Letter writers from around the region take aim at COVID-19 pandemic, elections, candidate endorsements and, of course, hoarding.

PMG ILLUSTRATIONOur struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in ways we never foresaw. One problem we now endure is shortages. Toilet paper, soap, disinfectants, frozen pizzas, the list goes on.

When we go to the grocery store, we see empty shelves. The grocers strive to restock foods quickly, but some patrons fear what they see today will be gone tomorrow. So, prudent shoppers buy more than what they need immediately, just in case.

I never fully realized how deep the disruption has become until last week, when I went to the store to buy garbanzo beans. I like hummus, a condiment often served in Greek and Lebanese restaurants. It is filled with protein and vitamins and few calories. A good snack. Hummus has become an important part of my diet. The dish is easy to prepare, and garbanzo beans are the principal ingredient. I use them frequently, but I was out.

At the shelf, I reached for three small cans of the beans but then I saw the sign: I could only take two. Not long before, they were selling 10 cans of garbanzos for $10. But I thought then buying all those at once would be greedy. Imprudent?

For garbanzo beans are now subject to rationing, as tires and gasoline during World War II.

I should not have been surprised. Stores are warning us that staple foods such as meat and fish may become less available. I guess hummus fans must share the burden.

We hear many loud complaints about who is responsible for our predicament. Yet, despite President Trump's intimations, I am sure President Obama is not responsible for the shortage of garbanzo beans.

As I wrote this paper, I was down to one can. I thought I had better go back and see if I could score another one. Lots of beans were on the shelves, white beans, cannelli beans, red beans, black beans, navy beans, baked beans. But no garbanzos.

Am I being punished for trying to do the right thing?

Richard Botteri

Raleigh Hills

Bull Run filtration needed to protect people

With regard to the Bull Run water filtration project, I am fully behind funding.

It is, without a doubt, necessary to remove the potentially dangerous and deadly cryptosporidium from the Bull Run water. As a victim, having suffered with cryptosporidium a few years ago, I hope others do not come down with it. It is dreadful.

I urge our city council members to take this seriously and give us what we need, making us safe.

Sue Beardwood

Southwest Portland

Congress should provide rent relief in pandemic

Thanks for the thoughtful article by Steve Messinetta, "Virus underlies dire need for housing" (Portland Tribune May 6).

My immediate family, children and grandkids are fine. But on Mother's Day, walking downtown, my husband and I wondered not only how these people living in tents or cardboard houses were faring, but also thought about people we don't come in to contact with who are struggling to put food on their table and pay the rent.

Although it's easy to be resigned with the status quo, the great news is we all have the power to change the course of events. Yes we do. is working to help everyday people make sure their voice is heard. Ask your members of Congress to provide the rent relief needed (at least $100 billion), increase SNAP by 15 percent or more and increase funding (to include COVID relief) for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

So today let's call, email or set up on one visits with your senator and or representative so we can end this pandemic locally, nationally and globally. In the end we all win.

Janet Brumbaugh

West Linn

Health care emergencies need more congressional help

Nick Budnick's May 6 article ("Oregon's search for swabs key to reopening economy") on the search for swabs was informative.

The New York Times has reported that testing supplies and personal protective equipment are being snatched from blue states by the federal government for redistribution to red states.

In the meantime, the federal government has only partially covered the costs of COVID-19 testing and treatment and has made it very difficult for unemployed workers to receive direct payments. Workers need guaranteed income so they can stay at home if they are sick or if their employers do not provide sufficient protection.

The new Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act (sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jayapal and Sen. Bernie Sanders) would remove cost-based obstacles to health care during the COVID-19 crisis, including care directly related to COVID-19 as well as other continuing health care needs, during the related crises of the economy and lost employment.

