Tigard First's Voter Guide: our recommendations and endorsements
Democratic Nomination for President: Bernie Sanders
This contest is not about selecting the best person to nominate. Instead, it's really a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party. The contrasts between the two candidates are substantial and go to the root of the Party's identity crisis: Is this the party of Roosevelt and JFK, who thought big and sought to make sweeping changes in their first terms of office? Or is this the party of steady, incremental improvement, as exemplified by both the Clinton and the Obama Presidencies?
In every argument between Sanders and Clinton supporters, this seems to be what the discussion really comes down to: Can we still accomplish big, bold things? or should we be happy to keep pushing for small changes that improve the lives of various constituencies and interests, within the confines of our present political climate?
We found it deeply ironic that the candidate who is essentially advocating for FDR's 'Second Bill of Rights' and MLK's 'Economic and Social Bill of Rights' comes under so much criticism by the candidate who is the favorite of the Democratic Party Establishment. It speaks volumes for how much the party has lost it's way over the last 30 years. The true Democrat in this race is ridiculed as not being 'a real democrat' and being a 'dreamer'.
We feel the American people are ready for the progressive message of Bernie Sanders. We've seen it in event after event since our first 'house party' last July: people are energized and excited by the possibility of making big changes in our society. People who haven't voted in years, or have been participating outside both major parties, have been happily putting in hundreds and thousands of hours volunteering for the 'Democratic Socialist'. This enthusiasm has been lacking in the increasingly lackluster, corporate controlled and driven Democratic Party of recent years.
Bold ideas capture the imagination and motivate people to strive to be better. But the current Democratic Party is afraid of anything that upsets the status quo too much. This has much to do with the former Clintonites who are running the DNC and the state party organizations throughout the nation. The Party Establishment has gotten too cozy with corporate interests and a handful of rich donors over the years, and this prevents big, bold ideas from ever being discussed within the party, let alone having any chance of being implemented. The perpetual hesitancy to upset one corporate constituency or the other, and the failure to put the needs of the working class over all else has given us candidates who are unable to articulate any clear vision of what might be possible if we all work together. Instead, we get platitudes and a series of half-measures. And the American people continue to suffer. It's why we have the Affordable Care Act instead of a Single Payer Health Care system. It's why, here in Oregon - with a Democratic majority in the House and Senate along with a Democratic Governor- a $15 an hour minimum wage was at first deemed too radical, and after much hand-wringing in the last legislative session, will only become a reality 6 years from now, and then only in the most populous parts of the state.
This lack of vision and reluctance to change has taken it's toll nationally. Under the current leadership of the DNC, Democrats have lost the majority in the Senate (54-44 GOP), the majority in the House (246-188) and hold only 18 Governorships. Republicans hold majorities in 31 of the 50 State Legislatures also. Clearly, the model hasn't been working. But Hillary Clinton and the people managing the party continue to serve up platitudes and feel-good rhetoric, while arguing that everything's fine and only incremental changes are needed for what ails this nation. Hillary wrapped herself tightly in the Obama flag, describing her Presidency as a 'third Obama term'. In a recent interview with Willamette Week, author Thomas Frank observed: "...she’s openly running as the complacency candidate, saying America is already great. It’s sort of a peculiar position for a liberal candidate. She’s actually been saying a lot of good things, but she’s only saying them because she needs to stop Bernie."
We believe that over the last 30 years, even when Democrats held the Presidency, this country has continued to fall behind. We need new ideas and real leadership. We can't wait for small changes. We can't wait for what the establishment, or media pundits, think is 'practical'. Bernie Sanders has made this clear to anyone who would listen, and as a result, this powerful wake-up call has resonated across this nation. We heard it too. In house parties, barnstorming rallies, phonebanking parties, and the huge rallies at Moda Center, we've seen thousands of enthusiastic volunteers who are tired of the way things are, and who dream of what could be. These are the people that used to be the foundation of the Democratic Party. They are people motivated to devote thousands of hours of their time to elect an old, grumpy guy from Vermont who speaks truth to power. We hope the party catches on before it's too late.
