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Get your election on!: Our endorsements go down smooth 

Prepare yourself for this year's ballots and let us guide you along the way.

click to enlarge chris-telfer.jpg
Here’s what you need to do. Sit yourself down with your ballot, smack down your best shot glass and prepare to sample what we’re offering up in the 2012 Cinco De Mayo Election Guide. From the top shelf to the it’s-gonna-hurt-in-the-morning, here’s our best bets for the 2012 primary election. Ole!

Chris Telfer for State Senate

This race is one of the most interesting around here in recent times, and your vote will be about more than which of these two candidates you prefer, but also what brand of politics we should be practicing in this country.

You have a choice between Chris Telfer, a fiscally conservative, socially moderate, willing to compromise, or at least negotiate, for the greater good and a known quantity who recently proved herself to be one of the most effective Republican legislators in the state, or Tim Knopp, an ultra-conservative, my-way-or-the-highway, dogmatic social issue hero backed by the Koch brothers and the largest good old boy network in Central Oregon.

Though the two are Republicans, there are plenty of differences in style and substance.

As we’ve watched this campaign unfold, we’ve been surprised to see Knopp’s brazen disregard for the leadership of his party (who are pissed that he’s running against such a solid incumbent) and we've been incredulous to see him spin out mostly untrue comments about Telfer’s ability to create jobs and work well with others.

The jobs thing is just dead wrong. Telfer was actually one of the only legislators during the recent short session to get bills passed that actually pave the way for businesses to come to Deschutes County. She got 465 acres of land in Redmond rezoned for industrial uses and she expanded the ability of companies to raise capital for new development.

Then there’s the rather limp claim that she doesn’t play nice with others. Yeah, we agree, Telfer can be blunt and sometimes that rubs people—especially the tea party-infused Republican leadership in Central Oregon who don’t agree with her rather neutral stances on abortion and gay marriage—the wrong way. But she’s got the support of key business and political leaders around the state who would beg to differ with the concept that she doesn’t know how to get people working together.

Local leaders like Jason Conger from Bend, and Mike McLane, from Powell Butte have thrown their weight—as light as it may be—behind Knopp. But we’d suggest you follow the money and see where it leads. Here’s a hint: check Knopp’s political action committee receipts.

What’s happening with this race doesn’t have to do with legitimate complaints about Telfer. It has to do with money, one former legislator’s ambition and the far right-wing of the Republican party’s slash-and-burn style.

If you think the legislature should be deciding things like who you can marry and how to manage your pregnancy, and you believe there are simple solutions to issues like state budget deficits and economic growth then, by all means, vote for Knopp. If you think government should focus on making Oregon a better place for everyone to live and that answers to the challenges are nuanced and best reached through cooperation and calculated compromise, then we recommend you keep Chris Telfer on the job.

Phil Henderson For Deschutes County Commission

Unlike, say planning commissioners or city budget committee members, there’s rarely a dearth of candidates for the Deschutes County Commission. We suspect that’s because of the job’s $70,000-plus annual salary, plus health care and retirement benefits. In other words, it’s a pretty good gig around these parts, if you’ve got the stomach for the marathon meetings and government minutiae.

But it’s the significant responsibility shouldered by county commissioners rather than the salary that ought to grab the attention of voters in the May primary where two Republican candidates are facing off for the right to challenge Democratic commissioner Alan Unger in November’s general election. On one hand is political newcomer, Phil Henderson, a Bend homebuilder and attorney. On the other is Tom Greene, a realtor and Bend City Council member.

Both candidates come with a strong background in private business with an eye toward growing Deschutes County’s jobs and tax base. By almost any measure they are both moderate politicians who espouse traditional pro-growth views. However, we’re giving the nod to Phil Henderson, despite Greene’s greater political experience.

We like Henderson’s diverse background that ranges from being a pioneering renewable energy entrepreneur in Hood River to his roughly two decades of work as a civil lawyer in Bend and more recently to his experience as an executive in one of Bend’s largest homebuilding firms, Sun Forest Construction. Henderson has since founded his own homebuilding business, Henderson Homes.