Kenneth D. Rosenberg, MD, MPH

Chief Science Officer, Oregon Public Health Division, retired

OHSU-PSU School of Public Health

Northeast Portland

Postal Service and the COVID-19 crisis

The U.S. Postal Service is vitally important for battling the twin calamities of the COVID-19 health and economic crises. The impact of the pandemic on the Postal Service's financial situation will damage its ability to provide crucial service to our country if decisive action isn't taken by Congress and the administration.

From medications to stimulus checks, from census forms to ballots, from medical supplies (including test kits and the coming vaccine) to online orders, the postal service is indispensable to the American people, especially veterans, seniors, small businesses, and those in rural areas.

The COVID-19 economic collapse has caused a 30% drop in mail volume with an expected 50% drop by summer. Postal revenues are falling precipitously. The Postmaster General predicts that the USPS will run out of money by September. The postal service needs a big infusion of funds to continue serving the American people.

The Postal Board of Governors, the postal service's bi-partisan governing body, has called on Congress to appropriate $25 billion immediately and sufficient additional funds over time to sustain the service. Yet, the Trump administration has threatened to veto any stimulus package that provides genuine support to the postal service.

This administration is on record pushing for privatization of the USPS, which would result in big profits for the private owners, but higher prices and less service for the public. Allowing the USPS to go broke would be a set-up to sell it off. For more information, go to

Jamie Partridge

Northeast Portland

Apparently, we are not all in this together

To Gov. Kate Brown: We vulnerable seniors are now trapped in our homes to avoid getting COVID-19 from self-centered people like Glamor Hair in Salem. They are defiantly disobeying your ruling, and doing it publicly. They will continue to threaten other peoples' safety until you arrest them. Your inaction suggests that you are not on the side of safety.

Governor, I am alone and I need to get food and medicine. But as long as there are selfish people wandering the streets flaunting your rules, I and other vulnerable people are at risk. Is this fair? I think not. This defiance would not happen in New York. Why? Because they have a strong governor.

Just because the White House gives people permission to do whatever they want, please remember this: You are in charge in Oregon. Listen to those who listen to Science and Safety; send out a clear signal to those who do not and arrest them.

My health care leader is Dr. (Anthony) Fauci. Who is yours?

Eydie DeVincenzi

Northeast Portland

Editorial on homeless measure was inaccurate

Your endorsement refusal and editorial urging a "no" vote on the Metro homeless Measure 26-210 is factually inaccurate with logical inconsistencies.

Homelessness was the No. 1 concern of your readers going into the pandemic. If we don't do anything about our homelessness crisis now, we will lose the community we love when coming out it.

A few factual corrections worth noting: The ballot measure was not written "hurriedly" by Metro: it was created over two years by a coalition of well-informed organizations and individuals, aided by expert reports. As your paper stated: "the Metro homeless services measure may be supported by the largest coalition ever put together for a funding request. Ballot Measure 26-210 is endorsed by a Who's Who of hundreds of regional community leaders, nonprofit organizations, business groups, labor unions and activists."

The measure does not impede the recovery of the economy. In fact, it will be an economic stimulus by providing systemic relief for those experiencing chronic and episodic homelessness. More than 94% of all businesses and 90% of individuals will pay zero taxes under this measure.

Meanwhile, the proceeds of the revenue will be used in our local economy to ensure case managers, mental and physical health providers, alcohol and drug treatment counselors, job trainers, and other frontline service providers have the resources they need to support the 30,000 people in our community experiencing homelessness.

We do not want our area to continue to be recognized as No. 1 in the country for child homelessness, nor do we want to see people's misery every day while they are sleeping on the streets. Rather than your sentiment of "nice but not now," the correct response is now more than ever, we can — and must — do better here together, and with Measure 26-210, we will.

Robert Stoll

Chair, HereTogether

Southwest Portland

Are Oregonians being governed or ruled?

With the extension of her executive order requiring Oregonians to shelter-in-place until July 6, Gov. Kate Brown has, in my opinion, demonstrated her complete and utter disregard for the economic damage her orders have caused the citizens of this state.

Her earlier executive order making the cap-and-trade bill into state law was another demonstration of her utter disregard for the wishes of the electorate of this state.

