Union-backed candidates, measures do well in May primary

Candidates and ballot measures endorsed by the Northwest Oregon Labor Council (NOLC) did well in the May 21 special election.

Measure 26-152, a regional property tax initiative to pay for parks owned by Metro, passed 148,542 (54.2 percent) to 124,830. The labor-endorsed measure was widely supported in Multnomah County, but it drew more opposition than support in Clackamas and Washington counties. Homeowners in those three counties will pay 9.6 cents per $1,000 of their home’s assessed value to generate $50 million over five years  to fight invasive species, limit erosion and build trails on about 13,000 acres of open spaces bought by Metro using money from previously approved bond measures.

In Clackamas County, voters in Oregon City narrowly passed Measure 3-423, amending the City Charter to eliminate an automatic rollback of water rates to near 1994 levels. Had the rate setback gone into effect in 2014 it would have decreased water revenue by approximately 27 percent,  resulting in significant changes to the City’s water system operations and maintenance programs. The vote was 2,343 (51.8 percent) in favor of amending the city charter, to 2,183 (48.2 percent) against.

NOLC-endorsed candidates Larry Sowa, Kenneth Humberston, and Hugh Kalani were elected to full terms on the five-member volunteer Clackamas River Water board of directors.  All three were appointed by the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners in November, following a successful union-led recall of board member Patricia Holloway in March. Humberston defeated Grafton Sterling, with 68.9 percent of the votes.  Sterling, who was an ally of Holloway,  already holds a seat on the board, so he retains that seat. [An effort to recall Sterling at the same time as Holloway failed due to a clerical error that disqualified the petition.] Kalani outpolled Warren Mitchell, a former Clackamas River Water board member who was ousted by voters in 2009. Mitchell is an ally of Holloway and Sterling. Sowa ran unopposed.

In the North Clackamas School District, Vivian Scott was re-elected to a third term on the school board, capturing  62.6 percent of the vote against one challenger.

In Washington County, labor-endorsed Jaime Rodriguez, a member of the Portland Community College Federation of Faculty and Academic Professionals Local 2277, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), lost his bid for a seat on the Hillsboro School District board of directors. Rodriguez was a graduate of the first class (2012) of the Oregon Labor Candidates School, which helps prepare rank-and-file union members to run for political office.

Several graduates of Oregon Labor Candidates School were elected to office May 21. They include:

  • Francisco (Frank) Acosta, a member of Portland Federation of School Professional Local 111 was elected to the Multnomah Education Service District Board.
  • Erick Flores, a member of the Oregon Education Association, defeated two other candidates for an open seat on the Parkrose School Board.
  • Sam Aley, a member of the Oregon Education Association, was elected to the Coos Bay School District board of directors.
  • Austin Folnagy of Service Employees International Union Local 503 was elected to the Klamath Falls Community College board of directors.
  • Nancy MacMorris-Adix, a member of the Oregon Nurses Association, and Paul Kyllo, a former member of the Oregon Education Assocation, were elected to the Salem-Keizer School District board of directors.

Two other graduates of the Oregon Labor Candidates School lost their elections. Trish Stephens of the Oregon School Employees Association lost her race for Amity School District board of directors, and IBEW office secretary Nicole Milam finished third in a three-person race for the Medford School District board of directors.

A Portland City Council initiative — Measure 26-151 — to fluoridate Portland’s water supply, was rejected by voters 60 percent to 40 percent. The measure had support from several unions, including United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)  Local 555, the Oregon Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals Local 5017; the Oregon Nurses Association; and Service Employees International Union locals 49 and 503. It was not endorsed by NOLC.

In other election results:

  • Chris Groener, a union rep for UFCW Local 555, was re-elected to the Clackamas Community College board of directors. He ran unopposed.
  • Barbara Carter, a former president of the Oregon School Employees Association, McMinnville Chapter 90, was elected to the McMinnville School Board. She won with 55 percent of the vote in a three-way race for Position 2.

Voter turnout reached 41 percent in Multnomah County, 30 percent in Washington County, and 28 percent in Clackamas County.

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