Even though we're still six months away from the May 2022 election that typically decides City Council and Mayor races (50 percent + 1 vote and you win outright, even though the election is a "primary"), things are already getting really interesting.
The Statesman Journal has a story that describes the current state of affairs: "Salem City Council set for a shake-up in 2022. Here's who's in and who's out so far."
Tom Andersen, the Ward 2 city councilor, isn't running for re-election. He was the first progressive elected to the City Council and serves as the unofficial leader of the now six-person progressive majority on the nine-person council (eight city councilors plus the Mayor).
The Statesman Journal story says:
Councilor Tom Andersen, of Ward 2 in south-central Salem, said he will not seek re-election and will instead run as a Democrat in the primary for the newly redistricted House District 19 in the Oregon Legislature.
The seat is currently occupied by Republican Rep. Raquel Moore-Green.
House District 19 has been a stronghold of Republicans for more than two decades, but recent districting efforts have moved the more conservative areas of Turner, Aumsville and neighbors east of Salem outside city limits into other districts.
According to the new legislative maps, House District 19 is now comprised of neighbors in Andersen's Ward 2, South Salem and southeast Salem.
It'll be interesting to see who files to fill Andersen's shoes. (Which should be of the bicycle variety, since Andersen is an avid cyclist.) Ward 2 leans decidedly leftward, so this City Council seat should remain progressive.
In Ward 4, Casey Kopcho has filed to run. Jackie Leung, the Ward 4 city councilor, hasn't indicated whether she intends to seek re-election. I wouldn't be surprised if Leung doesn't seek another term. She's a progressive who doesn't strike me as being all that enthused about City Council goings-on, though I could be wrong about this.
And this statement in the Statesman Journal story sort of implies that Kopcho could be Leung's hand-picked successor, since it isn't the sort of thing someone planning to run against Leung would say.
Kopcho said he aligns with many of Leung's positions and wants to bring more accountability along with a focus on homelessness, housing availability and economic recovery to the council.
Jim Lewis, the Ward 8 city councilor, won't be running again for his West Salem seat. He's a conservative, so this would be an appealing pick-up for progressives. Micki Varney ran against Lewis in 2018 and would be a strong contender if she enters the Ward 8 race.
I suspect that Chris Hoy, a progressive, will seek re-election to his Ward 6 City Council seat. But as always is the case in politics, what's suspected often turns out otherwise.
Chuck Bennett isn't seeking another term as Mayor. He's a moderate, by and large, so a good fit for a position that is elected citywide (obviously). Salem tilts leftward, yet has a substantial number of conservative voters.
It's great that Hollie Oakes-Miller has filed to run for Mayor. She came close to beating Jose Gozalez in their 2020 Ward 5 City Council race. For some reason the progressive Salem "establishment" didn't get behind Oakes-Miller, though I did. Yet with minimal funding she did very well against Gonzalez, who is fairly conservative.
Oakes-Miller, like Bernie Sanders, doesn't shy away from using socialist to describe herself. If the Chamber of Commerce backs a conservative candidate for Mayor, debates between this person and Oakes-Miller will be hugely entertaining.