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A Grin at the End: Power of choice – A ballot of ideas

carl sampson

We’re going to hire a new CEO for the state of Oregon next month, and the sparks are flying, as independent and former state Sen. Betsy Johnson has the Democratic candidate, former Speaker of the House Tina Kotek in attack mode. Apparently, Kotek’s getting nervous.

Meanwhile, the Republican candidate, former House minority leader Christine Drazan, seems to be running a mainline campaign aimed at rural Oregonians in addition to those in Portland.

All of the chatter is about the three “major” candidates, but there are also three others on the ballot. For the record, they are R. Leon Noble, a Libertarian; Donice Smith, Constitutional Party; and Nathalie Paravicini of the Pacific Green and Progressive parties.

I made a point of listing them because nearly all of the coverage you read and hear will focus on the Big Three. The others will be ignored because the media is in the business of picking winners, not covering elections, which should be the ultimate marketplace of ideas and ideals.

Yes, I know. That is a starry-eyed, idealistic way to look at a representative democracy. If that’s the case, I will plead guilty. 

I believe in the right to choose – a governor and members of the House and Senate who will keep my interests in mind as they carry out the state’s business. I want them to reflect me, and my neighbors. In nautical parlance, I want them to keep the ship of state in the main channel and not turn it into the Exxon Valdez of politics. Which is kind of what we’ve had the past few years.

We saw what happened in Portland when peaceful demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter were hijacked by others with no higher goal than to raise hell. That they were allowed to continue for weeks was astounding to many, including me. The mayor and city council demonstrated total ineptitude when they needed to show a little backbone and inform the rioters that it was time to go home or go to jail.

Now they are faced with the huge job of rebuilding the public’s trust in the city’s leadership.

No one could have predicted that Portland would turn into Crazy Town – before it did. 

That’s why elections are so important. Voters – all of us – are tasked with the job of choosing the best candidates who not only align with our stances on various issues but will rise to the occasion when the unpredictable happens.

No one could have predicted that China would drop a global pandemic in the laps of our governor and legislature, but it did. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I will tell you I am not happy with how they handled it. We are still trying to rebuild the economy – and our lives – after the state government knocked a hole in them. 

How they reacted should be noted as we mark our ballots. We should reward those who have done well –
in our opinion – and reject those who have not.

No doubt other surprises are in store for the next governor and legislature. We need to hire people who are up the task. Good judgment, empathy and a stiff backbone will be needed in the years ahead.

Carl Sampson is a freelance writer and editor.
He lives in Stayton.

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