While the cynical among us might assume that Henderson is simply fleeing the struggling building industry for a secure public sector job (well secure at least for four years, if elected), we were convinced of Henderson’s authentic desire for public service. According to Henderson, it was an interest in politics and government that led him to Yale where he got is undergraduate degree in political science four decades ago. (He had Joe Lieberman as an instructor at one point.) And while his career path ultimately led him away from politics, we believe his renewed interest to be genuine. While he lacks some of Greene’s practical experience, we think Henderson is more than capable of getting up to speed, a task that he says he has already commenced by poring over county planning and budget documents.

To his credit, Henderson has served on the city of Bend Budget Committee—perhaps the most arduous and thankless of all local boards. He’s also been a member of the Deschutes County United Way board. Those stints may not fully prepare him for all the work of the county commission, but we think Henderson is up for the challenge and recommend that you send him to the November general election.

Ellen Rosenblum for Oregon Attorney General

It’s pretty typical for primary candidates to be rather similar and, at first blush, that’s what Ellen Rosenblum, 61, and Dwight Holton, 46, seem to be. Both candidates are highly qualified. Holton has 15 years of experience as a federal prosecutor, in New York and in Oregon. Two of those years have been spent as acting U.S. Attorney in Oregon. Rosenblum worked in private practice for five years, for eight years as a federal prosecutor, and then as a judge in Oregon for 22 years.

Each has earned endorsements from large segments of the legal community—Holton more so with sheriffs and district attorneys; Rosenblum with Oregon State Bar leadership and state icons like Dave Frohnmayer.

But more than most primary races, there are several defining issues upon which to make a judgment and we recommend you choose Rosenblum. Here’s why:

1. She knows Oregon better. Holton moved to Oregon in 2004 from Virginia where his father and brother-in-law both served as governors. Rosenblum has lived in Oregon for over 40 years, spending her entire law career here and working in courts at every level in the state.

2. Rosenblum strongly supports our medical marijuana law and says on her website she “will make marijuana enforcement a low priority.” In contrast, last fall, as U.S. Attorney for Oregon, Holton ordered raids on medical marijuana farms that appeared to be operating legally under Oregon’s medical marijuana law.

3. She’s not a fan of minimum sentencing, believing that Measure 11 has taken discretion and decision-making out of the hands of competent judges, and causing overcrowding in prisons across the state. Holton’s support for the measure is one of the reasons he’s earned such support from district attorneys and sheriffs.

4. Rosenblum would be the first female attorney general to serve the state. While this detail alone wouldn’t be grounds for our endorsement, it seals the deal for this better qualified candidate whose views are solidly in line with our own.

Andrew Balyeat for Deschutes County Circuit Court

When opening their ballots in the coming weeks, new voters might be surprised to see that they are being asked to elect a judge on the Deschutes County Circuit. If you’re one of those people, there’s no shame in your surprise. Judicial races are a relatively rare occurrence. Once elected or appointed, judges, for better or worse, tend to stick around for the long haul. That typically means death or retirement.

However, unlike other campaigns, the race for judgeships is usually given second billing to other partisan contests. (Oregon judicial candidates are not allowed to declare party affiliation.) That means judicial races are not only rare, they’re typically low-key affairs that can be hard for voters to parse.

That’s the case here in Deschutes County where there are four well-qualified candidates campaigning to succeed retiring judge Michael Sullivan on the Deschutes County Circuit Court. All four candidates have extensive trial court experience; all of them are current or former prosecutors, three of whom have also worked as defense lawyers at one time or another. The fourth and our choice in this election is Andrew Balyeat, a civil attorney and a trial lawyer who has also worked as a prosecutor.

It was not an easy decision. All four of the candidates are well qualified to serve on the bench. Speaking with them we were struck by their commitment to justice and the fair application of the law. They all shared concerns about Oregon’s mandatory minimum sentencing system and advocated for the preservation and expansion of diversionary courts that push treatment and education over incarceration—something we support for ethical and fiscal reasons.

However, it was Balyeat’s breadth of experience that ultimately convinced us he is the best choice among a field of fine candidates. As the attorney with the greatest amount of civil work on his resume, we think Balyeat can do the most to alleviate some of the gridlock in the civil system, a problem with which Balyeat is uniquely familiar.

