Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Election recommendations

Even though the primary ballot is loaded with various elections and issues, it doesn't come close to the hype of the January special election when voters overwhelmingly approved two tax hike measures.

Republicans are making the passage of those measures the sole focus of the general election in November. Seems like a losing proposition since Oregonians said yes to increasing income tax on the rich and boosting the minimum corporate tax from $10 to $150, the first such hike at all since 1931.

Still, we have the primary to wade through on May 18. Republicans dominate in Deschutes County, so it is pointless for a Democrat to even run in any county-wide partisan race. Also, most races feature token opposition or no opposition at all.

That being said, the non-partisan race for district attorney pits longtime D.A. and leader of local Democrats, Mike Dugan, against his former employee, Patrick Flaherty, who left the office a couple of years ago after a state audit showed he was toxic in the D.A.'s office.

Republicans are backing Flaherty, which is reason enough to be opposed to him. However, Dugan does a fine job and there is no reason he should be voted out.

Dugan's wife, Judy Stiegler, is running unopposed to retain her state House seat. She faces a formidable opponent in the fall, Jason Conger, not because he has any record of public service, but because Republicans see Stiegler as vulnerable since she supported the January tax hikes when her Bend district did not. Democrats narrowly outnumber Republicans in Stiegler's district with independents deciding the outcome.

By November, the tax hikes will be ancient history. The irony is that Bend and Deschutes County stand to benefit from the tax increases. Tax revenue from the Portland area will end up subsidizing state services here.

There are three measures on the ballot, two statewide issues that benefit all levels of education and one local one to expand the local jail.

It's fitting that these measures are on the ballot since Oregon has increased spending 50 percent on prisons in the last 15 years while slashing spending for higher education by 44 percent. See previous entries here and here.

It's time to restore a semblance of balance. Vote "No" on the jail bond. It isn't needed because crime has declined and there are empty beds available.

Vote "Yes" on both education measures.

Measure 68 allows the state to issue bonds to match voter-approved school district bonds for school capital costs.

Measure 69 "continues and modernizes authority for lowest cost borrowing for community colleges and public universities."

Education in Oregon needs any and all tools available to put money towards education where it's essential so that we don't have to throw more money at the prison-industrial complex.

Also, it's critical that people vote because the jail bond measure is NOT subject to the double-majority rule that mandates more than 50 percent turnout and more than 50 percent approval.

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