State ballot measure summary for those who have short attention spans and won't read till the end: Yes on 70, Yes on 71, Yes on 72, vote No multiple times if you can on 73, Yes on 74, No on 75, Yes on 76 Tim's Voter Guide for the 2010 Oregon and Multnomah County Elections (3rd Congressional District and 46th State Legislature District)
US Senator: Rick Staggenborg (Progressive Party)
This is a safe election for Ron Wyden, and he's never shown himself to be particularly useful AFAIK. Staggenborg, a physician, doesn't seem super qualified to be a senator. Even so, I can choose to send a message that I support the ideals of the Oregon Progressive Party (and votes help third parties gain ballot access in the future), instead of wasting my vote on a moderate who will be elected whatever I do. I actually support all of the Progressive Party's major talking points (ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, cutting military spending, single-payer health care, the right to choose one's marriage partner, ending the drug war, and I could go on). Amazing, that! I would rather have an amateur who I agree with in office than a professional who's good at effecting changes I disagree with.
Representative in Congress, 3rd District: Michael Meo (Pacific Green Party and Progressive Party)
Meo points out that Earl Blumenauer admitted that he believes single-payer health care is the best solution to the current crisis, yet Blumenauer refuses to sign on as a cosponsor to HR 676 (John Conyers' bill to extend Medicare to all Americans; warning: the site's web design is worthy of Geocities circa 1996). He's right. Especially given that Blumenauer's position is also safe, I'm voting for Meo to signal that I don't condone a representative openly stating that he refuses to do the right thing because it would cost him political capital. Sorry, Earl, the bike pin on your lapel won't help me next time I get hit by a car while I'm riding and my insurance company tells me it all goes towards my deductible.
If this sounds like a "not Blumenauer" vote, it is; Michael Meo, a high school math teacher and former adjunct math professor at PSU, seems a bit politically shallow from his blog (he calls the NY times the "Pravda-on-the-Hudson"; while the NY Times has certainly shown a conservative bias on many occasions, words like that don't really contribute to a discussion). Again, though, I'm voting to support the Pacific Green and Progressive Parties, not for the guy -- and isn't that what most Democrats do with respect to the Democratic Party?
Governor: John Kitzhaber (Democratic Party)
Yeah, there's really no one else, is there? I guess it's good that Kitzhaber founded the Oregon Health Plan and (unlike all the other candidates) thinks it's important to protect the environment. It's a close race, and Chris Dudley is a stupid, scary douchebag; anyway, even if I were tempted to vote for a third-party candidate in this race, there aren't any, except for the Libertarian Party (no thanks) and Constitution Party (even worse).
Treasurer: Ted Wheeler (Democratic Party and Working Families Party)
I don't see a particular reason to exercise a protest vote here; besides, the WFP wouldn't endorse the incumbent Wheeler if there wasn't a good reason. Progressive Party candidate Walt Brown doesn't seem particularly qualified to be treasurer, nor do the Progressive Party's positions I support seem as relevant to this office as to the House and Senate positions. Plus, a scary fiscal-conservative Republican is running against Wheeler.
State Representative, 46th District: Ben Cannon (Democratic Party, Working Families Party, Independent Party)
I've voted for Cannon before and I will again. He's a Bus Project leader and only accepts clean money. What's not to love?
Judges of the Court of Appeals and Circuit Court
I hate to leave a bubble unbubbled, but none of these races are contested and there's not really enough information to decide whether any of the candidates are sufficiently heinous to vote against. Blank it is!
Metro Council President: Bob Stacey
Metro, even though of course you already know, is the regional government body that handles transportation and environmental issues for the Portland metropolitan area. Candidate Tom Hughes, a former mayor of Hillsboro, is supported by donors who wants to expand the urban growth boundary (that means paving more open space to make strip malls and gated communities). He also supports the excessive Columbia River Crossing (CRC) proposal that will create a bridge to bring more traffic to Portland from the 'Couv. Bob Stacey is none of those things: he's a critic of the pro-car version of the CRC plan, has solid environmentalist cred, and, y'know, isn't a suburbanite who wants to turn the whole world into a parking lot.
East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Director, at large 2: Jill Kuehler
This race almost looked like the most exciting one on the ballot, with four candidates, none of whom are members of the Constitution Party. But I couldn't find any info on Chris Jackson, so that leaves three. In any case, Jill Kuehler seems pretty clearly the most qualified: John Sweeney's experience seems to be primarily in the military, while Dorothy Clark seems to be more interested in the position as a first elected office than as anything else.
East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Director, Zone 3: Dianna L. Pope
...because she's been doing this for years and we still have soil and water, so I guess she's doing something right? Plus, she's our only choice!
State Measure 70: Yes
The Oregon Constitution dictates that the state maintain a low-interest loan program to help war veterans buy houses. Who knew, right? Measure 70 would extend the program to cover people who served in the military more than 30 years ago, as well as more non-combat veterans, at no additional cost to the state. I'm not in favor of homeownership in particular, but I guess if we are going to have this program, it should be run fairly, and it seems pretty arbitrary to cut off the opportunity after 30 years.
