knopp when he served as our representative in the House from 1999 to 2003; despite that most Dems remember Knopp from that time as a radical pro-life, social conservative; despite that we find his backing from out of state big money like the Koch brothers and Loren Parks abhorrent, we believe he will do a better job than Hauser for this district.
We have also been convinced, by reviewing his record, that it is his practice to work across the aisle. Many of the bills he pushed in the Legislature, including during his time as House majority leader, were backed by both parties. He was a key player in securing funding for the original OSU-Cascades campus 10 years ago and said he will push for expansion. He is endorsed by the Oregon Education Association and the Oregon Nurses Association. He took the bullhorn into his own hands and encouraged picketing nurses outside St. Charles during a recent conflict with administration there.
We also believe that, as unpalatable as conservative solutions to major state problems like funding PERS and reducing unemployment will be, Knopp will find solutions we can vet through the political process. He will also likely move into a leadership role in his party. This will ensure that Central Oregon gets a fat slice and is not forgotten by dominant politicians in other regions.
He will also be booted by the Source time and time again to be sure.
But, ultimately, we need a leader who will chart a course and muster us to the other side of the state’s financial quandary. We believe that could be Knopp. It is certainly not Hauser.
Congressional Representative 2nd District: Joyce Segers
Maybe you caught our story earlier this year headlined, “Where’s Walden?” Yeah. It’s time for a representative at the national level who actually spends time in this district developing an understanding of what we need to thrive. Joyce Segers is the answer. She’s run against Walden before. She’s hot on the issues and knows where he’s gone wrong. Don’t waste another minute on this question—vote for Segers.
District 54 Oregon House: Nathan Hovekamp
Nathan Hovekamp might seem like a new face to many Central Oregonians, but he has been tirelessly working for the public good since 2004 on both the Bend Planning Commission and the Bend-LaPine School board—two bodies that have seen enormous change and enormous hardship over the boom and bust cycle that our community has endured.
People who have served on those boards give Hovekamp strong marks as a man of principal but also a member who can reach compromise, something badly needed in a state legislature that will most likely be evenly split again.
Hovecamp will earn votes for his position on the environment and we believe he will be a better voice for the economically disenfranchised. But the priority for our region will be the continued advocacy and support for the future OSU-Cascades campus. Hovekamp's opponent Jason Conger has done a good job as our state rep in this area, but this is Hovekamp’s profession and where he has shown leadership and quality community service. Hovekamp’s work experience and knowledge of the education system make him the stronger advocate for the advancement of the four-year university.
Conger began his public service in this community as an ideologue who shied away from speaking with those who disagreed with his position. He has matured a great deal as a public servant and we were impressed with the passion he holds for economic development through increased enterprise zones and economic tools, as well as his real desire to reform PERS through concrete solutions.
However, Hovekamp will balance the representation in Salem with a moderate voice from a newly drawn district that should give our region better representation. Send an educator to Salem. Vote Hovekamp.
District 55 Oregon House: John Huddle
John Huddle, a centrist Democrat, has long been a community advocate, but in recent years the former teacher has intensified his commitment to area issues. As a community advocate, he has successfully lobbied the Oregon Legislature on behalf of veterans, consumers and the environment and has seen five of the six bills on which he collaborated pass.
The pro-choice candidate counts poverty reduction, increased access to health care and higher education, and greater government accountability among the issues he will work to improve if elected.
Huddle, also a former special education administrator and school psychologist, said he would eliminate property taxes for those living under the poverty level while tightening restrictions on “hobby farmers,” whom he said unjustly receive government subsidies. Huddle is advocating for mobile classrooms, sponsored by Central Oregon Community College, in La Pine, Christmas Valley and elsewhere across the district, which he said would improve residents’ chances of finding gainful employment. The 11-year Oregon resident also promised to attempt to turn Oregon Health and Science University into an organization that could bring residents increased access to local health care.
In 2011, Huddle spearheaded the grassroots fight against the Pine Forest Management Bill, sponsored by incumbent and challenger Mike McLane, which would have favored a large, out-of-state corporation and allowed the development of a semi-gated community at the expense of South Deschutes County neighbors and taxpayers. With Huddle’s help, the bill soon died.
