This year’s general election is centered on fear. Fear of losing affordable access to health care. Fear of unregulated crime. Fear of not having a safe place to call home. Fear of losing hard-earned savings. Fear of money determining elections. Fear of being unprotected against an erratic federal government. Fear of the unknown.
For the first time since 2006, Oregon voters are making a decision on limiting a woman’s right to an abortion. They’ll be considering whether to overturn the state’s 30-year-old law limiting what local law enforcement agencies have to tell federal immigration officials. They’ll choose between keeping a fierce Democrat in the governor’s office or replacing her with a conservative who’s masterfully rebranded himself as a moderate. More locally, voters will decide if they’ll help fund the first tri-county housing bond to create stable housing for the region’s poorest—or hope that the private market solves our crippling deficit of affordable housing.
This local (and national) election cycle is meant to be divisive. If you’ve forgotten: It’s the midterms! The general election that splits a presidential term traditionally features the best table-flipping chaos and petty partisanship that our delightful democracy has to offer.
But despite what the door-knockers and campaign flyers and dramatic Hulu ads and fear-mongering Facebook groups are telling you: Have no fear! We’re here to help you cut through the polarizing bullshit and understand what’s at the root of each measure and candidate on the ballot. We’ll also give you our best advice on who or what we believe you should vote for.
There are a few ballot items we’re intentionally skipping over in our endorsement guide—like unchallenged US Representative seats and nearby races that fall outside the Portland city limits. (But vote yes on the North Clackamas School District levy!)
Whether or not you agree with our recommendations, we’re only asking one thing of you, Portland:
Election Cheat Sheet!
Portland City Commissioner, Position 3: Jo Ann Hardesty
Measure 26-199: Metro Housing Bond—Yes
Measure 26-201: Portland Clean Energy Initiative—Yes
Measure 26-200: Portland Campaign Finance Reform—Yes
Multnomah County Auditor: Jennifer McGuirk
Oregon Governor: Kate Brown
US Representative, District 1: Suzanne Bonamici
US Representative, District 3: Earl Blumenauer
Measure 102: Using Housing Bonds For Public/Private Projects—Yes
Measure 103: Grocery Tax Ban—No
Measure 104: Restrict Raising Revenue—No
Measure 105: Repeal Sanctuary State Law—No
Measure 106: Bans Public Funds for Abortion—No
Portland City Commissioner,
Position 3—Jo Ann Hardesty
This November, voters will make Portland history. Twice. Not only will Portlanders elect the city’s first Black woman to city council, but in doing so, they’ll create Portland’s first majority-female council. The outcome of the race to replace outgoing Commissioner Dan Saltzman is a monumental step forward in a city long ruled by white dudes. But don’t let this seemingly “win-win” election allow you to gloss over this vote. Candidates Jo Ann Hardesty and Loretta Smith couldn’t be less alike in their politics.
Hardesty—a one-time state legislator, a former president of the NAACP’s Portland branch, and a leader in Portland’s activist community—is an outspoken advocate for police accountability, affordable housing, and environmental justice. Smith, a two-term Multnomah County Commissioner and former aide to Senator Ron Wyden, advocates for a larger police force and job creation, and believes Portland’s wealthiest developers will solve the city’s homelessness crisis.
Hardesty’s shown interest in expanding tenants’ rights, helping create a stronger network of homeless villages like Right 2 Dream Too, and is one of the architects of Portland Clean Energy Fund, a measure on the ballot that would tax major corporations to fund renewable energy projects and jobs. Smith has championed a successful program connecting minority youth to summer jobs, but also wants to turn a former county jail into a mass homeless shelter, despite concerns from longtime experts in housing and homelessness.
Both women have fought criticism in their policy decisions and political beliefs. Smith has taken many of these rebukes as personal attacks, and has responded by gaslighting her opponents rather than pausing to consider differing opinions and seeking compromise. Hardesty, meanwhile, has a record of listening to critics and exploring the nuance of an argument. And in every fight, she’s put the community she represents before her self image.
This is a critical difference.