State Measure 71: Yes
It does seem archaic for the state legislature to meet only every other year, doesn't it? If you agree, then vote for this measure, which requires the legislature to meet yearly.
State Measure 72: Yes
No one seems to be against this measure, which would make it easier for the state to borrow money to build and maintain infrastructure. And that's good, right?
State Measure 73: OH HELL NO
You know how mandatory minimum sentences for sex crimes -- or most other serious crimes -- have no deterrent effect, and how their only real function (besides emotional expression for the voting public) is to inflate the prison-industrial complex? Well, apparently the supporters of this measure don't. Or they do know, yet are making a cynical ploy to gain political capital by pandering to people's fears of sex offenders or sodomites. (As a tangent, why is "sodomy" still a separate crime from "rape"?) 21 out of 24 voters on an independent citizens' review panel agreed that "Mandatory minimum sentencing has not proven a significant deterrant to future DUII or sex crimes." 21 out of 24 of those panelists, coincidentally, were opposed to the measure. You should be, too. You know what else this measure would do? It would turn sexting into a major felony sex crime, if you're under 18. That would mean that if you're 17 and 11 months, and you send your boyfriend a picture of your wang, that gets you 25 years in jail. Who thinks this is sane?
State Measure 74: Yes
This measure would create a medical marijuana dispensary system (medical marijuana is already decriminalized in Oregon, but only of you grow it yourself, which is kind of weird, since you aren't required to grow or make most other medicines yourself if you need them). Vote yes unless you believe it's morally right to deny a palliative to people in pain for the sole purpose from preventing other people from pursuing pleasure.
State Measure 75: NO
Privately owned casinos are currently illegal in Oregon; this measure would authorized a single privately owned casino (in Wood Village (motto: "Gateway to Troutdale")) which would be required to give kickbacks to, I mean give a percentage of its monthly revenue to, the state lottery fund. Legalized gambling is a necessary evil, but when the state has a stake in encouraging more people to throw away their money in search of false hopes, that's an unnecessary evil, as well as being creepy as hell. Vote no.
State Measure 76: Yes
Reauthorize funding for parks. Parks are good!
Multnomah County Measure 26-109: Yes
The measure would repeat term limits for county elected offices. I think term limits are pretty un-democratic and, especially at this level of government, need a pretty good justification before I'm willing to consider one. Since I don't know of one here, vote yes to allow the public to choose their elected officials.
Multnomah County Measure 26-110: Yes
I agree with the County Attorney's reasoning: an official who runs for another elected office midterm ought to be able to continue doing their pre-existing job if they lose the new election.
Multnomah County Measure 26-111: Yes (I guess?)
The measure would give the Salary Commission, which is an appointed board of human resources experts who set salaries for county officials, the power to set the county sheriff's salary and the county supplemental stipend for the district attorney (who is paid by the state). I guess it makes sense for salary experts to set the sheriff's salary, especially if they're setting other comparable county officials' salaries? I can't claim there's a lot of background info on this one, though.
Multnomah County Measure 26-112: Yes
The measure would require county commissioners to live in the district they represent -- if a commissioner moved to a different district while in office, then they would have to resign. Seems reasonable to me!
Multnomah County Measure 26-113: Yes
Eliminate March and September special elections; business would have to wait for either the May or the November election. The measure could reduce county election costs; that sounds good to me.
Multnomah County Measure 26-114: Yes
The measure would create a special county library district to make library funding more reliable. I'm for anything the librarians are for!
Multnomah County Measure 26-118: Yes
It's worth it for homeowners to pay less than $1 per month to keep the state history museum open.
Portland Measure 26-108: Yes
The measure would continue public campaign financing for city elections, and I mean duh, why wouldn't we want to do that?
Portland Measure 26-117: Yes
Let the city issue bonds to help modernize fire stations and other emergency response facilities. I read that one reason to support the measure is that currently, firefighters' radios don't work in the West Hills; now, I don't particularly see anything wrong with rich people's houses burning down, but I wouldn't want the trees to get hurt, so they should probably fix that.
Trimet Measure 26-119: Yes
Should we increase funding for public transit improvements aimed at helping elderly and disabled riders, but which would also help everyone? Of course we should! Duh.
tl;dr version: Take this opportunity to vote your conscience for House and Senate. Vote Kitzhaber for governor -- it's close. Vote Yes on State Measure 76, County Measures 26-114 and 26-118, and TriMet Measure 26-119 to fund parks, libraries, museums, and public transit -- you know, basically all the things government is capable of providing to make your life better. Vote Yes on Portland Measure 26-117 if you want someone to show up when your house is on fire. And for fuck's sake, whatever else you do, vote NO on 73 and tell all your friends to do the same.