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Stories about Oregon

Wheeler, Iannarone face off in Portland, Oregon, mayoral election

Image of City Hall in Portland, Oregon.

Incumbent Ted Wheeler and Sarah Iannarone are running for mayor of Portland, Oregon on November 3. Teressa Raiford is a write-in candidate.

Nineteen candidates ran in the May 19 primary. Wheeler received 49.1%—short of the majority needed to win the election outright. Iannarone received 24%, and Raiford received 8.5%. As the top two vote-getters, Wheeler and Iannarone advanced to the general election.

Wheeler says he has led on police reform and the city’s COVID-19 response. He says the city needs continued leadership to get through these challenges. Iannarone says Wheeler hasn’t shown leadership and describes herself as the progressive alternative.

Wheeler has support from United for Portland, a group that formed in October and includes the Services Employees International Union, the Portland Business Alliance, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, and the Portland NAACP. Iannarone’s endorsers include Our Revolution and the Oregon Progressive Party.

Before being elected mayor, Wheeler served as Oregon’s Democratic state treasurer from 2010 to 2017. Iannarone is an urban policy consultant and has served on several City of Portland committees. 

The mayoral race is nonpartisan. As of October 2020, 63 mayors in the largest 100 cities by population are affiliated with the Democratic Party, 29 are affiliated with the Republican Party, three are independents, and five identify as nonpartisan or unaffiliated. While most mayoral elections in the 100 largest cities are nonpartisan, most officeholders are affiliated with a political party. 

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Oregon, Washington, D.C. to vote on ballot measures that address psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms

In November, Oregon could be the first state to approve a ballot initiative, Measure 109, that legalizes psilocybin. Washington, D.C., is also voting on a measure related to psilocybin and other entheogenic plants and fungi.

Currently, psilocybin, which is derived from certain species of fungi, is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. 

In Oregon, Measure 109 would create a program for administering psilocybin, such as psilocybin-producing mushrooms and fungi, to individuals aged 21 years or older. People would be allowed to purchase, possess, and consume psilocybin at a psilocybin service center and under the supervision of a psilocybin service facilitator after undergoing a preparation session.

Measure 109 faces opposition from a Portland-based group that seeks to decriminalize psilocybin. Zave Forster of Decriminalize Nature Portland stated, “We are concerned about the implications of an elite group of beneficiaries putting a free medicine that grows naturally out of the ground behind a paywall.”

Washington, D.C. is voting on a ballot measure, Initiative 81, to declare that police shall treat the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of entheogenic plants and fungi among the lowest law enforcement priorities. Initiative 81 would define entheogenic plants and fungi as species of plants and fungi that contain ibogaine, dimethyltryptamine, mescaline, psilocybin, or psilocyn. 

Denver, Colorado, was the first local jurisdiction to vote on, and approve, a ballot measure to declare that the adult use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms were of the city’s lowest law enforcement priorities. In California, the Oakland City Council and Santa Cruz City Council passed resolutions to de-prioritize law enforcement actions against entheogenic plants. Most recently, Ann Arbor, Michigan, became the fourth jurisdiction to declare entheogenic plants to be considered the city’s lowest law enforcement priorities.

Both Oregon Measure 109 and D.C. Initiative 81 share a common top funder—the New Approach PAC. The organization is based in Washington, D.C., and supported marijuana legalization measures in previous election cycles. Between 2014 and 2018, New Approach contributed at least $6.9 million to campaigns supporting recreational or medical marijuana measures. Tax filings from prior years show that New Approach received funding from the Van Ameringen Foundation and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. In both Oregon and D.C., no political action committees were organized to oppose the measures.

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Mayoral recall election to be held in Oregon City, Oregon

A recall election is taking place on November 10 against Mayor Dan Holladay in Oregon City, Oregon. Recall organizers started the effort to recall Holladay in June after he made social media posts about police violence.

Holladay also faced criticism in April for planning to go against the stay-at-home orders issued by Governor Kate Brown in response to the coronavirus pandemic by allowing businesses in Oregon City to reopen.