Hardesty is running for Portland City Council to give a platform to the city’s most underrepresented communities—families teetering on the edge of homelessness, parents who’ve lost children to police violence, small businesses struggling to stay open in gentrifying neighborhoods, young adults spit out by the criminal justice system, and people of color disproportionately impacted by climate change. She’s not running to propel her career forward, but to move Portland toward a more equitable, united future. We believe Portland needs a leader committed to shrinking the disparities among the city’s growing population and willing to make political sacrifices to hold Portland’s power brokers accountable. That’s why we’re endorsing Jo Ann Hardesty for Portland City Commissioner, Position 3.
Hardesty is the voice of criminal justice and police reform currently missing on city council. She has the experience: Hardesty was part of the group that called on the US Department of Justice to investigate if officers in the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) are more likely to use violence against people of color and those with mental illnesses. Recently, Hardesty raised concerns about a city audit that found PPB’s gang enforcement unit had been disproportionately pulling over African American drivers. She’s particularly opposed to police officers acting as responders to mental health crises, and has proposed plans to hand that responsibility over to the Portland Fire Bureau, “where their job is to save lives, not endanger them.” If elected, that’s one of the bureaus she’ll oversee.
Hardesty’s not without flaws. An investigation by OPB found that while she was NAACP president, Hardesty sidestepped procedure to pen a $10,000 check to her own consulting firm without board members’ approval or bids from other consultants. She also did not report that income to the federal government or pay taxes on it. She blames this on not knowing it needed to be reported, but it’s not a good look for someone who’ll be responsible for tens of thousands of city dollars.
In the Mercury endorsement interview, Hardesty was quick to take responsibility and promised to surround herself with smart bureau directors and budget experts to ensure she doesn’t make the same mistake. “I will always admit to what I’ve done wrong,” Hardesty told us.
Shortly after OPB’s story broke in September, Smith issued a press release announcing that Hardesty had embezzled money from the NAACP. Neither her office nor any legal officials have offered proof to substantiate that serious allegation. It’s only one example of Smith’s affinity for old-school smear campaigns. In the Mercury’s interview, Smith hinted that Hardesty may have been dishonorably discharged during her stint in the US Navy. (Military records shared with the Mercury by Hardesty’s campaign show Hardesty had been honorably discharged from active duty in 1979 before continuing in the Navy Reserve until 1984.)
Sure, negative attacks are somewhat expected from a candidate who lost to Hardesty by 25 percentage points in May’s primary election. But this behavior isn’t just reserved for a cutthroat campaign: As county commissioner, Smith was accused of making racially charged remarks about Latinos and Muslims, criticizing a female employee for her weight, and ordering staff to use personal time to attend her campaign events. A 2017 investigation into these allegations found them all to be true, and unearthed new issues with how Smith had mismanaged her office’s finances by spending up to $2,300 on personal expenses. Smith falsely told the public that the report found all of these accusations to be unsubstantiated.
An elected official who’s quick to drop baseless accusations about opponents to improve her standing—while blindly ignoring substantiated and substantial concerns about her own conduct—has no place in our council chambers. We can’t have someone prioritizing her own reputation over what’s best for a community.
Hardesty’s expertise, resilience, and community-focused policymaking belongs in city hall. We’re excited to see what new ideas, conversations, and policies she’ll bring to Portland’s stagnant city council.
Measure 26-199: Metro Housing Bond—Yes
It’s no secret that Portland’s in the midst of an affordable housing crisis. Since former Mayor Charlie Hales declared a “housing state of emergency” in 2015, Portland and Multnomah County have thrown their weight behind a number of major shelter programs, low-income housing developments, and new protections for tenants who may be one late rent check away from eviction. But we’re nowhere near closing the housing gap for the region’s poorest, a population that has watched rents rise by more than 40 percent since 2011. It’s also clear that this housing deficit spreads beyond city and county boundaries and has rapidly become a problem for neighboring cities like Gresham and Beaverton.
That’s why we’re entrusting Metro, the regional government that oversees Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties, to roll out a $652.8 million affordable housing bond across the region. The price? An annual fee of around $60 for all homeowners. While the Metro bond certainly won’t solve the housing crisis, it will jump-start a coordinated, regional effort to keep the area’s most vulnerable from slipping into homelessness.