The fact that the Republicans twice used the same technique first demonstrated by the Democrats several years ago to subvert her wishes for the cap-and-trade bill so incensed the governor's sense of decorum that she apparently decided she could be a dictator and do what she wishes by fiat.

When those who govern are subject to the same laws as the citizens at whom the laws are directed, we are governed. When those who govern are not subject to those same laws, we are ruled. I believe we are being ruled by an arbitrary executive.

I would direct your attention to the second paragraph of the U.S. Declaration of Independence for a primer on what our forefathers thought our actions should be when faced with a ruler instead of a fellow citizen who happens to be governor.

Mike Early


Brown out of touch on business tax decisions

Your front page article regarding Gov. Kate Brown the new corporate (activities) tax (April 29) tells us all we need to know about Brown and the future of the state.

Admittedly, Kate Brown has never run a business, made a payroll or balanced a check book. She apparently will never consider any set of circumstance or emergency facing those citizens who need to work for a living. Her exclusive world is one of more and higher taxes, with no thought of accountability or damage to real people in the state.

By cloaking her argument on the tired and worn out Student Success Act, Brown makes shallow, opaque and inaccurate statements to justify her illogical thinking. Couple this travesty with the reality that Sen. Betsy Johnson as warned us about (In the Tribune and elsewhere) for months and we see a display of caviler arrogance Gov. Brown is known for.

Betsy Johnson, as a leading figure in the Salem financial community and legislative body has told us the truth (warned us repeatedly), the bulk of this money will not go to any silly Student Success Act but will be diverted to funding the collapsing PERS fiasco that's devouring the state.

Gov. Brown and her peers are unaffected by the COVID-19 virus. Although she gives lip service to the devastation, her actions reflect a far different set of priorities. Businesses large and small are facing a problem never before considered in our nation's history. Business as usual is not an option, nor should taxation as usual be acceptable.

Kate Brown is clearly not up to the task of creative governing. Her history is one of seeking more taxes for each and every issue or problem. By making inane statements like, "We are not talking about your local pizza shop, corner store or your barber," it makes it perfectly clear how out of touch Brown is with reality. Higher taxes will cripple businesses and as those industries suffer, they will be less capable of supporting those smaller businesses (assuming Brown ever allows smaller businesses to open).

No, Gov. Brown is like a hologram, an imaginary thing that exists with no center or defined purpose other than to have the same sorry reaction to each problem she faces, raise taxes, lie about the intended purpose and never bother with accountability.

Businesses are suffering and Brown is not the person to understand their plight. (I say this just as Metro asks citizens for more money to fund another bureaucratic nightmare disguised as a "homeless" initiative). What are they thinking?

Jim Speirs

North Portland

I-5 expansion could make traffic worse, not better

I found Brian Libby's insight in, "Learning From Portland's Harbor Drive" to be sadly true.

The proposed expansion of Interstate 5 at Rose Quarter may not bring the relief it promises. Robert Moses, the city official and "master builder" of mid-20th century New York City promised to ease congestion in NYC's bridges and parkways time and again by his building more bridges and highways: The Triborough Bridge in 1936; The Wantagh State Parkway Extension in 1938; the Bronx-Whitestone bridge for examples. ("The Power Broker, Robert Moses and the Fall of New York," by Robert A. Caro, Knopf 1974. Pgs. 515-520).

With each new addition, instead of a reduction of traffic in New York City from the increase in options for getting around, traffic only got worse, much worse. Why? Because the promise of easier, faster driving conditions brought additional drivers into the stream.

Lesson learned? Even smart transportation planners may not be able to predict with certainty what the result of expanding I-5 will be. If our goal for the city is less congestion, let's not invite more driving.

Jane Pullman

Northwest Portland

COVID-19 not the only crisis we're facing

From diabetes to hypertension and asthma, people of color have pre-existing conditions that leave them at higher risk during health crises such as COVID-19 and the climate emergency. Countless studies have been conducted proving this reality, but what's worse is knowing how long this fact has been apparent in our society and yet continues to go unresolved.