Recall organizers had until September 21 to submit 2,400 valid signatures to put the recall election on the ballot. Signatures were submitted in two batches, and the total came to 3,451 signatures. On October 1, City Recorder Kattie Riggs announced that 3,037 signatures had been verified. Holladay was then given the opportunity to resign or to submit a statement of justification by October 6. Holladay submitted a statement of justification, which read:

“STAND WITH DAN — NO RECKLESS RECALL

“SERVING YOU: I’ve served as your Oregon City Mayor and Commissioner one decade with YOU THE CITIZEN as my boss. OUR DIVERSE COMMUNITY AND RESIDENTS COME FIRST.

“SIX YEARS OF CITIZEN SUCCESS: NEW LIBRARY, POLICE AND COURTS FACILITY and VOTE NO ON RECALL and we will continue my leadership for new public works facility.

“PUBLIC SAFETY. I will always stand with our excellent police officers.

“KEEP OC WORKING: Oregon City has TOP RATED ROADS: Under me as your Mayor we have delivered the best services.

“KEEP OC ON BUDGET: We’ve won awards for our financial budgeting and audits annually.

“WE WON: Great American Main Street award in 2018(the only city in Oregon to have won this award.)

“RELATIONSHIPS FOR OC SUCCESS: I have built strong relationships with the local, county, state leaders.

“RULE OF LAW: I will always stand up for the rule of law and equal treatment for ALL citizens.

“FREE CITIZENS: We all have rights to believe and say what we believe and not be ridiculed, canceled or recalled for fighting for our citizens first.

“HELP ME HELP YOU KEEP OREGON CITY A GREAT PLACE:

“VOTE No on the RECKLESS RECALL”

On June 22, Adam Marl, the campaign manager for the Committee to Recall Dan Holladay, issued a statement on the recall effort. His statement read: “The mayor’s dismissive responses to current events have put the spotlight on his past actions in office that have not received the scrutiny they deserve. When the citizens voiced their concerns, he deliberately limited constructive dialogue between his colleagues and constituents. Since then, issues of corrupt business dealings and multi-million dollar lawsuits have come to light, which prompted his fellow commissioners to censure him on two counts and order an independent investigation. Mayor Holladay has lost the faith of the city that he is attempting to lead, with even his fellow commissioners calling for his resignation. His refusal to resign for the good of the city has prompted this nonpartisan grassroots campaign to lead the concerted efforts of those who believe in a better future for Oregon City. We will fight with resolve, and will fight to win.”

The number of valid signatures required to force a recall election in Oregon is 15% of the total number of votes cast in the public officer’s electoral district for all candidates for governor at the last election at which a candidate for governor was elected to a full term. Signatures are required to be turned in no later than 90 days after the petition is filed.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and a 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Mark Zuckerberg donated $500,000 to campaign supporting Oregon Measure 110, the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative 

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), Mark Zuckerberg’s public advocacy fund, donated $500,000 to More Treatment for a Better Oregon: Yes on 110, the campaign sponsoring Measure 110.

Oregon Measure 110 would make personal non-commercial possession of a controlled substance no more than a Class E violation (max fine of $100 fine) and establish a drug addiction treatment and recovery program funded in part by the state’s marijuana tax revenue and state prison savings.

The initiative is the first ballot measure Zuckerberg has contributed to in Oregon. In 2020, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative contributed $6.3 million to support California Proposition 15, which would require commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on market value. CZI also contributed $1 million to the No on Proposition 20 campaign. California Proposition 20 would make changes to policies related to criminal sentencing charges, prison release, and DNA collection.

More Treatment for a Better Oregon reported $2 million in contributions according to the latest campaign finance reports filed on October 5.

There were three other committees registered in support of the measure—IP 44, A More Humane Approach – Yes on 110 Committee, and Washington County Justice Initiative PAC. Together, they reported $2.5 million in contributions. Drug Policy Action, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that has funded marijuana legalization and drug decriminalization efforts in other states, contributed $3.4 million to the campaigns supporting the initiative.