The proposed affordable housing bond promises to fund 2,400 permanently affordable homes for more than 7,500 people in the region. That number will be doubled if Oregon voters pass Measure 102—a statewide constitutional amendment that will make it easier for government bodies to partner with nonprofits to create housing. To make the biggest impact, Metro’s focusing on the most vulnerable renters first. While the metro region currently offers a decent number of rental options for people who are “moderately” low-income, and make 60 to 80 percent of the region’s median annual income (between $49,000 and $65,000 for a family of four or between $34,000 and $45,000 for an individual), it’s facing a severe shortfall of around 48,000 rental units for those making less.
Up to 50 percent of the bond’s funds will go toward housing for people making no more than 30 percent of the region’s median annual income (around $25,000 for a family of four or $17,000 for a single individual), a population that is disproportionately represented by communities of color. No more than 10 percent of homes would be offered to people making 60 to 80 percent of the median family income. Half of the new homes will have at least two bedrooms to accommodate families.
The few opponents to this bond—including Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler—believe Oregon’s affordable housing shortfall is best addressed by giving tax breaks and subsidies to private developers who offer low-income housing. But in Portland, we’ve seen similar programs disincentivize new residential development, and instead encourage developers to move major projects to other cities and states. By now, it’s painfully obvious the private market won’t cure our housing woes—and we’re long past the point of waiting to see if it’ll change course.
While Metro, known for managing regional parks, the Oregon Zoo, and waste facilities, doesn’t normally take a role in housing issues, this kind of widespread crisis calls for widespread coordination. And Metro is the only local government agency that has proven success at managing massive, unwieldy tri-county programs. In the words of incoming Metro President Lynn Peterson: “We need to move forward because doing nothing is not an option.”
Measure 26-201: Portland Clean Energy Initiative—Yes
Earlier this month, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sounded a red alert for our overpopulated planet. Without massive, worldwide changes, the IPCC warned, the already lethal effects of climate change—hotter temperatures, bigger wildfires, and intensifying hurricanes—will include longer droughts, rising sea levels, and climate refugees fleeing widespread starvation. None of those predictions are new, but the timeline for them is shorter than anyone expected: two decades.
If history is any indication, the IPCC’s report will be, for all intents and purposes, ignored. Climate change is so horrific—and fighting it on any meaningful scale is so mind-bogglingly difficult—that it’s easy to pretend it will only affect others, that there’s no way our children will die of thirst or be burned alive. But some of them will, and the very entities that could do something to stop it—our national leaders and the corporations that, in many ways, hold just as much power—choose to do nothing.
No one’s pretending that Measure 26-201, which would establish a Portland Clean Energy Initiative will single-handedly avert our Mad Max future. But it is doing something.
If approved by voters, the initiative will collect a meager fee—a 1 percent “business license surcharge”—to Portland retailers that have annual total revenues of at least $1 billion. That fund would help weatherize Portlanders’ homes, train Portlanders for green jobs, and increase the city’s use of clean energy and our production of locally grown food. Notably, the surcharge won’t apply to the basic goods everyone needs—like groceries and health care—and just as notably, the fund will prioritize helping Portland’s low-income residents and people of color, the very populations most susceptible to climate change.
This is a tiny expense for a larger good, and for anyone paying attention, it’s a no-brainer: Measure 26-201 is championed by a wide swath of environmental and social organizations from the Sierra Club to the Oregon Food Bank, and a slew of forward-thinking politicians and experts, from Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, to Senator Jeff Merkley.
Meanwhile, the measure’s opponents include a cartoonish lineup of the big businesses that can, and should, do more: Amazon, Comcast, Walmart, Standard Insurance, US Bank, Papé, the Greenbrier Companies, Bank of America, and Kroger, the retail giant that owns Fred Meyer.
