Below we offer endorsements for some contested races in the May 15th Primary Election that we feel strongly about.

But maybe the most important message we have for our readers is this:


Turnout in primary elections in Salem is generally awful. Two years ago in Marion County, less than half of the eligible voters bothered to vote. And that was a Presidential primary election.

This year we don’t have Bernie vs. Hillary or Trump vs. all those other guys. It will probably be a miracle if we reach the pathetic voting total in 2016. So don’t be one of the slackers. Get out your ballot, grab a stamp and vote. Or put your ballot in one of the many convenient drop sites around town (four Roth’s Markets around town have them).

As a citizen you have a responsibility to vote. Do it!

Marion County Commissioner, Position 2 (Democrat) — Bill Burgess

It’s terrific that there are three strong Democrats that are vying to take on Republican Brad Nanke or Colm Willis in the General Election this fall. Sadie Carney and Matt Plummer both seem like attractive candidates, but both are newcomers to the political arena. Bill Burgess, on the other hand, has an elected public service career stretching back to 1990 when he served two terms on the Salem City Council. His excellent reputation and name recognition gives him the best shot to end the conservative Republican hegemony on the Marion County Board of Commissioners.

Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner — Val Hoyle

Val Hoyle would make a wonderful new Commissioner at the Bureau of Labor and Industries, succeeding the retiring Brad Avakian. She has served seven years as a State Representative representing part of Lane County and was formerly the House Majority Leader. She comes from a working class background and has been a union member and a small business owner. Her two opponents don’t come close to her qualifications and track record as a champion for working families. If Hoyle can get more than 50% of the vote she can avoid a runoff in the fall.

Marion County Circuit Court Judge, Position 5 — Jon Weiner

Jon Weiner, who has practiced law in Marion County for nearly two decades, appears to have two equally well-qualified opponents in the race for this open seat on the Marion County Circuit Court. However we were impressed by his service on the Board of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency and his other community service work. We were also swayed by his endorsements by attorneys like former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Sue Leeson, former Salem Mayor Mike Swaim and Attorney John Gear.

Salem City Councilor, Ward 8 — Micki Varney

Micki Varney served as a city councilor in Washington State before moving to Salem in 2010 to further her career as a salmon biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. In Salem she has been a leader in the local chapter of the American Association of University Women, serving a term as their President. She is also a leader in her union. She is trying to unseat incumbent Jim Lewis, who is a throwback to the bad old days when business interests called all the shots on the Salem City Council. In this race he has raised double the amount that Varney has raised, much of it coming from homebuilders and Realtors. He says he can deliver a Third Bridge if re-elected in Ward 8. But even he knows that would be impossible, and we trust voters in Ward 8 are smart enough to know it too.

Salem-Keizer School District Bond Measure 24-429 — Yes

The Salem-Keizer School District has done a good job of planning to accommodate future student enrollment in our growing community. It is indicative of this that there is no organized opposition to their $619.7 million bond measure — not even one argument in opposition in the voter pamphlet. While the measure will cost property owners $1.24 per $1,000 of assessed valuation ($310 a year for a $250,000 home), it will take care of our needs for school facilities until 2035. Many of our schools are beyond their capacity now. For example, there are now 22 portable classrooms at McKay High School. Another need that the measure addresses is completing seismic upgrades in all our schools. This is essential to prevent tragic loss of life in the next Cascadia earthquake that we know could come at any time. There is no question that this bond measure is a big ask, and may present challenges for people on fixed incomes. But we owe it to our young people to not have to settle for crowded and crumbling and unsafe schools. It’s an obligation we can’t ignore.