Theshia Naidoo, the managing director of criminal justice law and policy at Drug Policy Action, said, “Oregonians have always been early adopters of drug policies that shift the emphasis towards health and away from punishment. The idea behind this groundbreaking effort is simple: people suffering from addiction need help, not criminal punishments. Instead of arresting and jailing people for using drugs, the measure would fund a range of services to help people get their lives back on track.”

The opposition campaign, No on Measure 110, reported over $55,000 in contributions. Oregon Council for Behavioral Health recently came out in opposition to the measure. They argued, “The measure provides no new funding, destroys pathways to treatment and recovery, and fails to address racial injustice in our systems by decriminalizing a narrow set of charges without resource for larger system innovation. … OCBH supports the supporters’ goal of correcting inherent injustice and decriminalizing drug charges, but this measure falls short of addressing the wide-ranging impacts on access to treatment and recovery.”

The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission estimated that Oregon spent $472 million on substance abuse treatment services and $1.95 billion on corrections from 2017 to 2019.

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Signatures submitted for mayoral recall in Oregon City, Oregon

A recall effort has been underway since June 2020 in Oregon City, Oregon, to recall Mayor Dan Holladay over restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. Recall organizers had until September 21 to submit 2,400 valid signatures to put the recall election on the ballot. They submitted signatures in two batches, with the total number coming to 3,451.

City Recorder Kattie Riggs said the signature verification process would be complete by October 1. If enough signatures are verified, the recall election would likely take place on November 10. If voters remove Holladay from office, a special election would take place in March 2021 to fill the seat.

On June 22, Adam Marl, the campaign manager for the Committee to Recall Dan Holladay, issued the following statement on the recall effort: “The mayor’s dismissive responses to current events have put the spotlight on his past actions in office that have not received the scrutiny they deserve. When the citizens voiced their concerns, he deliberately limited constructive dialogue between his colleagues and constituents. Since then, issues of corrupt business dealings and multi-million dollar lawsuits have come to light, which prompted his fellow commissioners to censure him on two counts and order an independent investigation. Mayor Holladay has lost the faith of the city that he is attempting to lead, with even his fellow commissioners calling for his resignation. His refusal to resign for the good of the city has prompted this nonpartisan grassroots campaign to lead the concerted efforts of those who believe in a better future for Oregon City. We will fight with resolve, and will fight to win.”

The number of valid signatures required to force a recall election in Oregon is 15% of the total number of votes cast in the public officer’s electoral district for all candidates for governor at the last election at which a candidate for governor was elected to a full term. Signatures are required to be turned in no later than 90 days after the petition is filed.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Recall petition filed against Seattle City Councilwoman Sawant

On August 18, a formal recall petition was filed with the King County Elections Office against Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant. Sawant was first elected to the council to represent District 3 in 2013, when she defeated then-incumbent Richard Conlin by 3,151 votes. She won re-election to the seat in 2019.

The recall petition was filed by District 3 resident Ernest “Ernie” Lou on behalf of the Recall City of Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant Committee. The Washington Constitution requires that recall petitioners establish grounds for a recall, specifically that the targeted public official has engaged in the “commission of some act or acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office, or who has violated his oath of office.” Lou’s petition alleges six specific grounds against Kshama, including: relinquishing the authority of her office; misusing city resources; misusing her official position; using her council position to encourage rally protestors to illegally occupy city property; using her position to lead a march to the Seattle mayor’s private residence; and creating a criminal toxic environment around the Capitol Hill Occupation Protest (CHOP) Zone. At the time of publication, Sawant had not responded to the allegations.