What this pandemic has done is exposed deep structural inequities amongst marginalized communities — of which are vulnerable to health issues regardless of how the rest of the world is doing. Imagine already having to worry about being able to breathe the air in your neighborhood, due to contaminants from polluting industries setting up shop in your community, and then being hit by news of a virus outbreak particularly more severe for individuals with breathing disabilities.

People of color are in double jeopardy because of the malice directed towards them by urban development and consistent environmental hazards creeping into their living spaces. Not only are these individuals more vulnerable, they're also less able to respond and cope with crises as many are often uninsured.

Truth is, COVID-19 isn't the only crisis we're facing and it hasn't been easy for Oregonians on the frontlines. We're seeing record-breaking wildfires destroying our forests and snowpack melting at alarming rates, leaving reservoirs dismal and tribal communities dependent on water systems and its resources in distress.

News like this is heartbreaking considering the loss of culturally important species, such as salmon, makes it difficult for tribal elders to pass their history on to future generations. So for their sake, for those that are the first to suffer despite being the least responsible, let's work together to uplift their voices and demand change.

Sharona Shnayder


We want the best person in the 5th District race

Everything changed when Trump got elected. People woke up; I know I did.

I researched, read and eventually started a podcast. I learned that the Justice Democrats were asking for nominations for people to run for Congress. I looked around and didn't see anyone stepping up, so I submitted an application for my husband to challenge Kurt Schrader, one of the worst Dems in Congress. I quoted Milwaukie mayor, Mark Gamba in the application as saying, "There's not a single Democrat that wouldn't love to see Schrader primaried."

Months passed, and I learned that Mark, himself, would be challenging Schrader. I immediately signed up to volunteer. When it was time to canvass, I met Mark in person. He recognized me from my podcast and was very friendly. He asked my 12-year-old daughter, who was canvassing with me, what her No. 1 issue was. She answered, "Climate change," Mark said, "Hey! Me too! High five!" He later gave myself and my daughter his business cards with his personal cell on it and said he always wants to be available to his constituents.

Since then, I've text banked, written letters to the editors, made videos, handed out signs, etc. I've also come to adore all of the people that have invested their time to ensure Mark gets elected.

These people make me want to be the best person I can be and are why I believe Mark is as amazing as he seems. He is not a "politician," he is empathetic, passionate and a kind-hearted man.

Niki Falardeau


Rosenthal brings skill, passion to Metro seat

I enthusiastically recommend a vote for Gerritt Rosenthal for Metro Council Position 3 in the May 19th election.

I have worked with Gerritt for a number of years in shared civic volunteer activities, and he is passionate about making regional government work for everyone. He has lived in rural Tualatin for more than 25 years, so has a firm grasp of regional key issues, and is deeply committed to solving our common regional problems fairly and wisely.

His background in environmental and solid waste assessments and land use planning, plus past experience working for both regional government and for municipal and county governments provides him with a broad regional perspective that will serve all of us well in the Metro decision-making that impacts our region.

The Metro Council needs skilled passionate Gerritt Rosenthal on board; please cast your vote for him in this election.

Debby Garman


Kroll should get a seat on Washington County bench

We are jointing writing to endorse Edward Kroll as circuit court judge in Washington County.

Through the years, we have had the pleasure of getting to know Edward Kroll. Sarah has known Edward Kroll since 2012 while she was working in public defense in Washington County and Scott got to know Ed through Sarah. Although Washington County is large, the legal community is small. Sarah witnessed Ed present to the Courts, advocate for his clients and lead the legal community through his work with various legal organizations. Even when Sarah transferred her practice to civil litigation, she still had the opportunity to work with Ed, sharing a mutual client in a different context.

