May 15 Election Guide
By now, you’ve discovered a ballot in your mailbox and thought, “Huh, I guess there’s an election.” YOU ARE CORRECT! But, before that ballot gets buried in your recycling bin, we’d like to remind you why this election matters and who we think deserves your oval scribble of approval. We don’t care if you’re “not really a political person” or if you “have no hope in humanity.” Your vote matters.
The May 15 primary gives you the power to vote new politicians into nearly every level of government—or to double-down on supporting the incumbent officials you’d like to see stick around.
But there’s also something that makes this primary extra important: It might be the most diverse election in Portland’s history.
This election has propelled an astounding number of women and non-white candidates into the spotlight, created a stage for Portland’s long-ignored minority voices, and handed a megaphone to activists who are tired of being relegated to the political sidelines. Immigrants, cop watchdogs, disability rights activists, former investigative journalists, and small business owners are all running serious campaigns to disrupt the status quo.
Based on statistics alone, there’s a big possibility that Portland will elect its first woman of color to city council—and an even bigger possibility that the city will end up with its first majority-female council.
Perhaps we can blame the Trump regime for this crop of inspired, ambitious candidates. Maybe it’s a response to Mayor Ted Wheeler’s steady call to expand the city’s police force, or it could be one of the few good effects of Portland’s affordable housing crisis.
Or maybe it’s just damn time we heard from someone new.
Refreshing policy ideas and powerful demands for justice from new candidates have forced the region’s traditional politicians—straight, white, and male—to shut up and listen. And yes, we still decided to endorse a couple of those guys, but not after thinking long and hard about their record of listening to, and acting on, underrepresented voices.
Most of these endorsement decisions weren’t easy to make. And with so many races to watch, we weren’t able to unpack every single one on the ballot. Our focus this time around is largely on the competitive races that will matter to people living in Multnomah County.
We also skipped little-watched judicial races, Republican primaries, and uncontested Democrats. Some races, like the one for governor, won’t deserve much attention until November’s general election, when party candidates will be pitted against each other. We don’t think Gov. Kate Brown will have too much trouble getting Democrats’ votes this May. Same goes for sitting Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury (although we’d like to keep hearing from her challenger, D Bora Harris, especially on issues of racial justice) as well as Metro President candidate Lynn Peterson.
While some contenders in the primary race against US Congressman Earl Blumenauer bring youthful vigor to the table, none of them offer the kind of experience or backing that would get them to the Blum’s level. The primary race to unseat US Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici also hasn’t attracted strong contenders who we believe are serious about shaking up Capitol Hill. Keep an eye out for our coverage on these two reelection campaigns as we near November.
You’ll notice we also dodged in-depth interviews with the three candidates running to replace Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, the badass most famously known for taking an anti-LGBT Gresham bakery to the Oregon Supreme Court. We believe the state’s labor unions did the job for us by throwing all their weight behind Val Hoyle, who formerly represented Eugene and Junction City in the state House of Representatives. If elected, Hoyle will be the second woman to hold the position in Oregon history.
Okay, enough about the people we didn’t talk to. Check out the links in the upper right corner of this article to learn more about the candidates we think deserve your time (and vote).