In the Mercury’s endorsement interviews, the only wobbly opposition to Measure 26-201 came from the Portland Business Alliance (PBA), a lobbying group with a history of fighting common-sense efforts to make Portland more environmentally friendly and healthy, from Better Naito to earned sick leave. PBA’s new president and CEO, Andrew Hoan, vowed that a 1 percent tax on some of the world’s biggest corporations would be directly passed on to Portlanders—but that’s an unproven argument that, in a time of need, encourages people to do nothing.
Don’t fall for it. Do something. Vote yes on Measure 26-201.
Measure 26-200: Portland Campaign Finance Reform—Yes
Given the chance, the smart, likeable nerds campaigning for Measure 26-200 will happily bury you in spreadsheets, lists, graphs, and statistics. (That’s what they spent most of the Mercury’s endorsement interview doing, anyway. These guys really like their numbers.) As with just about everything regarding campaign finance reform, Measure 26-200 can seem complicated.
Yet not only is campaign finance reform incredibly important (as Ann Ravel, the former chair of the Federal Election Commission, puts it, “Whether it be education or tax reform or foreign policy, campaign finance is at the heart of all the policy decisions that are being made”), but once you get past all those spreadsheets? Measure 26-200 actually isn’t that complicated.
The boiled-down version: This measure would limit the amount that individuals and political action committees (PACs) can donate to those running for office in Portland. The cap would be $500—a far cry from Oregon’s current system, which puts no limit on how much individuals or PACs can donate. That drastically favors well-connected candidates favored by well-moneyed individuals. (Look no further than Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who, directly and indirectly has given roughly $3.5 million to Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler.) Measure 26-200 would also require that committees running political ads on behalf of candidates prominently and clearly identify their top donors. Currently, those donors—be they individuals, businesses, or special-interest groups—can hide behind the names of PACs, which are often misleadingly or euphemistically named in order to confuse voters.
Measure 26-200 is similar to a measure Seattle voters passed in 2015, and it’s identical to a county charter amendment that Multnomah County voters approved in 2016, only to see a county judge declare it unconstitutional. While that amendment is stuck in legal limbo, it’s just part of a greater push to bring campaign finance reform to Oregon—a push that now involves Measure 26-200.
And by all indications, campaign finance reform is something Portlanders want: Not only did the 2016 measure pass with a whopping 89 percent of the vote, but the vast majority of Americans favor transparency in campaign financing.
The US Supreme Court’s disastrous 2010 ruling on Citizens United v. FEC all but guaranteed that dark money will continue to be used to manipulate elections across the country. We can’t fix everywhere else—but we can make sure that in Portland, campaign donations are limited, disclosed, and regulated in a way that lets everyone know who stands to benefit in each election. That’s information every voter needs. Vote yes on 26-200.
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Multnomah County Auditor—
Auditors are arguably the most important elected officials in local politics. These are the incredibly busy, incredibly shrewd officials who sift through budgets and databases to decide which areas of the government needs serious investigating. Auditors are the first to point out when government promises aren’t being delivered and the first to call public attention to issues lawmakers may be avoiding.
We made the decision to endorse Jennifer McGuirk during the May primary election—and we’re sticking to it. McGuirk already works within the county auditor’s office, but finds the current, outgoing leadership lacking. She’d like to reinvigorate the auditor’s office with long-overdue investigations into massive county departments like the Multnomah County jail system, mental health programs, and the county’s housing and homeless services. She believes the best audits are conducted “from the perspective of those trying to access the services,” rather than those already inside the system.
To confront equity issues within the county, McGuirk wants to bring back an anonymous hotline meant to help county employees report mismanagement, abuse, or discrimination in their own departments. She’s ready to hold the county’s feet to the flame during a period of massive growth and discontent with systemic issues, and we’re here for it.
The United States is currently going through a phase not unlike puberty—full of poorly-planned risks and terribly embarrassing decisions we’ll regret for years to come. In the midst of this instability, it’s important that Oregon has a leader who can safeguard our constitutional rights while keeping state-level programs afloat—and not lose their mind in the process. We’re certainly not in the position to take a gamble on a sophomore politician just to spice up our state’s politics.
That’s why we believe Governor Kate Brown should continue to helm Oregon’s government.
