This is going to be an unusual year for local politics.
For the first time since I've been following political goings-on in our city, there's no incumbents running for Mayor or half of the City Council seats -- the even-numbered ones, Wards 2, 4, 6, 8.
What's obvious is that control of the City Council is at stake.
Currently progressives have a 6-3 majority. Well, actually 6-2, since Jim Lewis, the conservative Ward 8 councilor, has resigned and a temporary replacement hasn't been appointed yet.
The five seats being voted on in the May primary (which determines who wins outright if someone gets over 50% of the vote) have been held by two conservatives -- Mayor Bennett and Jim Lewis -- while three progressives decided not to seek re-election: Tom Andersen, Chris Hoy, and Jackie Leung.
Andersen and Leung are competing against each other for the Democratic nomination to a state legislature seat, House District 19.
Mayor. Chris Hoy is running for Mayor against two other candidates.
Chane Griggs appears to be the Chamber of Commerce's choice, being more conservative than Hoy and having by far the most funds raised at this point, over $60,000. Hollie Oakes-Miller is more liberal than Hoy.
So this race could go to a November run-off, likely between Griggs and Hoy. If money talks, Griggs would be the winner. But Hoy is an affable guy with city council experience in a left-leaning town, so I'm betting Hoy will end up being Salem's next Mayor.
Ward 2. Linda Nishioka is the only candidate who filed to run for Tom Andersen's city council seat. This suggests that she's a progressive like Andersen, since I deeply doubt Andersen would want his seat filled by a conservative. This race is easy to predict: Nishioka wins!
Ward 4. Deanna Gwyn is a broker with Blum Real Estate and a secretary with the Mid-Valley Association of Realtors. I'm guessing she's the conservative candidate attempting to fill progressive Jackie Leung's seat.
Dynee Medlock is endorsed by Casey Kopcho, who dropped out of this race after filing for it. Kopcho strikes me as a moderate, if not a progressive, so likely Medlock shares his political perspective.
Ward 6. Julie Hoy and Stacey Vieyra-Braendle are the candidates seeking to fill Chris Hoy's seat. I could be completely wrong about this, but it seems strange that an unrelated Hoy just happens to hope to replace Chris Hoy.
This is the sort of thing Republicans would do. So I'll indulge my conspiracy theory mind and theorize that Julie Hoy leans conservative. I know nothing about Vieyra-Braendle. If she turns out to be conservative, I wouldn't be all that surprised, but for now I'm guessing she's the more liberal candidate.
Ward 8. In the race to fill Jim Lewis's old seat, the progressive candidate clearly is Micki Varney, who lost to Lewis four years ago. Her opponent is Chris Cummings, who likely is the more conservative candidate.
Varney has to be favored, given her previous race against Lewis and a longer track record of community service in West Salem.