Ed's time in practice has been marked with integrity, professionalism and a dedication to the law. Similarly, if you spoke to him about his family life, you would hear a similar devotion, a quality that will serve him well as he has to evaluate cases that impact the lives of Washington County residents. The need for quality people in these important positions cannot be underestimated. Ed's varied experience, commitment to justice and demeanor are some of the many reasons he will be an excellent Washington County judge.

Vote for Edward Kroll. He is not only the best candidate, but the judge Washington County needs.

Scott and Sarah Kveton

Northwest Portland

Let's re-elect Jim Bernard for Clackamas County

Chairman Jim Bernard and his colleagues have advocated tirelessly for the residents of Clackamas County at Metro government, the state level and even the federal level. He's brought new funding to the County to help us build the desperately needed courthouse (before the old on falls off the cliff in Oregon City). He has advocated for highway funding and secured funds to improve county roads.

On Chair Bernard's watch, Clackamas County is in good financial shape, even going into this unforeseen economic crisis brought on by the global pandemic. With a well-designed and implemented fiscal processes in place, our county has earned the high AAA bond rating. This is the highest possible rating and translates into low interest when our county needs to go out for needed bonds.

Chair Bernard provides much-needed leadership during the current pandemic, provided desperately-needed support to the most vulnerable in our community – particularly seniors, veterans, homeless. Clackamas County was early to declare a County State of Emergency, saving countless lives.

We need him to continue advocating for us at every other level of government, so let's re-elect Chair Bernard to the Clackamas County Commission.

Cornelia Gibson


Reynolds has experience that matters for House

I am writing in support of Dr. Lisa Reynolds to represent my family and community as House Representative for District 36 in Portland. Lisa is endorsed by the Portland Tribune, Willamette Week and the Oregonian. As a health care worker, parent, and community volunteer, I strongly believe Dr. Reynolds will represent the best interests of all members of our community.

During this unprecedented public health crisis, the fragility and disparities of our health care system have been laid bare. In-depth medical knowledge and first hand connections to health care systems and how they serve the public is paramount. Unfortunately, this experience is minimal in our current legislature. Dr. Reynolds embodies these skills and would bring a new perspective to issues that have become divisive and partisan.

Through this devastating epidemic can come opportunity. That opportunity for Oregon should be Dr. Lisa Reynolds.

Deedra Weill

Southwest Portland

Saultz has skills to rebuild Oregon economy

Democratic candidate Andy Saultz is the right person to represent House District 33 and will move Oregon forward in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andy is a college professor who researches the intersections between education, health, and economic policy. Now more than ever, we need Legislators with expertise in these areas and his skill set will be instrumental in rebuilding Oregon's economy, supporting workers and small businesses, giving students the tools to succeed, and making healthcare affordable and accessible for all Oregonians.

In addition to Andy's impressive policy background, he has deep roots in our community and an impressive track record of consensus building. He and his wife both grew up in HD 33, attended Sunset High School, and are now raising their sons in the community that they grew up in. Andy's willingness to listen, include community voices in policymaking, and consider other perspectives will make him an incredible representative for the people of HD 33.

I urge everyone in House District 33 to vote for Andy Saultz. He will be an outstanding partner and truly represent the needs of HD 33 and Senate District 17.

State Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, MD


Mapps is a city leader for tough times

Portlanders have a steep array of choices to make come May 19. One issue that I'm focused on as I make my decision is how we're going to rebuild our economy. COVID-19 has ravaged small businesses and upended employment numbers and Portlanders are feeling the effects. Soon we will be turning to our local officials and community leaders to guide Portland into a place of economic normalcy.

After reading OPB's landscape of the Position 4 race, I'm convinced that we need the strong redevelopment-based leadership of Mingus Mapps. Mapps has a wealth of experience in what we'll be struggling with on the tail-end of this pandemic. Whether it be working with the city of Portland's Neighborhood Association to strengthen community ties or serving as a leader amongst small businesses in Historic Parkrose, Mingus' strengths are aligned with our needs. His emphasis on evidence and listening-based policies indicate that he will be a passionate voice for Portlanders in the journey to rebuild, a dramatic departure from the current tenure of Commission Chloe Eudaly.

