Portland’s May 19 primary election couldn’t come at a weirder time.
Thanks to the mid-March arrival of a global pandemic, local campaigns have pivoted to Zoom calls, sidewalk chalk endorsements, and cheery hand washing videos. While it’s thrown a wrench into traditional campaigning, the coronavirus has added fuel to candidates’ desire to run for office by putting Portland’s weaknesses—and strengths—on display.
COVID-19 has illuminated the concerns of our most vulnerable communities—whether that’s undocumented workers unable to access unemployment benefits, children in low-income households going hungry without school lunches, grocery workers feeing obligated to work in unsafe environments, or inmates pleading for soap in a crowded North Portland prison. It has revealed just how many of us are living one paycheck away from homelessness, and illustrated the critical instability of small businesses, art venues, and friendly foodie havens that give Portland its identity. And it’s shown the critical inefficiencies within the city’s outdated form of government.
Yet, the pandemic has also shone a light on our community’s brilliant public health leaders, underscored Portlanders’ ability to creatively support each other, and has highlighted our city government's ability to nimbly cobble together short-term solutions to a unfamiliar crisis—while lobbying state and national leaders for long-term support.
There’s a lot on the table. At a time when the city’s top economists and planners are genuinely stumped on what the future holds, it’s critical we put faith in leaders who can see through the chaos and give us a path forward when the COVID-19 dust settles. This election, we’re focusing our endorsements on candidates we believe can both put out immediate fires and thoughtfully address the city’s social and economic instabilities to create a more resilient Portland.
Portland has a particularly packed ballot this election: Four out of five city council seats are up for grabs, as is the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office, several Metro Government positions, and a handful of key seats within the state legislature. Oh, and did we mention two multi-million-dollar tax measures?
To make the best use of your time (and ours), we’re only writing about local, competitive races. You'll find links to those endorsements below. For a cheat sheet of our endorsements in every race on Portlanders’ ballots, click here.
As always, Oregon voters will be conveniently receiving ballots in the mail. Even more convenient: All ballots will come with a return envelope with prepaid postage (thanks to a new state law). All you need to do is fill in those bubbles, stuff it in an envelope, and get it in the mail by May 14 or drop it in a handy election drop box by 8 pm, May 19.
Stay safe, stay home, and vote.