Since Brown entered the governor’s office in 2015—swooping in after a power-wielding scandal ended in then-Governor John Kitzhaber’s resignation—she’s begun weaving a sturdy safety net for Oregon’s future. In 2015, Brown signed into law the country’s most progressive reproductive health care bill, the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), which prohibits insurance companies from charging Oregon women—including undocumented immigrant women—a copay for an abortion procedure. In an endorsement interview with the Mercury, Brown said she created this act to protect Oregonians from any federal-level changes to a woman’s right to chose. (Looking at you, Kavanaugh.)
In 2017, Brown championed a massive transportation bill that would increase public transportation investments, make seismic upgrades to Oregon’s highways, unclog the traffic nightmare around Portland’s Rose Quarter, and introduce sidewalks and crosswalks to the notoriously dangerous (and weirdly state-owned) Powell Boulevard. The bill, which prioritized transportation projects for underserved minority communities, required a heavy lift to get bipartisan support—which Brown did without breaking a sweat.
Brown’s safety net isn’t without gaps. Under her watch, Oregon’s public schools have maintained the lowest graduation rates in the country, and the state’s cash-strapped classrooms continue to shed resources and gain students. In August, Brown announced a new plan to repair the floundering education system—which included longer school years and expanded career technical programs—but didn’t flag any specific funding sources. In her endorsement interview with the Mercury, Brown said it would likely involve some tax hikes. Brown’s opponent, orthopedic surgeon and Representative Knute Buehler, hates tax hikes.
Buehler, who refused an interview with the Mercury without giving any explanation, has used Oregon’s faltering education system to criticize Brown and collect bipartisan support along the campaign trail, and he’s brought up genuine concerns about the future of Oregon’s pension system.
What’s most impressive about Buehler’s campaign, however, is his ability to rebrand himself. Since Buehler began his campaign for governor, he’s aggressively marketed himself as a moderate conservative who will happily empathize with liberals who are critical of Brown’s tenure. He’s called himself pro-choice, talked about tightening state gun control laws, and promised to protect Medicaid from federal cuts.
That’s candidate Buehler. But as a member of the Oregon State Legislature, a job he’s held for only four years, Buehler voted against a bill to expand Medicaid and against a number of bills meant to improve women’s access to reproductive health care and abortion. Most notably, Buehler voted against Brown’s RHEA bill—then boasted about his anti-abortion vote on a conservative talk show.
He’s also held onto some of his socially conservative stances on the campaign trail. Buehler supports Measure 105, an anti-immigrant measure disguised as a public safety issue, and has pitched a “tough love” plan to “solve” homelessness that includes new legislation to give local governments more power to arrest people for sitting or lying down in public spaces.
Buehler’s also against the Metro Housing Bond that has promised to create thousands of new affordable units. He believes giving rental assistance to low-income Oregonians living in privately owned rentals is a better call, and sees the private housing market solving the housing deficit.
Brown, who supports the Metro bond, has doubled the number of affordable homes in Oregon since taking office. She sees value in partnering with nonprofits who can help homeless Oregonians transition into longterm housing—rather than handing them a rental subsidy and hoping for the best.
Despite labeling himself pro-choice, Buehler’s told conservative voters he’s opposed to using state funds to cover abortion costs, except in cases where it is “medically necessary.” That blurry, non-medical terminology only applies to cases where a woman will die if she doesn’t get an abortion.
While Buehler’s done a spectacular job at charming liberal Oregonians with promises that contradict his voting record, we’re not that easily fooled. We’re also not ready to sacrifice women’s health care, immigrant rights, and housing stability by handing the reins over to Buehler. We prefer a lawmaker who is consistent with her politics and has found her place at the top through thoughtful leadership and hard-earned trust. Vote Brown.
Measure 102: Using Housing Bonds For Public/Private Projects—Yes
Oregon’s affordable housing crisis demands as much help from as many entities as possible. In the past, affordable housing projects have seen the most success when both private and public sectors join forces—using their unique understanding of the housing market and tenants’ needs to strike an equitable balance. However, an outdated rule in the Oregon Constitution has kept a lot of these projects from reaching their potential. The constitution currently prohibits local governments from spending affordable housing bond dollars on housing that is not government-owned. Measure 102 would amend that rule to allow housing bond funds to support affordable housing that is owned or managed by a private entity.