Huddle’s commitment to problem solving, rather than ideology, makes him our pick for State Representative of District 55.
State Treasurer: Ted Wheeler
Since being appointed to the office of State Treasurer in 2010 after the death of Central Oregonian Ben Westlund, Democrat Ted Wheeler has earned respect on both sides of the aisle. He’s our pick to go forward and likely would be even if his opponent was a credible option. As it is, the Republicans basically abdicated all ownership of the position. A write-in candidate, Tom Cox, won in the GOP primary, but doesn’t stand a chance despite his laudable earnestness and straightforward Libertarian ideas. Wheeler’s greatest successes have come in improving the state’s credit rating, reworking a troubled state-organized college savings plan, and resolving ethical concerns over expenditures in the treasurer’s office. But he’s also gaining a following most for being the rare Democrat in the state pushing for significant PERS reform. Though the treasurer’s office doesn’t have the authority to change PERS, it does manage the state’s retirement pension funds and what Wheeler says matters. His credibility, intelligence and track record are all reasons he deserves your vote.
Attorney General: Ellen Rosenblum
Voting for Ellen Rosenblum, a Democrat, is the obvious answer here. We endorsed her in the spring when we noted that she knows Oregon and its court system well after living in the state for 40 years. We said she supports Oregon’s medical marijuana law and it remains clear that she does after her efforts to meet with supporters to better understand their interests. Recall that she is opposed to minimum sentencing requirements because of the authority they take away from judges and the prison overcrowding they cause. Finally, she would be the first female attorney general in the state. That’s a plus in our minds. We also found her to be thoughtful and intelligent. Taken altogether, the choice is obvious. It’s Rosenblum.
Secretary of State: Kate Brown
Democrat Kate Brown, current secretary of state, has ruffled some feathers during her term, and we were tempted to support Bend Republican Knute Buehler. It would be great to a have a Bendite as the Secretary of State. However, no conservative has won a statewide office in over 10 years and Buehler doesn’t deserve to be the first.
Buehler has never held political office before and his background is in medical treatment, not solving questions of how to reform government agencies and encourage more voter participation. Brown, on the other hand, has taken bold steps like making it more difficult to bring initiatives forth and refusing to enforce some voter-endorsed campaign finance reforms. She’s drawn criticism for these moves, but they made sense. Oregon’s initiative process has been widely criticized for the ease with which big money machines can get items on the ballot, and the campaign finance reforms she refused to enforce were later ruled unconstitutional by the Oregon Supreme Court. She’s a strong woman and deserves another term. Vote Brown.
Deschutes County Commissioner: Alan Unger
The choice here is Alan Unger. But let us be clear, we wish our endorsement could be stronger. A lifelong Central Oregonian, he’s been active in politics for 20 years. Unger first served on the Redmond Planning Commission, then as Redmond’s mayor. Over that time, we’ve grown wearing of hearing Unger overuse terms such as “bring everybody to the table” and “build consensus.” Those lines are fine and good, but coming from Unger they’ve become synonyms for wishy-washy leadership. Too often, we’ve seen him wavering in critical moments. He consistently returns to center, wants to focus on “collaborative efforts” and isn’t the kind of guy you can count on to have your back in a pinch. He might wriggle into a neutral stance during the fight. He answers these criticisms by saying his way gets the work done with the broadest group possible. Maybe. But we’re not sure he recognizes when its time for decisive action.
His overall knowledge of Deschutes County and its residents remains stronger than his Republican opponent Tom Greene. We think Unger will do a better job representing a wider segment of the population than Greene because of that depth of experience. Unger’s done good work in the past, such as helping to found the Deschutes Water Alliance. And he is working on a number of good projects now, such as building a stronger transportation system and restoring forests. We’d like to see him make more headway on those issues before stepping away from the county commission.
Greene, a Bend City Councilor since 2008, has made great strides in this election season toward becoming a viable candidate for larger offices in the region. His ideas are often creative, even if they can ring naïve at times. He’s served on a dozen committees, commissions and boards. He’s boned up on issues that define Central Oregon. He’s completing a degree in policy administration. All of this is impressive. But he is still, well, green and a bankruptcy from a few years back dogs him when considering whether he’s prepared to manage a budget of more than $275 million.
