I just finished a great book, "Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire."
Now, fantasies come in different shades of unbelievability. The Salem Bridge Solutions fantasy reflected in a comment left by one of their leaders, Mike Evans, isn't totally fantastical, but in talking trash about a No 3rd Bridge proclamation of "Our Work is Done," it also isn't highly realistic.
A recent post on the Salem Bridge Solutions page points to what I mean.
Five positions on the nine-member City Council will be on the May 2018 ballot (whoever gets a majority of votes in the May primary election wins outright, no November vote needed): the Mayor and the four even-numbered council seats.
Mayor Chuck Bennett
Tom Andersen, Ward 2 councilor
Steve McCoid, Ward 4 councilor
Chris Hoy, Ward 6 councilor
Jim Lewis, Ward 8 councilor
Now, Salem Bridge Solutions is helping to obtain signatures for Bennett and Lewis so they can get on the May ballot. But they're incumbents who already support a Third Bridge (a.k.a. Salem River Crossing). So no flipping here. McCoid also is a Third Bridge supporter, so no flipping there either.
That leaves Andersen and Hoy as flip-candidates.
Since each won his City Council seat after stating that he was opposed to spending half a billion dollars on a Third Bridge, preferring more immediate and lower cost options for relieving rush hour congestion on the current two bridges, it's difficult to see how someone backed by Salem Bridge Solutions could defeat either Andersen or Hoy -- two popular incumbents.
Further, Third Bridge supporter Lewis will have to beat a strong challenger, Micki Varney. Varney also supports building a new bridge, but is emphasizing the above-mentioned lower cost options as a more practical immediate step.
Here's an excerpt from a recent Statesman Journal story, "Salem City Council's makeup could change with 2018 election."
Both West Salem council candidates agree a new bridge across the Willamette River is needed to help cut traffic congestion.
Lewis has long supported building the bridge, although the effort stalled earlier this year after the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals rejected a set of land-use decisions by the council that was needed to move the proposal forward.
But Varney says she supports its construction, but points to other traffic-congestion remedies that could be put in play sooner, such as modifying entrances and exits to the Marion and Center street bridges.
"That's really where the congestion occurs," she said. "Once you get up on the bridge, you're actually moving. So addressing those areas is really, really key."
She says staggering state workers' hours is another viable solution. "There are certain positions in state offices where you don't have to be there from 8 to 5," she said.
So Varney could be the newcomer who promises to relieve the rush-hour congestion between West and East Salem that Lewis has been unable to make a dent in during his time on the City Council. If she were to beat Lewis, this would be pretty much an anti-flip for the Salem Bridge Solutions folks.
Another anti-flip possibility is the Ward 3 City Council seat held by Brad Nanke. The same Statesman Journal story says that Nanke will be running for an open seat on the Marion County Board of Commissioners currently held by Janet Carlson, who isn't seeking re-election.
If voters elect him in May, Nanke would have to vacate his seat on the Salem City Council without finishing the four-year term he began at the start of this year. That would open his seat to a fresh face.
Since Nanke's east Salem ward voted for Clinton over Trump by seven points in the 2016 presidential election, if Nanke becomes a Marion County commissioner his City Council seat could be won by a progressive candidate who opposes a Third Bridge.
Look: anything is possible in politics.
But it sure looks like the chances are considerably greater that the current 5-4 City Council majority opposed to a Third Bridge, and favoring other options to reduce rush-hour congestion will grow, not shrink, in 2018.
Sorry, Salem Bridge Solutions, but that's the way the political cookie is crumbling at the moment.
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