The King County Elections Office must turn over the petition to the King County Prosecuting Attorney Office for review. A judge will then decide if the allegations meet the constitutional standard for a recall. If at least one of the allegations is deemed to meet the standard, the petition will move to the signature-gathering phase, and petitioners will be required to collect signatures from over 10,700 registered voters, equal to 25% of the total votes cast in the last District 3 election.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Oregon Secretary of State verifies 59,000 signatures for redistricting initiative; courts to decide if it’s enough to qualify

On July 30, 2020, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office announced that People Not Politicians, the campaign behind the Independent State and Congressional Redistricting Commission Initiative, had submitted 59,493 valid signatures. People Not Politicians submitted its first batch of 64,172 unverified signatures on July 13. The campaign submitted an additional 1,819 signatures on July 17 and 1,063 signatures on July 24 for a total of 67,054 unverified signatures. The signature validity rate for the petition was 88.7%.

A federal judge ruled on July 10 that Secretary of State Bev Clarno (R) had to place the measure on the ballot or lower the threshold to 58,789 signatures and extend the signature deadline to August 17. The reduced number of signatures of 58,789 is equal to the required amount for 2018 veto referendum petitions. The original deadline was July 2, and the required number of signatures was 149,360 valid signatures.

People Not Politicians filed the lawsuit against the state seeking relief from the signature deadline and requirements on June 30. The state appealed the federal court’s decision allowing the campaign to submit signatures after the original deadline. On July 23, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Oregon’s request for an emergency stay on the lower court’s ruling.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) filed an emergency stay with the U.S. Supreme Court on July 29 that has not been decided yet. A panel of the 9th Circuit Court is expected to hear oral arguments for the lawsuit on August 13. It will also be hearing oral arguments for a similar initiative lawsuit in Idaho on the same day. Reclaim Idaho, the sponsors of the Idaho Income Tax Increases for Education Funding Initiative, filed the lawsuit back in June and a federal judge allowed the campaign to gather electronic signatures and have extra time to gather signatures. On July 30, the Supreme Court granted an emergency stay on the judge’s order.

The Oregon initiative would amend the Oregon Constitution to establish a 12-member redistricting commission. If the initiative qualifies for the ballot, it will be the third initiative appearing on the November ballot in Oregon. The Oregon Secretary of State certified the Psilocybin Program Initiative and the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative for the ballot after both met the original July 2 deadline and submitted more than the required number of valid signatures (112,020).

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Oregon voters will decide on Psilocybin Program Initiative in November

The Oregon Secretary of State certified the Psilocybin Program Initiative for the November ballot after completing the signature verification process on July 8. The secretary of state verified that 132,465 of the 160,963 signatures submitted were valid. The signature validity rate was 82.3 percent.

The initiative establishes the Oregon Psilocybin Services Program under the Oregon Health Authority. The program would permit licensed service providers to administer a psilocybin product to pre-screened individuals 21 years of age or older through a process that consists of preparation, administration, and integration sessions. The initiative requires a two-year development period for the Oregon Health Authority to adopt regulations for psilocybin services and licensing. It also requires that an advisory board appointed by the governor be established to advise the Oregon Health Authority.

The Oregon Psilocybin Society (OPS) is leading the Yes on IP 34 campaign. As of the last campaign finance deadline on June 5, the campaign had received $1.2 million in contributions. New Approach PAC, a nonprofit that has endorsed and financially supported marijuana ballot measures, contributed $1 million.

Yes on IP 34 previously announced on May 4 that they would coordinate their campaign efforts to gather signatures with the Yes on IP 44 initiative that was certified for the ballot on June 30.

Yes on IP 44 is sponsoring the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative that would reclassify personal possession drug offenses from misdemeanors to violations with a maximum penalty of a $100 fine or a completed health assessment. It would also establish a drug addiction treatment and recovery program.

Two legislative referrals will also appear on the November ballot that concern campaign finance and tobacco taxes.

In 2019, 50.64 percent of Denver voters approved Initiated Ordinance 301, the Psilocybin Mushroom Initiative. The measure made the adult possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms the lowest law enforcement priority in Denver and prohibited the city from spending resources on enforcing related penalties.

