Yesterday I talked with Ward 6 City Council candidate Jonathan Crow over beers and a hummus plate at the Commercial Street Ventis restaurant.
Jon told me he was going to have a Jonathan Crow for Ward 6 Facebook page up soon. Searching for it just now, I had the honor of being the first "like." And probably the first to share his page's photo.
After Jon contacted me via Facebook messenger, I was intrigued by his unconventional campaigning approach. Here's what he said:
Good afternoon, I read your article and I thought I would introduce myself to you.
My name is Jonathan Crow and I am running for the vacant ward 6 on city council. I am a married father of 4 sons. I am a full time Lieutenant for Keizer Fire District in addition to being a small business owner. My wife and I run a small concessions/food cart, First Due Smokey BBQ (operations name will be changed to FirePit Kitchen, and First Due kept as the parent company).
I am running for public office for the first time. I am not loyal to any political party, as I vote who I see as the best person for the job, and believe in service and the greater good.
I am running a no campaign type of campaign. I will not be taking any donations or spending 1 dollar on signs or other materials. My wife and I plan on having a block party in the beginning of March where people can come to my front yard and have some food and beverages and address their concerns and get to know my family and who I am. I will also continue to go door to door meeting and talking with the people of ward 6.
If you would like to ever talk about my ideas and thoughts on the issues that our city faces, I would be more than happy to grab a coffee or a beer with you.
Well, sure, I replied. Which led to our congenial conversation.
Jon correctly feels that northeast Salem in general, and Ward 6 in particular, don't get enough attention from the folks at City Hall. "It's a forgotten part of town," he said. Indeed, we couldn't think of a major (or even minor) urban renewal project in this area.
Pleasingly, since I helped lead the fight against the wasteful $82 million police facility bond measure that was voted down last November, Jon said the City needs to come back with a different option. I liked his suggestion that City officials bring in ten average people to serve on a new police facility task force rather than the usual representatives of the Powers That Be.
Regarding transportation, he sounded appropriately skeptical about the current plan for a Third Bridge. Jon likes the idea of bringing Uber to Salem, though he wants a level playing field with cab companies.
His campaign strategy is to talk to people in 20 homes a day on his days off. Jon knocks on every door, irrespective of whether the occupants are registered to vote. (If they aren't, he encourages them to do so.)
So far he's heard that residents of Ward 6 want bus service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. "We need to help people out," he told me. One idea of his is to have Cherriots use smaller buses to allow for more frequent service.
Jon described himself as socially liberal and fiscally conservative. He doesn't like labels, telling me he's neither progressive nor conservative. He's never run for public office before and feels that the amount of money spent on local city council races is ridiculous.
So he's just talking to people. "I know my neighbors; my neighbors know me."
We chatted about all kinds of other stuff, but this is the gist of what I jotted down on the subject of his Ward 6 candidacy. Jon is a very easy guy to talk with. He's got his own opinions, but he's open to hearing other views. Jon said he and his wife voted for different people in the presidential election.
Ward 6 is fortunate to have Jonathan Crow running for city council.
After talking with him, I'm confident Jon would be a good councilor. However, from what I've heard about Chris Hoy, he also would serve Ward 6 residents well as their city councilor. Hoy is endorsed by Progressive Salem, so he appears to be the most progressive of the four candidates.
It's too early to predict how the Ward 6 race will turn out. But I'll make some observations.
Since Gregg Peterson, another candidate, has been endorsed by former conservative Mayor Anna Peterson and two of the three Republican Marion County commissioners, that's good enough reason for me to urge Ward 6 residents to NOT vote for Gregg Peterson.
The fourth candidate is Timothy Perkins, a Christian home-schooling Libertarian.
Seemingly Peterson and Perkins would attract conservative voters in liberal-leaning Ward 6. Thus Crow and Hoy should get most of the votes from moderates and progressives. My worry is that if those votes are divided fairly equally, Peterson or Perkins (more likely Peterson) could win the Ward 6 seat.
Which would be bad for both Ward 6 and Salem as a whole, since this election will tilt the current 4-4 City Council progressive/conservative split one way or the other. And I'm hoping it will be in the progressive direction.
Naturally Ward 6 voters should cast their ballots for whoever they favor as their representative on the Salem City Council. At the moment, I just feel like a vote for Hoy is a better bet than a vote for Crow, because I think Hoy has a greater chance of winning, and Ward 6 needs and deserves a liberal-leaning city councilor.