We’re not alone in our assessment of Balyeat. Deschutes County attorneys who responded to an Oregon State Bar poll about the election voted more than 2 to 1 for Balyeat over the next closest candidate. That’s high praise and a vote worth noting when you make yours.

Alan Unger For Deschutes County Commisioner

This should be a non-race. Challenger Dallas Brown officially withdrew from the race in mid-March and officially endorsed incumbent Alan Unger, a fellow Democrat. However, Brown did not withdraw until after the deadline for voting materials had come and gone, which means he’s still on the ballot as well as in the voter’s guide. We don’t think he poses any real threat to Unger, but voters should know that only one of the candidates is still seeking the office. We see nothing in Unger’s record that leads us to believe voters should throw a wrench in the works at this point. In other words, vote for Unger.

Ron Paul For President

Yes, he’s got some crazy ideas. And no we don’t actually want him in the White House come January. But he’s also got some pretty reasonable ones, too, like pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan and avoiding war with Iran. So go ahead and send a message to your party leaders that it’s time to get back to the core Republican values of limited government and personal liberties and abandon the right wing social agenda and the corporate welfare mentality that’s consumed the modern party. America needs a Republican Party, but not the one that we see working in Washington today. Let GOP leaders know that there are plenty of fiscal and social conservatives who know what progressives have long been saying, the party of Lincoln has lost its way. Vote for Ron Paul and encourage the party to hit the reset button.

Yes on Deschutes County 911 Service District (Measure 9-85)

File this one under the no-brainer category and vote yes. Doing so will allow the county’s public safety agencies to breath easy and end the unnecessary and costly process of returning to voters every five years to renew the agency’s critical operating levy.

The levy, which is set to expire this year, provides the majority of funding for the 911 service district, which in turn providers the first line of contact between you and emergency responders when you need them the most.

In other words, this is a critical service if ever there was one.

However, state law prohibits the 911 district from asking voters to incorporate the levy into the district’s permanent tax structure. Is that crazy? Yes, of course it is.

But what matters is that voters recognize and resolve the problem by allowing the 911 system managers to form a new district with a permanent and stable stream of revenue. There’s also a short-term incentive for taxpayers to get behind the measure. The district has stockpiled some rainy day reserves to hedge against the possibility of a failed operating levy. If voters approve the new permanent district and rate, the 911 system can draw on some of those funds and has pledged to do so. That will allow the district to effectively reduce the tax rate for Deschutes County property owners.

As currently outlined, that tax reduction would last for about five years and bring the tax rate down from its current $.39 per $1,000 of assessed value to roughly $.33 per $1,000. That would effectively reduce the tax bill on a property valued at $200,000 from $78 to $66. So, let’s review: Long term stable funding for emergency services. Lower taxes for you in the short-term. Like we said—it’s a no-brainer.

Ballot Drop Locations

Save yourself the postage and drop your ballot at the following locations around Deschutes County. All ballots must be in by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15 or it's no bueno.


Deschutes Service Center Drop Box

1300 NW Wall St.

Drive- By Drop Site

Parking lot at the corner of Wall Street and Lafayette Avenue

Deschutes County Road Department Drop Box

61150 SE 27th St.


Redmond City Hall

716 SW Evergreen Ave.

Redmond Public Library Drop Site

827 SW Deschutes Ave.


Sisters City Hall

520 E Cascade Ave.


Sunriver Area Public Library

56855 Venture Ln.


Terrebonne Sheriff Substation

8154 11th St., Ste. 3

La Pine

La Pine Public Library Drop Box

16425 First St.

This is important:

You might have been sent the wrong ballot!

A little snafu out of the Deschutes County Election’s Office means if you live in Precinct 46, which is northeast Bend, you were issued an incorrect ballot. The wrong state representative race was listed. They said you could vote for a representative in the 53rd District, rather than the correct 54th District. So, they’re sending you a new ballot.

If you already mailed in your ballot, you can stop there and it just won’t count for this particular race. If you want your vote to count for this race, take the new ballot, fill out the entire thing and mail it in.

If you just do the one representative’s race and leave the rest blank, they’ll kick out everything else you voted for before and just record the one race. Basically, just look for the new ballot, fill the whole thing out again, and get it in by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Questions? Call the elections office at 541-388-6547.

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