Portland, Oregon—With less than 30 days until ballots are due, the first public debate on Senate District 23 will at long last take place!
Voters will finally have an opportunity to hear the candidates in an open forum, instead of the closed, back-room PAC endorsement interviews that have characterized the race so far.
It is absolutely astonishing that an election of this importance should escape the notice of the many entities that have offered forums on other races.
Even the fledgling Oregon League of Minority Voters (OLMV) could not find either Senate District 23 or House District 45, the only contested legislative primaries featuring minority candidates, on the map.
Should the marvelously-gifted Cyreena Boston win her race for HD 45, she will be the first African American to serve in the Oregon House since Joann Bowman nearly a decade ago. There has been no debate scheduled on the race.
The Senate District 23 race arises due to the retirement of Senator Avel Gordly. Senate District 23 is the most diverse district in the state, by race, ethnicity and income. A central question is: As the state becomes more diverse, should the Senate become less diverse.
House District 45 is the northern half of Senate District 23. Voters in HD 45 will elect a new State Representative AND a new State Senator, yet there has been no public debate or forum focusing on these races!
Residents of HD 45 should be demanding a forum in the district—at least ONE forum—before the ballots are due.
The May 2 Senate District 23 candidate forum will take place in HD 46, the southern half of the Senate District.
The Forum is sponsored by the Urban League of Portland, the African American Alliance, the Portland chapter of the NAACP, the National Association of Minority Contractors Oregon, the Coalition of Black Men, and Highland Christian Church.
Candidates for Senate District 23 and State Attorney General will face off Friday, May 2nd, 6-8:00 p.m. at Highland Christian Center, 7600 NE Glisan St., Portland, Oregon 97213.
State Senate District 23 candidates Sean Cruz and Jackie Dingfelder will kick off the debates at 6 pm, followed by Oregon Attorney General Candidates John Kroger and Greg Macpherson.
The two races were chosen for their particular impact on the African American community. The successful Attorney General candidate will be expected to address the disproportionate number of African Americans incarcerated in Oregon (8.9%), the issues of drug enforcement and treatment, and gun crime.
State Senate District 23 candidates are seeking to replace Senator Avel Gordly, a longtime advocate of communities of color in the State legislature.
Opio Sokoni, attorney and general manager of KBMS FM radio, will moderate the evening’s proceedings. Questions from audience members will be posed to the candidates at the end of each 45 minute debate. Refreshments will be served at the end of the forum.
Admission is free and open to the public.
CALL TO ACTION: Demand a public candidate forum in House District 45 that focuses on who will represent the district in both chambers of the Oregon State Legislature!
Take these races from the closed-door special-interest PACs that have dominated the campaigns so far and air them in public!
Time is short, and the time is yours.