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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Portland Poster Child for Open Primaries in Oregon: Senate District 23

The 2008 elections for Senate District 23 and its two House components, HD 45 and HD 46, illustrate perfectly the value to Oregonians of Measure 65.

When the voters of these three districts open their ballots, they will see that they have no real choice in who will represent them in the Oregon House and Senate.

Much like elections in the former Soviet bloc and in North Korea, one candidate is all the system needs to produce in order to validate the result.

The voters are losers not only because the present, partisan system denies them a choice on Election Day, but also because the candidates for these public offices are able to spend the entire period between the primary and the general election laying low, avoiding controversy, playing it safe, and public discourse is thus both stifled and irrelevant to the outcome.

The question of who will represent HD 46 was decided back at the March filing deadline, when Ben Cannon was the only applicant.

It is likely that other candidates would have been willing to step up and try to overcome the incumbent’s advantages if the system held out the possibility of a second shot at the title, but it does not do so and Mr. Cannon drew a double walk, May AND November.

The questions of House District 45 and Senate District 23 are an entirely different matter.

There were two or more applicants for each of these jobs in the primary, and under Measure 65 there would still be two candidates for each office in November, and thus a reason to educate voters and to be educated by voters.

Amazingly enough, at no time during the entire year were the candidates for Senate District 23 and House Districts 45 and 46 called upon to appear jointly for a public sizing-up.

One of the burning questions of the day that would have been of great interest to the constituents of SD 23, HD 45 and HD 46, since it involves two major streets that slice through the Senate district, is the street-renaming effort organized by the Committee-Once-Bent-on-Renaming-Interstate-Avenue.

The Committee is now making an assault on the entire lengths of Broadway and 39th Avenue, which run through the district, and Grand, which doesn’t.

None of the three candidates in the November General Election have had diddly-wink to say about the renaming effort, doubtlessly because they do not want to risk losing the support of the still-secret members of the Chavez Boulevard Committee, but it is a legitimate subject for public discussion.

The constituents have good reason to want to know where the candidates stand on the issue.

The fact that the street-renaming Avenistas have chosen the path most likely to frustrate and anger the residents of the streets in question makes the question all the more important to voters.

Of the available options under city code, the Avenistas have opted not to talk to the residents, but to gather signatures from across the city….

…and the fact that Jackie Dingfelder was the lone legislator who supported renaming Interstate Avenue last fall (see link below) would seem to indicate that she also supports renaming one or more of these streets after Cesar Chavez, but who knows?

The lone candidates for HD 45 and HD 46 aren’t saying, either.


The Oregonian Editorial Board on Measure 65:

“Voters would be better able to choose their true representatives by approving Measure 65 and adopting the "top-two" open primary.”


Letters in support of renaming Interstate Avenue:


Sean Cruz writes Blogolitical


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi Sean -- thanks for explaining the effects of Measure 65 on strongly Democratic districts. You're absolutely right -- one choice is not a choice!