Well, if you believe what people in Salem need is more conservative white men on the City Council and being charged a $1.50 each way toll to cross the Willamette River between downtown and West Salem, you'll love the Statesman Journal endorsements for the two contested council races on the May election ballot.
Because the newspaper's editorial board -- which is made up solely of three Statesman Journal employees, no community members -- just endorsed the re-election of Jim Lewis and Steve McCoid to the City Council.
So the editorial board said NO to Micki Varney and Jackie Leung.
And the editorial board said YES to Lewis and McCoid.
This shows how out-of-touch the Statesman Journal is with the citizens of Salem.
The main reason the editorial board liked the two conservative white men more than the two progressive women, one of whom is a woman of color, is that Lewis and McCoid favor building a half-billion dollar Third Bridge (which would cost about a billion dollars with financing costs included).
Varney and Leung are committed to reducing rush-hour congestion, but they support what the City Council already has committed to doing: investigate and put into effect immediate ways to reduce downtown-area congestion instead of waiting a decade or more for the fantasy of a Third Bridge to possibly come to fruition.
And even if a Third Bridge was built, the official funding plan for it relies largely on a $1.50 each way toll on both the new bridge and the two existing bridges. So the editorial board effectively endorsed tolling along with endorsing Lewis and McCoid.
The editorial board failed to recognize two important truths. First, the last five city councilors who have been elected all ran on a platform of opposing the unpaid-for and unneeded Third Bridge: Tom Andersen, Cara Kaser, Sally Cook, Chris Hoy, and Matt Ausec.
So since these five city councilors represent a majority of Salem residents (five of the eight wards), this undercuts the editorial board's contention that there is broad public support for a billion dollar Third Bridge and $1.50 each way tolls.
Second, as already noted there is no source of funding for a Third Bridge.
The state legislature passed a transportation plan that prioritizes maintaining and improving existing roads and bridges, not building new ones. And the Trump administration has shown little interest in expanded infrastructure projects, aside from some talk about leveraging private investment (which means in part, tolling).
I'm hopeful that Salem voters aren't as focused on the single issue of the Third Bridge as the Statesman Journal editorial board is. It's disturbing that the board said it is endorsing Jim Lewis for re-election because he favors building the bridge -- but has been silent on how to pay for it, because he knows tolling is hugely unpopular.
And the board also endorsed McCoid largely because he favors a Third Bridge, with associated tolling. Bizarrely, the three Statesman Journal staff members said they recognize "getting a new bridge built and financed in less than a decade is iffy." So the immediate congestion relief favored by Varney and Leung is what everyone knows must happen.
The Chamber of Commerce hot line must have rung in the Statesman Journal editorial board office, because Cherril Crosby, Carol McAlice Currie, and Paul Nettland echoed the Chamber's fantasy that a billion dollar bridge can be financed almost entirely by local taxpayers, and that lower-cost ways of reducing rush-hour congestion can't achieve that end.
Bottom line: ignore the editorial board. Salem needs people with fresh ideas on the City Council, not more of the same. Vote for Micki Varney (Ward 8) and Jackie Leung (Ward 4).
UPDATE: Hooting good news via Twitter! Salem's Angry Owl likes Micki Varney, a salmon biologist, in the Ward 8 City Council race. This is way more important than the Statesman Journal editorial board's screechingly bad endorsement of her opponent.
So we need to vote for people who want to talk about solutions other than a third bridge?
Weve had years to talk about solutions. Why are they waiting to get elected to get some ideas on the board? Im not particulatly impressed with people who “are willing to discuss” but have not offered some realistic ideas to discuss.
Weve read all the comments posted. I would think if one was really realistic, more people would endorse it and make the discussion more fruitful.
Calling a realistic solution a “fantasy” doesnt seem like one is inclined to discuss.
Heres how a solution is discussed.
Identify the problem.
Pick one or more.
The problem is crossing the river.
Dont cross the river
Its easy to eliminate several of these.
So....we are left with several solutions, eh?
Posted by: James | May 01, 2018 at 09:42 PM
Maybe we should identify the CORRECT problem first.
The "problem" is crossing the river at rush hour traffic times. Due to the congestion on both sides getting on and off the bridge during that specific time of the day.
There is no problem crossing the river for thousands of people during the majority of the day.
I live in the Highland neighborhood and average probably a trip over the bridge once a day because it is FASTER to go to West Salem to run certain errands, because I don't use the bridge at rush hour times.
Posted by: Salemander | May 02, 2018 at 03:25 AM
I am a West Salem resident, and the “Preferred Alternative” is NOT a viable solution for another bridge. A study by ODOT traffic engineers clearly shows that the “Preferred Alternative” will actually INCREASE traffic congestion. That study is posted on the West Salem Neighborhood Association FB site. Why would anyone support a bridge whose construction would require closing the Rosemont exit, paying hundreds of dollars a year in tolls, destroying a portion of West Salem’s largest park, at a cost of almost a BILLION dollars (including finance charges) when it would INCREASE congestion? There has been lots of talk and planning and the result has been a fatally flawed plan. Time to get some fresh perspectives on the City Council, and those are NOT going to come from Lewis and McCoid.
Posted by: Norm Baxter | May 02, 2018 at 08:30 AM