So, vote for Unger, but know it's time to expect more.
Deschutes County Judge: Andy Bayleat
In the hierarchy of endorsements, the one for judge is the most difficult to write.
Constrained by an inability to discuss issues that they may at some time in the future be called upon to render judgment, the candidates are left rather mute regarding the very qualities that we as voters wish to hear about most. The endorsement interview often devolves into lengthy dissertations regarding courtroom protocol, courtroom policy or the lofty aspirations of the candidate. These topics leave us struggling to understand what these people really stand for.
To further complicate matters, we found many positive characteristics in Bagley and Balyeat. Both are very bright, which means there is no straying from the message. They don’t “blow it” under questioning. They’re lawyers for God’s sake. But after a good deal of deliberation, we still feel as we did in the primary. Andy Bayleat is the better choice for judge.
Bagley has qualities that a voter may put a higher priority on for their decision-making purposes. Bagley brings a female perspective to a court that is predominately male and this should not be underestimated. Bagley appears to be willing to pursue a more energetic approach to solving judicial issues with the legislature if given an opportunity and the judicial system needs a prod in this direction. Bagley backers tell us, even if she can’t, that she would be a progressive voice in the judiciary and, again, we would welcome the diversity. These are qualities that would win over our team in a different race.
And yet, a judge requires a more balanced vote. Bayleat has more experience in a broader range of legal settings. His business, civil court and criminal court cases around the state give him an advantage over his opponent. Bayleat has the support of the bar poll, and, while primarily an “opt in” evaluation, it is earned through larger associations and experience in the legal profession.
Finally, what tipped our endorsement for Bayleat is the breadth and diversity of supporters for this judge that we found in our own “bar poll” of the legal community from both progressive and conservative quarters. In this race, with the constraints put upon us regarding the interview process, we give these discussions greater weight. This diversity of support can only be earned after many years of fair and principled work and is the measure of the person we would look to sit in judgment upon us. Vote Bayleat.
Bend City Council Position 1: Barb Campbell
Victor Chudowsky is one of the brightest, most analytical people we’ve seen run for Bend City Council in a long time. A former Department of State contractor who now owns his own education consulting business, Chudowsky has the ability to decode the reams of data councilors must in order to make informed decisions.
But this alone is not enough reason to vote for Chudowsky when Barb Campbell is the alternative.
We believe Campbell, who also has an analytical mind—she got a bachelor’s degree in biology and taught science classes for years, is the candidate with the heart required to doggedly demand better answers from our city staff. For us, this is the central consideration in each of this year’s city council races. Who will insist on more from staff? Campbell appears to be the bulldog in this area.
The council has time and again followed the advice of city engineers, city attorneys and a host of other city staff members who have steered them wrong. Juniper Ridge. The buses. The old Bulletin property. Juniper Utility. And now the surface water improvement project. In these cases we believe councilors, acting on the recommendations of city staff, made expensive errors that have come back to haunt our community.
The solution for city staff, it seems, is now to contract out analysis to consultants who will come back with a plan. Under this scenario, if things go south, there’s someone else to blame. On the current council Jim Clinton is one person regularly willing to speak up and ask why are we hiring expensive consultants instead of managing projects in house.
But he has been ineffective alone. We believe Campbell is one of the teammates Clinton needs to force less reactionary, more rationale and more common sense approaches to our problems.
Yes, Chudowsky has said that he, too, would challenge city staff. But Chudowsky makes his living as a consultant, and doesn’t hold up to us as the candidate with the rebel-rousing spirit necessary to force the changes we need at the city.
Finally, Campbell is more deeply vested in this community. She’s lived here for 20 years, as opposed to Chudowsky’s nine. As a small business owner, her economic success is tied to the economic success of the people who live here. We believe that sense of rootedness will compel her to be the more circumspect councilor. Chudowsky and Cambell are both strong, but the edge is to the candidate with more determination. Vote Cambell.