I hope that my fellow neighbors will do their part to learn about Mingus, check out his website or Zoom call and vote for him in the upcoming primary.

Nicholas Gothard

Southwest Portland

Bussell will help navigate state's 'new normal'

My name is Anu Sawkar, and I live in Washington County within House District 33. I am an environmental attorney, and I am supporting Serin Bussell for our next state representative.

In addition to the new normal of coronavirus, Oregon is facing climate, education, and health care crises. We need to act now and make sure we are better prepared for what is to come. Serin is the best candidate to help Oregon navigate these challenges, and work for a more equitable future.

Serin believes we must invest in public transportation, renewable energy projects, and a Just Transition for workers. She believes we need to hold polluters accountable, and work alongside impacted communities to fight for environmental justice.

Serin is a geologist, former chief of staff to state Sen. Jeff Golden, and the board chair of Crag Law Center (an environmental nonprofit). She knows that we have to be ready for the next "Big One," she understands how our State government works, and she has been supporting the fight against fossil fuel infrastructure expansion in Oregon.

I am voting for Serin Bussell on May 19, and I encourage you to do the same.

Anu Sawkar

Northwest Portland

Stephenson will fight for Oregon families

Now more than ever we need partners at the state level who will give the people of Washington County the voice they deserve in the Capitol. That's why I'm elated to endorse Christina Stephenson for House District 33.

As the only small business owner seeking election in District 33, Christina brings real-world perspective to many of the issues important to rebuilding our economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Christina firmly believes businesses that don't play by the rules shouldn't have a competitive advantage in this state, which is why she works not only to level the playing field for responsible businesses, but to also fight for tax code fairness.

In her position as a civil rights lawyer, Christina has made advocating for others her life's work. Christina shares my longtime goal of improving access to government for all citizens of Washington County, particularly people of color. She'll fight for fairness and demand inclusion.

As both a caretaker to a dying parent and a mother forced to return to work much too soon after the birth of her son, she has fought to ensure that Oregonians have access to sufficient bereavement and family leave. Her work helped to get paid family medical leave passed last session, the most progressive bill of its kind in the country. The current pandemic dramatically underscores the importance of paid family medical leave to provide economic stability and I know Christina will work to expand vital programs for working Oregonians.

Experiencing unstable economic conditions while growing up in Washington County inspired her passion for representing her neighbors in need. By volunteering for organizations that promote environmental, immigration, housing, and reproductive justice issues, Christina has proven her dedication to making her community a better place time and again. We can depend on her to help move Washington County forward.

Kathryn Harrington


McLeod-Skinner best choice for secretary of state

Oregon needs a great secretary of state. The most qualified candidate by every measure is Jamie McLeod-Skinner. Why? The best leaders are those who have done the work at every level before becoming a manager.

Jamie has on the ground experience working in the multiple areas that secretary of state directly oversees. Besides elections, these include auditing state expenditures, preserving our environment and strengthening our communities through effective management of natural resources, water, agricultural lands and forests affecting Native American tribes, farmers, and our statewide economy, and ensuring ethical, equitable treatment of all Oregonians including immigrants and refugees.

As a civil engineer, regional planner, Oregon Bar Association attorney, union member and mediator, Jamie is a natural communicator who knows how to find common ground. In 2018, she gave Greg Walden a run for his money logging 40,000 miles to listen to voters throughout rural Oregon and offer them a progressive voice in Congress.

Visit to hear from her directly and read her priorities. Please join me in Voting Jamie McLeod-Skinner for Oregon's secretary of state.

Kristan Aspen

Southeast Portland

Bernard, Humberston are a potent combination

The housing shortage is a critical problem throughout Clackamas County, and returning veterans have been hit particularly hard by this situation, all too often running into impenetrable bureaucratic roadblocks.

