WashCoDems: Critical Endorsement Updates
By Martita Meier, 1st Vice-Chair of the Washington County Democrats
During every campaign cycle, the Washington County Democrats form an ad hoc Endorsements Committee to review and interview the candidates who are running in non-partisan, local races. The committee then sends their recommendations to our Central Committee.
The Central Committee reviews the recommendations and votes to endorse the candidates that best align with our progressive Democratic values.
First and foremost, thank you to our May 2020 Endorsements Committee for all of their hard work! It is a huge lift in a short amount of time, and a big part of the value we provide as a local party.
This year we voted to endorse 8 candidates who are running in local races for positions in Washington County, the city of Beaverton, and Portland Metro. You can view information about all of the candidates here.
We are very excited about the endorsements we have made. All eight candidates possess the progressive values that we look to continue to grow in Washington County, Oregon. Our Neighborhood Leaders will be working to get the word out by phone, postcard, and email (as we cannot go door-to-door canvassing as we would normally do!).
There are three contests that have particular circumstances around the races themselves. As your local party, we feel these details are critical for voters to be aware of.
1) Nafisa Fai
Today the Washington County Commissioners board is comprised of five commissioners. If you are active in Washington County or local politics you definitely know our County Chair, Kathryn Harrington. Kathryn and the current board have worked very hard in the last couple of years towards forwarding the progressive values that we definitely care about as Democrats. A great example is the recent “Resolution on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” that the board passed. It really shines forth the ethics and policies that we would like to see emerge from progressive leaders.
The County Commission, District 1 seat is now an open seat, and there are three candidates running for this position. Nafisa Fai is the only candidate who is a Democrat… and absolutely the only Progressive candidate. Jeff Hindley, as can be seen in the voter pamphlet is a conservative, and calls himself as much. Manuel Castaneda, on the other hand, has been making a great effort to obfuscate his true political leanings. He has been a registered Republican for years, and only several days before he submitted to run for this position, he changed his registration to non-affiliated. When he ran for office in 2012 for seat HD-28; he ran as a Republican.
We have seen this tactic before. Some of you may know that Knute Buehler tried to run as an independent candidate against Kate Brown, but like Castaneda, he had also been a registered Republican. This is just a tactic to attempt to gain votes in a region where their views are not the views of the people. Washington County is it Progressive county, and we want Progressive candidates to be elected into the positions that matter.
Do not be fooled by Castaneda. He is not a Democrat, he is not a Progressive, and he is not going to bring forth true Progressive change in Washington County. If this seat goes to Hindley or Castaneda, the board will become a conservative board. All of the effort put forth thus far by the current County Commissioner board will come to a screeching halt.
Nafisa says: “I believe strongly that an inclusive and equitable society must be fair to all, and I will center that belief in my work as a County Commissioner. My journey to run for public office has been a long one, starting with my family’s decision to leave Somalia as refugees when I was a child. Growing up in the United States, I know personally the importance of these values, and of our government centering the experience and needs of vulnerable communities. Government can be an important force for good, standing up for regular people and ensuring that prosperity is shared across our community. I believe we have a lot of work to do for Washington County to be a place where everyone can thrive, and that is what I will prioritize as a Commissioner.”
Nafisa will add her diverse and meaningful perspective to this important seat in our local government.
2) Red Wortham
Red has a tough campaign ahead of her. When you put yourself up to run against an incumbent… it is not an easy win.
Sheriffs have a huge amount of power here in the United States. The Appeal, an original online journal about criminal justice that engages the public and holds officials to account, speaks to these details in some depth. Read more in their article: The Powers of Sherriffs: Explained.
Because the sheriff holds a lot of power in what happens in their given county, that means who is the sheriff is important. This race really came into the purview of the local Democratic Party on February 25th when the current Sheriff Pat Garrett complied with ICE; going against our Oregon state Sanctuary state laws.
“‘If ICE is not permitted to tell state or local law enforcement officers to do their bidding, then the state or local law enforcement officers at that point have a choice about whether to comply or not with the subpoena,’ Stumpf said. She said at that point sanctuary laws may prevent sheriffs from honoring ICE’s subpoenas.”
As Progressive Democrats we care about our status as a Sanctuary State. We feel is important to protect the undocumented, make sure that they have a pathway to citizenship, and are protected during these dark times with Donald Trump as our president. Subjecting the Sherriff to subpoenas is NOT proper due process. Knowing the power of the Sherriff, Garrett did not “have to” comply. To find out that the current Sheriff is actively working with ICE goes against the very core of our values.
Red is a very Progressive candidate, and we are very excited to endorse her. The Washington County Sheriff Department is an important part of our community, and Red Wortham wants to elevate the agency to the next level reflecting of Progressive values. She is a leading voice for change on matters of jail safety, criminal justice reform, and will focus on community presence. She is committed to restructure staff, reducing overtime spending while keeping uniformed deputies on patrols in our community. Today, we have only 4 mental health deputies, and 4 hours monthly scheduled for homelessness outreach. She is eager to increase these services.
Portland metro plays an important role in our region because there are things that can fall through the cracks between the counties and the cities. It is Metro’s job to help us continue to move forward in a seamless way. The Council works with community leaders and constituents across city and county boundaries to shape the future of greater Portland.
The Councilor, District 3 seat has opened up on the Metro board, and this is an opportunity to solidify the board as fully Progressive. The current occupant of the seat has been often pulled to the left because our other board members are very Progressive, but the best-case scenario was always taking someone from the right, and pulling them left.
Garrett is a lifelong Progressive and environmental activist. Adding him to the board will create a solid foundation to help Metro continue to keep our region strong and healthy, take care of the less fortunate, and keep their eye on the environment.
His strongest opponent is Tom Anderson. Tom Anderson has had a long-standing background in local politics; so we can’t say he doesn’t have “relevant experience,” but Gerritt Rosenthal is a true Progressive and brings very specific experience in land-use planning, solid waste management, and environmental protection. Gerritt has served as an environmental consultant for over 40 years throughout the Pacific Northwest. The duties of the Metro board will find his specific experience enormously valuable. His resume is literally perfect for this position.
If you want someone in this seat who really understands the needs we have in today’s environmental crisis, Gerritt is your candidate.
For the Washington County Democrats, we feel that climate change is one of our most critical and impending issues we face, and Gerritt Rosenthal can bring deep expertise to the table. Gerritt is also very passionate about issues regarding housing and homelessness and will bring compassion to the seat.
If any of our endorsed candidates excite you, please volunteer!
With the COVID-19 pandemic, these are very strange times, and it is hard for the candidates to get the word out. Normal canvassing activities have come to a halt, and it is up to us to help the candidates that inspire us. Help them by volunteering to get the word out as best we can.
Fellow Democrats, help these candidates get elected so we can continue to keep Washington County bright blue!