Even without looking at a calendar it's easy to tell that we're getting close to Oregon primary election day: Tuesday, May 20. That's when ballots will be counted and the results of Salem City Council races announced. Among many other races, of course.
Candidates are getting testy.
For example, Ward 2 candidate Sheronne Blasi has taken to deleting comments on her Facebook page that tell the truth about why she moved into that neighborhood.
Just a quick note to the individuals who wrote and contributed to the recent horrible blog post about me - I will remove your related comments from my Facebook page.
Well, Ms. Blasi, here's another truthful blog post you won't like. These are your own words:
I decided to run for office immediately after serving as a temporary appointee to Council in 2012, and I moved in early 2013 so I could do so.
This explains why Blasi has lived in Salem for 14 years, and in Ward 2 for one year. She moved into that neighborhood so she could be a city councilor.
Well, there are all kinds of reasons for moving. I've heard of politicians taking up residency in another area in order to better their chance of being elected, but it seems more than a little weird that someone bidding for an unpaid city council seat would do this.
Of course, Blasi isn't just running for herself.
She is backed by the Chamber of Commerce's political action committee along with the Homebuilder's Association and Realtor's Association. All that special interest money isn't given out for nothing. Naturally there's a tacit understanding: we give you money, you give us decisions we want you to make.
Like backing an unneeded $400 - $700 million third bridge that would displace dozens of homes and businesses, while hurting the viability of downtown Salem. Oh, and also saddling Salem residents with a massive tax increase -- since the chance of getting federal and state funding for this boondoggle is slim to none.
I've lived in this area a lot longer than Blasi has. I moved to Salem in 1977, so I've got 37 years of experience with this town. I'm bothered by how Salem has fallen prey to the same big-money politics evident on the national scene.
Blasi is part of this. She may or may not have a brain implant that makes her vote however the Chamber of Commerce tells her to. But being backed by special interests is known to have the same effect on a politician's mind.
Salem Weekly has a good story in the current issue about this: "Most. Contributions. Ever?" I especially liked these parts.
With only dollars to go, it appears likely that Ward 2 candidate Sheronne Blasi will also exceed $10,000 in contributions in 2014.
It is the largest field of Salem City Council candidates in 26 years, and the amount spent by contributors on these races had drawn the attention of local observers.
As of May 11, the four (Blasi, McCoid, Benjamin and Lewis) have raised $61,575.55 total. This figure accounts for over 70% of the total raised by the nine.
...For Salem attorney John Gear, the high numbers in this primary is no coincidence.
“The only real question is, why the Chamber of the 1% is digging so deep to put up such an undistinguished slate of interchangeable minions– and of course the answer is money,” he says. “The Chamber sees buying seats on the council for docile seat-warmers who will vote as they’re told as a smart investment.”
Gear believes there is “a strong and growing movement in Salem” of people opposed to “the kinds of absurd corporate welfare spending” that he says, “the Chamber loves.” He gives examples of the hundreds of millions proposed “for a huge unneeded bridge,” and the hundreds of thousands “spent to prop up the airport in a city that doesn’t even have seven-day bus service.”
If you're a Ward 2 candidate who hasn't voted yet, cast your ballot for Tom Andersen or Bradd Swank. They wouldn't be the sort of "interchangeable minions" of the Chamber of Commerce that Gear so rightly warns about (Blasi, McCoid, Benjamin, Lewis).