When one considers the contributions veterans have made to bolstering the security of this nation, often at great personal risk, this is totally unacceptable. This is one reason why I am proud to support the efforts of Clackamas County Commission Chair, Jim Bernard.

Through tireless effort, Jim has created Veterans Village. This facility has helped 19 veterans transition from homelessness to permanent housing. Furthermore, he partnered with Northwest Housing Alternatives to build permanent supportive housing in Oregon City.

Jim has a valuable ally in implementing these goals, namely Ken Humberston, another distinguished board member who shares Jim's vision.

The pair make for a potent combination. Let's make sure both of these fine men are retained on the Clackamas County Commission. We need them now more than ever.

Karen Trandum


Portland can come back smarter from pandemic

The COVID-19 crisis has rapidly transformed Portland from bustling to hunkered-down. With so much uncertainty about how our region can recover, we are all grasping for glimmers of hope. One such hope to contemplate this Earth Week is that we can take this opportunity to return to economic growth in a smarter, cleaner way.

Urban dwellers worldwide have noted improved air quality. Portland is no exception — our air is cleaner today than a month ago. While the cause is terrible, we can take note of what this shows us is possible when you take thousands of cars off the roads. Can we use this as motivation to reimagine our transit infrastructure to make cars less necessary for everyone, to reap these air quality benefits into the future, long after we return to bustling?

Instead of widening freeways, we should radically expand public transit. Beyond the cleaner air that we see now is possible, this would also better connect vulnerable communities and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions: a winning combination.

Our Metro regional government is the natural venue to tackle this transformation. Mary Peveto, a candidate for District 5, could lead the way. With a successful record as a coalition builder and community air quality activist, Peveto understands the pressing need for more just infrastructure and the benefits this could bring for the air we all breathe.

In these scary times, let's take the opportunity to build a smarter, cleaner future for the region.

Julie Fry

Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Studies

Reed College

Southwest Portland

Schmidt has innovative views on justice

I am a 44-year old Multnomah County resident who has missed one local election since 1996. I have voted for countless school board members, legislators, city councilors, governors, presidents and even judges.

The one race I have never had a choice on? District attorney. For beyond my adult lifetime, and beyond, there was someone named Shrunk as the Multnomah County DA or the person he hand-picked to replace him. This year is different and there is a real race. With a real, stark choice between candidates.

Last year I saw a blurb about a candidate, Mike Schmidt, who pledged to not seek the death penalty if elected into this role. That immediately drew my interest. When after a deliberative process, our government doles out the same savage penalty that a person is being tried for, as a society we are no better than the murderer we intend to punish. As a society we should not kill others. Full stop.

A former prosecutor, Mike Schmidt has led the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission in recent years, working to "improve the legitimacy, efficiency, and effectiveness of state and local criminal justice systems." Sounds like great experience to lead the office which he once worked.

Mike's innovative views on justice go far beyond simply not using the death penalty. I've seen in our state how mandatory minimum sentencing can be used by prosecutors as a bludgeon. Families lose their breadwinners for months (when the bully district attorney scares young Oregonians into plea deals) or years when they (though likely they cannot afford proper legal representation) choose to fight their fates.

I believe in justice, to be sure. Heck, I am even a former Multnomah County reserve deputy sheriff. However, mandatory sentences can outweigh the crime, tie the hands of elected judges, and give DAs far too much power. Mike is also opposed to mandatory sentencing.

Just reading about Mike's candidacy, I've learned about other aspects of criminal justice reform that I was less familiar with. As a first time candidate Mike is showing bravery in standing up for issues that may not poll as well. I am grateful he's willing to speak up for these issues that matter to marginalized Oregonians more negatively impacted by our justice system.

Mike's opponent is endorsed by those who would prefer the status quo and promises more of the same old, same old. That's no longer acceptable. I hope you will join me in an enthusiastic vote for Mike Schmidt for Multnomah County district attorney.

Jesse Cornett

Southeast Portland

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