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Fortunately, there is plenty of good information available on all these contests

It's become an unhappy tradition, marked every other fall, to declare that the current election is one of the most negative in recent memory.

Sadly, 2018 proved no exception in Oregon.

Watching the television commercials you'd think Gov. Kate Brown crafts her child welfare policies from a gingerbread house and Knute Buehler takes his political advice from Donald Trump.

This election is not, and should not, be a referendum on dysfunctional dramas playing out on the Potomac. It is a chance to shape the policies and choose the policymakers who will help lead our communities and states for years to come.

Fortunately, there is plenty of good information available on all these contests. To begin with, here's a recap of Pamplin Media Group's endorsements.

Governor:

Knute Buehler

The governor's race features two capable politicians who differ on significant issues and leadership style. Gov. Brown, who stepped into the job during a political crisis, has done an admirable job, but struggled to force her fellow Democrats (who control both legislative chambers) to make tough decisions on education funding, pension reform and tax reform. Our nod goes to Rep. Knute Buehler, a social moderate who has the potential to find the elusive middle ground in the sharply-partisan statehouse.

Measure 102

Allows local governments to leverage bond money for affordable housing

YES

This measure, referred to the ballot by state lawmakers, may seem like a simple housekeeping measure, but it's actually very important. Oregon's constitution requires general obligation bonds to be used directly to pay for capital projects. This makes sense when you need a new road or school, but not housing. This measure would allow local governments to more easily and efficiently partner with nonprofits and developers to stretch tax dollars used for much-needed affordable housing throughout the state.

Measure 103

Bans future taxes on food and food-related industries

NO

If you want proof of the downside of Oregon's easy access to the ballot, this measure is Exhibit A. Masquerading as a means to protect consumers from a phantom sales tax on groceries, this is actually a special-interest ploy to pre-empt another gross-receipts tax from reaching the food industry. We opposed the last gross-receipts tax and would certainly resist any effort to tax food, but we don't believe in changing the constitution to protect a specific industry.

Measure 104

Requires 3/5 vote to raise fees

NO

Here's another example of a solution in search of a problem. Oregon's constitution already requires a 3/5 vote in the state legislature to raise taxes. This measure purports to protect Oregonians from sneaky end-runs around that law by classifying taxes as fees. There are no examples of this actually happening, and this law would give lobbyists extra leverage while needlessly bogging down legislative sessions every time an agency needs to adjust fees for everything from fishing licenses to health care accreditations.

Measure 105

Repeals Oregon's Sanctuary Law

NO

Oregon was one of the first states in the nation to pass a law ensuring that state and local police agencies stay out of the immigration enforcement business. The 1987 legislation was in response to disturbing cases of local police forces engaging in racial profiling of non-white individuals. No one, including the police chiefs and sheriffs in Oregon's largest cities and counties, wants to go back to those days.

***

While we did not conduct any local endorsements this year, we've provided questionnaires and articles on various candidates running for mayor, councilor, county commissioner and state representative. We've also provided information on the Woodburn Fire District's proposed levy.

Perhaps the most exciting race we've been watching is for Woodburn mayor. Both longtime City Councilor Frank Lonergan and former educator Eric Swenson are passionate about Woodburn, and it shows. Unlike the statewide political scene, Lonergan and Swenson have run very civil and respectful campaigns, focusing on what they love about Woodburn and where they envision Woodburn to be in the future. Lonergan has been civically engaged in Woodburn for 40 years, thus bringing an invaluable wealth of institutional knowledge and a proven long-term commitment. Swenson has been active in multiple community organizations, and he'd bring a unique energy to City Hall, if elected. It's a tough decision, so we encourage you to check out their answers to our questionnaires in the Sept. 19 edition, read their statements in the voter's pamphlet and check out their campaign Facebook pages. We know the future of Woodburn is in good hands, whoever the winner.

So before you vote, grab your voter's pamphlet, pick up past editions of the newspaper and log on to news sites. Get to know your candidates and your ballot measures, so that you can make an informed decision leading up to Election Day.

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