We know what you’re thinking: “Why would I want my tax dollars going into the pockets of private property owners? That’s shady as hell, Mercury goons!”
Okay. Take this example: At the moment, all residential buildings funded by Portland’s 2016 Housing Bond must be owned and operated by the city. The city, however, is not the local expert in affordable housing programs and would rather allow nonprofits with decades of expertise in this area, like Transition Projects and Central City Concern, manage these massive public investments. Partnering with these programs would open up new funding sources and guarantee the public’s investment in affordable housing is being used in the most effective and efficient way.
If passed, Measure 102 will allow the Portland Housing Bond to build nearly 4,000 additional affordable units than are currently projected. And if both Measure 102 and the Metro Housing Bond (Measure 26-199) are approved this November, the Metro bond could place a further 4,500 people in affordable housing. Measure 102 is easily the least controversial measure on your ballot. Vote yes.
Measure 103: Grocery Tax Ban—No
Measure 103 aims to protect corporations from regulations that don’t exist. The measure, bankrolled by Oregon’s top grocery and beverage companies, introduces a constitutional amendment that would ban any new taxes on groceries. At the moment, there are no current or pending taxes proposed on the grocery industry in Oregon. This is more of a defensive move by industry leaders who are hoping to preempt any legislative attempts to tax certain types of food—like soda or candy—in the future. It’s no coincidence this measure comes just two years after voters defeated Measure 97, a proposed 2.5 percent tax on the revenue of Oregon’s largest corporations—including those in the grocery biz. Oregon grocers doled out more than $7 million in 2016 to successfully defeat Measure 97.
Measure 103 gives major grocery stores an unnecessary buffer from necessary taxes that may pop up down the road. But we’re even more irked by how sloppily thrown together this particular ballot measure is. The measure defines “groceries” as “raw or processed food or beverages intended for human consumption,” meaning it could effectively ban any new taxes on food sold at convenience stores, farmers’ markets, catering companies, movie theaters, sports arenas, hospitals, hotels, or any kind of restaurant. (This has delighted the restaurant industry, which has put little time or money into lobbying for this measure.) Meanwhile, it will still allow for taxes on non-food items at grocery stores, alcohol, and tobacco products (though some argue its phrasing leaves a loophole for nicotine-only products, like e-cigarettes).
It’s unknown how Measure 103’s vague phrasing and hurried promises will unintentionally impact Oregon industries and consumers. We’re not interested in finding out. Vote no on Measure 103.
Measure 104: Restrict Raising Revenue—No
Measure 104 shares many similarities with Measure 103. Like the grocery tax ban, Measure 104 is a preemptive move by conservative groups defending their business earnings in Oregon. Measure 104’s text is intentionally confusing to anyone who doesn’t closely follow the Oregon Legislature, but it’s not that complicated.
In short, Measure 104 expands what kind of changes to the constitution require a three-fifths—or supermajority—vote to pass in both legislative chambers. In doing so, the measure would make it much harder for lawmakers to pass bills that decrease current tax breaks or increase taxes, which are both important tools to raise state revenue. The measure will add unnecessary gridlock to our already-glacial legislative processes, allowing special-interest groups more time to lobby against tax cuts and fees. By doing so, Measure 104 could waste thousands of taxpayer dollars by drawing out the legislative session to favor the minority party. Unsurprisingly, this measure is backed by conservative-leaning special-interest groups like the Oregon Home Builders Association and Oregon Business and Industry.
We’re not interested in corporate lobbyists or bitter minority legislators holding our tax dollars hostage for their own gains. Vote no on Measure 104.
Measure 105: Repeal Sanctuary State Law—No
If you consider yourself a relatively decent person with a moral compass, voting no on Measure 105—which would invalidate Oregon’s sanctuary law—is a very easy choice. In a nutshell, the sanctuary law, which passed almost unanimously 30 years ago, stops law enforcement from using public resources to track down and arrest anyone whose only offense is being in the country illegally.