Senator: Kevin Stine
It speaks volumes that Ron Wyden has a primary opponent. As the senior Oregon Senator, Wyden has represented the state for 20 years, and lately, he is showing signs that maybe he's overstayed his welcome. While he led strongly on issue of restricting government surveillance of Americans, and was also a proponent of Net Neutrality, he has lost his way carrying water for the Obama administration in his unwavering support of the Trans Pacific Partnership. Wyden made fast-track authority possible for the administration. He is another example of a Democrat in search of principles (see Hillary Clinton above).
Kevin Stine, a city councilman from Medford, has been running a principled, people-focussed campaign which has received a lot of enthusiastic volunteers in the months since he announced. He's not afraid to think big and has a good grasp of the issues that matter.
Governor: Julian Bell
Kate Brown has a long history in Oregon government. From her many terms in the Oregon legislature to her time as Secretary of State, it's a natural progression that she would become governor someday. No one could predict the strange set of circumstances that annointed her to the state's higher office, and we still find some of her behavior in the last days of the Kitzhaber reign to be puzzling. She quickly took the reigns of power in the middle of a legislative session, and led Democrats to some significant legislative achievement. But....she presided over the disintegration of a major transportation funding deal to fix our crumbling infrastructure last year. This year, out of fear of upsetting the business lobby, she first tried to squash an attempt to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour over 3 years. When she wasn't successful, she shepherded through a proposal to only allow $14.50 an hour over 6 years, and then only in the state's most populous areas. She could have done better, she could have thought big. When you're a sitting Governor, and you have a majority in the house AND senate, it's hard to believe that the other side can stall your initiatives (in the case of the transportation bill), or cause you to significantly water-down a bill that would have given a raise to over 500,000 Oregonians (in the case of the minimum wage). With her considerable experience, she should have developed the leadership skills by now to get these things done. We suspect special interests were really pulling the strings in both cases. The Governor has also stumbled badly in keeping watch over state government, with the Department of Justice spying on local Portland activists, and the Department of Environmental Quality asleep when they should have been monitoring air pollution in Portland. We deserve better than this.
Julian Bell is another candidate who is listening closely to voters, isn't beholden to corporate interests or big financial donors, and has the leadership skills to take the state in a new direction.
Secretary of State: Brad Avakian
Val Hoyle has been in the legislature for awhile now, and she has proven herself a competent public servant. But we have personally seen Hoyle use her influence to kill grassroots efforts to address the influence of big money in politics. A big part of being Secretary of State is to watch over Oregon's campaign finance reporting system, and to manage petitions for initiatives and referendums. All of them inevitably involve money, influence and special interests.
Richard Devlin has also been a legislator for a long time, but his accomplishments are lackluster at best.
Brad Avakian, currently the state's Labor Commissioner, has distinguished himself as a champion for working people. He listens to people's concerns and he understands very well how corporate interests try to manipulate state and local governments for their benefit.
Washington County Commission District 3: Glendora Claybrooks
Roy Rogers has been our County Commissioner for almost 30 years. Apparently having never met a development he didn't like, he works with Chairman Andy Duyck to keep the county developer-friendly. But the makeup of the county has changed in the time he's been in office, and the prevailing concerns of its citizens has shifted from promoting growth to maintaining our quality of life. It's high time we had a commissioner representing this point of view.
Metro Commissioner District 3: Gerritt Rosenthal
This one is easy. Although both candidates have significant experience and expertise, only Gerritt Rosenthal believes that climate change is caused by humans. In a recent candidate forum, Craig Dirksen said he wasn't sure (see the video). With Metro having responsibility for planning the growth of the region for the next generation of residents, we think this is all you really need to know. Rosenthal has expert knowledge in environmental and sustainability issues, and we recommend him highly.