Bend City Council Position 2: Doug Knight
All four candidates for Position 2 on City Council came well prepared and performed admirably during their interviews with the Source’s editorial board. That noted, given his long local history of civic involvement on the Bend Planning Commission, as well as numerous other boards and his local development projects like St. Clair Place and the new Deschutes Brewery building, Doug Knight is the logical choice for this seat.
Combine Knight’s extensive local involvement with his thorough knowledge of the issues that face the city and you have a powerful voice for change on the Bend City Council, which needs reinvigorating after several years of stagnant to non-existent debate.
Knight is one of two planning commission members to vote against endorsing the surface water improvement project. In taking a position on the issue, he backed up his arguments with solid information and facts gleaned from his career as a civil engineer.
Apart from the SWIP issue, Knight is well versed in economic development strategies. But he is committed to having development continue to pay its way via system development charges and is dedicated to making the city more fiscally responsible. His ideas for infilling land within the city and creating green zones are creative. It’ll be a long time before we’re there, but Knight is a visionary when it comes to city planning and that energy is a breath of fresh air.
Smart, articulate, willing to listen and unafraid to take a stand, Doug Knight is right for Position 2.
Bend City Council Position 3: Sally Russell
When it comes to Bend City Council position 3, our choice is Sally Russell. On one hand, you have current councilor Kathie Eckman, who has made a solid political career out of being an advocate for city staff positions. She rarely questions staff or their proposals and in the case of major infrastructure projects like the surface water improvement project is often ignorant of even the most basic of project details. On the other, you have Sally Russell who brings fresh ideas to the council, a willingness to question the status quo and the background to get to the root of the city’s current lack of fiscal control.
On no topic is the contrast between the two women more pronounced than the SWIP. Eckman is intransigent in her support of the project and appears unwilling to consider the views of those in opposition.Russell has studied SWIP carefully and is opposed to the project on many levels, including the overall cost, the city’s reliance on expensive out-of-town consultants and the thinly veiled attempt by the city to get the project under construction before a new, and perhaps anti-SWIP, council was voted in.
Russell is thoughtful and her master’s in business administration gives her a sound grasp on fiscal responsibility issues. Her seven years of service on the Bend Planning Commission will also be an invaluable asset. Little known, but important, in Russell’s resume is her work as chair of Senator Ron Wyden’s Central Oregon Recreation Committee. Over the past several years, this group has laid out plans that will bolster the local economy with a variety of new and vibrant recreational possibilities. In voting for Sally Russell, the electorate sends a clear message that it’s time for a new outlook on the Bend City Council.
Bend City Council Position 4: Jim Clinton
Endorsing two-term incumbent Jim Clinton is the obvious choice. We need councilors who will challenge city staff. Clinton, with his Ph.D. in physics, experience running his own companies and devotion to nature and community, is exactly the person you want taking up that challenge and steering Bend’s future.
Clinton is regularly the only “no” vote in a room full of “yeses,” which, given the massive sums of money the current city council is considering spending on infrastructure, should be of comfort to ratepaying voters. The longtime Bend resident and Oregon native isn’t a naysayer, but skeptical and inquisitive, which is why he has been the only councilor to consistently oppose the controversial $68.2 million surface water improvement project. He’s simply not going to go with the flow.
The smiling old-timer, who can often be spotted sporting his favorite navy blue ball cap, got his start in Central Oregon politics in the early ‘90s as the first president of the Southwest Bend Neighborhood Association. Among Clinton’s biggest priorities are making Bend more business-friendly, improving the city’s water and sewer infrastructure and resolving budgeting issues within the public safety departments. Clinton also said he will reinvigorate the Mirror Pond management board but, unlike his challenger, the University of Oregon grad does not support dredging, calling it a “simplistic solution.”
Challenger Mike Roberts, a building-code expert who owns Northwest Code Consulting, has a good background in leadership of professional organizations. But he’s shaky on city-specific issues. With so many large problems facing the city, we can’t afford a councilor who needs to play such a rigorous game of catch up.
After eight years on the council, Clinton knows the city’s issues intimately. That, combined with his new goal of taking a stronger role on the council, means he’s far and away the choice for this seat.