Opponents of the law want to repeal it, and it’s no surprise why they’ve chosen this particular moment in time. Inspired and emboldened by Donald Trump’s racist “zero tolerance” anti-immigration stance, Oregon’s far-right conservatives want local law enforcement to assist federal agencies like ICE in arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants—regardless of the horrors they may face in their home countries.
But the passage of Measure 105 also causes further harm—such as increased racial profiling, which the sanctuary law was originally designed to curtail. Documented immigrants, as well as people of color who were born in this country, are already harassed by ICE agents who incorrectly assume citizenship status based on skin color. Wiping out Oregon’s sanctuary law would almost certainly entice bad-apple cops into committing further acts of prejudice.
Communities of color are already distrustful of police, and their suspicions would only intensify if the police were working hand-in-hand with ICE. Law enforcement depends on cooperation from these communities in order to prevent and solve crimes—but there isn’t much of an upside to coming forward with information when the cops may very well turn you over to the feds. Those experiencing domestic violence would be even more wary of contacting police, putting them in further danger.
Measure 105 is steeped in fear and racism: Proponents incorrectly assert (employing Trump’s coded language) that undocumented immigrants bring more crime to their communities, which could not be further from the truth. A number of studies reveal the exact opposite—in fact, undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born citizens, and by a large margin. And while 18 rural Oregon sheriffs, Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler, and groups such as Oregonians for Immigration Reform (which is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) have come out in favor of the measure, their suspect concerns have been met and opposed by an overwhelming number of Oregon’s law enforcement officials, district attorneys, mayors, businesses, and faith organizations.
This is a very easy choice. Vote a resounding no on the racially fueled Measure 105.
Measure 106: Bans Public Funds For Abortion—No
The anti-abortion folks backing Measure 106 want voters to believe this is a measure that will simply let Oregonians decide where their tax dollars are headed. It’s not. Measure 106 is a thinly-veiled ban on abortion for state employees and low-income Oregonians.
Let’s break it down: Measure 106 would prohibit public funding from covering the cost of an abortion. That means women enrolled in Oregon’s Medicaid program, the Oregon Health Plan (OHP), and public employees signed up for health insurance would immediately lose abortion coverage. All told, the measure would impact more than 300,000 women.
Proponents argue that pulling public funding isn’t the same as a formal ban on abortion. But forcing low-income Oregon women to pay out of pocket for an abortion—ranging anywhere from $300 to $3,000—is simply a sneakier, crueler way to keep the legal option out of reach. During the Mercury’s endorsement interview, Yes on 106 campaign spokesperson Nichole Bentz told us the campaign “hadn’t considered” the impact it would have on low-income women.
Unfortunately, dozens of other states have given us a preview of how Measure 106 could impact Oregon women. In the 33 states that have adopted the federal model of banning public dollars from covering abortion costs, women are going into debt to pay for the procedure, delaying important healthcare, missing work to drive to out-of-state clinics, undergoing dangerous illegal abortions, or going through with a pregnancy they know they’re not ready for.
To be clear: Getting an abortion is never, never an easy decision. It isn’t a fun decision. It isn’t a decision that comes without consequences and long-term trauma. But it is a decision. And since 1973, women in the US have been granted the freedom to make this extremely personal decision about their bodies, lives, and futures without explanation or apology. Measure 106 will take that freedom away from Oregon women.
Oregon is the only state in the nation without laws restricting a woman’s access to safe and legal abortion. Meanwhile, Oregon has continued to push for policies that expand reproductive health coverage, like the 2017 Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), laying the groundwork for other state-level legislation across the country. States look to Oregon to lead the way to a future where women’s health care is as unregulated as men’s. With a conservative-learning US Supreme Court presenting a new threat to federal abortion policies, we need to hold tight to the few protections our state can offer women of all income levels. Vote no on Measure 106.
The Mercury Election Strike Force is News Editor Alex Zielinski, Executive Editor Erik Henriksen, Editor-in-Chief Wm. Steven Humphrey, Senior Editor Ciara Dolan, Arts Editor Suzette Smith, and Copy Chief Jenni Moore.