Most people think of “primaries” as contests within the two major political parties to determine nominees for the general election, but Oregon’s May primary elections are much more than that!

Our May elections are incredibly important because they include elections for non-partisan positions that can have direct impacts on our daily lives, right here at home—and often much more so than our federal government officials.

Consider the types of things each of the following elected officials gets to decide:

District Attorneys:

The District Attorney (DA) has the responsibility to determine how crimes will be charged in our community. The DA and his or her Deputy DA’s have discretion on who will be charged, what type of crimes will be charged, and what type of plea offer will be offered to the defendant. Some crucial decision points that are under the purview of the DA are: whether certain youth offenders get charged as adults or as juveniles and whether to pursue incarceration sentences or rehabilitation programs for defendants, including those who are mentally ill or are first-time, non-violent drug offenders. We need a District Attorney who prioritizes the well-being of our community members while pursuing justice on our behalf.


Judges in our county make decisions in many types of cases, including criminal, civil, and family law cases like divorces, child custody matters, and restraining orders. They also decide how material witnesses in criminal cases will be treated and whether a person’s bail will be set so high that they can’t possibly get out of jail. Right here in Washington County, a judge made a decision that a witness who had committed no crime needed to be held in jail for THREE YEARS! Justice in our community shouldn’t hinge on a person’s social status or how well they speak English. We need judges who treat everyone in their courtroom fairly and with respect, and who make well-founded and fair decisions in all types of cases.

County Commissioners:

The County Commissioners make decisions on lots of local civic planning issues that can affect everyone living in Washington County. The Commission has the power to decide what kinds of new housing will be created within our county and where it will be located and to decide whether housing practices in our community are in line with Fair Housing regulations. They also have a lot of say about whether solutions to homelessness in Washington County are expedited or obstructed. We need a County Commission that values the needs of all our citizens equally and doesn’t prioritize business owners over workers.

Metro Councilors:

Because the Portland Metropolitan area is so interconnected across county boundaries, we also have a regional elected government: the Metro Council. Metro Councilors provide planning for the issues that cross county borders, like transportation and housing that meets the needs of low- and high-income residents alike. As our population grows, we need our housing and transportation options to keep pace. We need a Metro Council that will keep our whole region moving and growing in sustainable ways.

Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) Commissioner:

The BOLI Commissioner oversees enforcement of Oregon’s workplace rights laws, as well as civil rights and housing discrimination laws. The BOLI office has worked to protect the rights of gay couples and children who are victims of sex trafficking. We need a BOLI Commissioner who will ensure that workers are protected on the job and that Oregonians’ civil rights are enforced.

If these elected officials have so much say over our housing, our justice, our public transportation, and more… shouldn’t we all have a say in who fills these seats?

Your vote matters! Make sure to vote in the May Primary Election!