Decriminalize Nature D.C., the campaign behind a similar initiative in Washington, D.C., filed 36,249 signatures with the D.C. Board of Elections. The campaign needs 24,836 valid signatures with a certain number from at least five of eight wards to qualify its initiative for the ballot.

A total of 183 measures appeared on statewide ballots in Oregon from 1995 to 2018. Of the total, 47.54 percent were approved.

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Oregon Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative will appear on ballots in November

On June 30, 2020, the Oregon Secretary of State completed the signature verification process for the Oregon Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative and officially certified the initiated state statute for the ballot. Yes on IP 44 is sponsoring the initiative and submitted 156,009 raw signatures. The state verified that 116,622 signatures or 74.75% of signatures submitted were valid.

In Oregon, the number of signatures required to qualify an initiated state statute for the ballot is equal to 6 percent of the votes cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election. For 2020 initiatives, the required number of signatures was 112,020. Oregon is one of six states that use random sampling to verify signatures.

The Oregon Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative would reclassify certain drug offenses. Possession of a controlled substance in Schedule I-IV would be reclassified from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E violation. The initiative would also establish a drug addiction treatment and recovery program funded by the state’s marijuana tax revenue.

The measure would give authority to the Director of the Oregon Health Authority to establish the Oversight and Accountability Council, which would give grants to the government or community-run organizations to create Addiction Recovery Centers. The centers would offer immediate assistance at any hour of the day, health assessments, intervention plans, peer support, and mobile or virtual outreach to clients. The measure would also establish the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund that would receive 20 percent of the funds in the Oregon Marijuana Account every quarter.

In the campaign’s press release announcing the certification, Janie Gullickson, chief petitioner and the executive director of the Mental Health and Addiction Association of Oregon, said, “This initiative will save lives, and we urgently need it right now because the pandemic has exacerbated Oregon’s addiction epidemic.”

Yes on IP 44 previously announced on May 4 that they would be coordinating their campaign efforts to gather signatures with the Yes on IP 34 campaign that is sponsoring the Oregon Psilocybin Program Initiative to ensure the campaigns reached their signature goals. As of June 23, Yes on IP 34 had submitted 106,908 valid signatures of the 112,020 needed. The deadline to submit signatures was July 2.

Citizens of Oregon have the powers of initiated state statute, initiated constitutional amendment, and veto referendum. The Oregon State Legislature may also place measures on the ballot as legislatively referred constitutional amendments or legislatively referred state statutes with a majority vote of each chamber.

The Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative was the first citizen initiative to qualify for the 2020 ballot. The legislature referred two measures to the 2020 ballot.

Between 1995 and 2018, about 45% (74 of 164) of the total number of measures that appeared on statewide ballots during even-numbered years were approved, and about 55% (90 of 164) were defeated.

Additional reading:
https://ballotpedia.org/Oregon_2020_ballot_measureshttps://ballotpedia.org/Oregon_Drug_Decriminalization_and_Addiction_Treatment_Initiative_(2020)
https://ballotpedia.org/Oregon_Psilocybin_Program_Initiative_(2020)



Dexter appointed to Oregon House of Representatives

The county commissioners of Washington and Multnomah Counties appointed Maxine Dexter (D) to the Oregon House of Representatives on June 12. Dexter succeeds the late Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D), who died May 15.

Dexter represents District 33 in the state House, a position for which she is already running. She won the Democratic primary on May 19 with 39.6% of the vote. Dexter will face Dick Courter (R), who was unopposed in the Republican primary, in the Nov. 3 general election. The unexpired portion of Greenlick’s term ends on January 10, 2021.

All 60 seats in the Oregon House of Representatives are up for election in 2020. Democrats currently hold a 38-22 majority in the state House and an 18-12 majority in the state Senate.

Going into the 2020 state legislative elections, Oregon is one of 15 Democratic state government trifectas. A state government trifecta describes when one party holds the governor’s office and a majority in both chambers of the state legislature. There are currently 21 Republican state government trifectas and 14 divided governments.

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