The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Time to ready for critical vote


April 29, 2020

Amid all the angst over COVID-19, attention may be a bit distracted from another very important event that is closing in fast upon us, one of the few that hasn’t been cancelled: Oregon’s primary election.

Ballots are being mailed as we speak. The final day to vote is Tuesday, May 19.

If you’re reading this before midnight on Tuesday, April 28, you actually still have a chance to register if you do it before 11:59 p.m. That’s how convenient it’s gotten to register.

Actually, it’s even easier than that, thanks to Oregon’s Motor Voter Law, passed in 2016, which automatically registers you if you’ve been to the DMV to apply for, renew, or replace an Oregon drivers’ license, ID card, or permit. It takes effort to not be registered to vote in Oregon.

All elections are important because they allow us, the citizens, to have a direct say in who represents us.

This one will be particularly so. Two longstanding politicians who represent our region, state Rep. Sherrie Sprenger and County Commissioner Will Tucker, are stepping down, though Sprenger is in the Republican race for Tucker’s seat.

Six Republicans – Jami Cate of Lebanon, Susan Coleman of Sweet Home, Bruce Cuff of the Santiam Canyon area, Tim Kirsch of Mill City, Dylan Richards of Sweet Home and Scott Sword of Sublimity – have committed to run for Sprenger’s seat in the House of Representatives. The winner of this primary will run against Stayton Democrat Paige Hook in November, who is unopposed this time around.

Sprenger faces fellow Republicans Kerry Johnson, Bill Schrader and Jack Tacy in the GOP primary for Linn County Commission Position 3. The winner will run in the fall against Democrat Scott Bruslind of Lebanon, who also has no challenger in this round.

These are important races because the eventual winners will be people we count on to make decisions and advocate for us.

The House race winner will be a new face representing us in Salem, where rural values and concerns have seemed to been lost in the shuffle of Democratic progressivism.

Rural Oregonians have been on the receiving end of a series of laws and executive orders that have stuck in the craw of many residents and which have particularly targeted businesses: cap-and-trade, the corporate activity tax (sold as the Student Success Act) which is no more than a sales tax foisted on every Oregon citizen who buys goods that he or she will pay more for, the mandated minimum wage hikes, paid sick leave.

All of these come on the heels of the state’s timber management practices that put it on the losing end of a $1.4 billion lawsuit by the counties, who argue that the state has managed our timberlands in a way that is capriciously contrary to its contractual obligations.

In short, there are a lot of reasons why #TimberUnity and other protest movements have gathered steam and provided a wake-up call to many rural residents.

If change is to come, at least for our district, it will be due in part to representation by a new face in Salem.

The question for voters will be who best can do that.

This will be a difficult decision. We have six quality individuals, all of whom are intelligent and bring legitimate experience and qualifications to the ballot.

Some of their names may be more recognizable to us than others, but they all deserve a hearing before we vote.

The shutdown of nearly all public activities has made it difficult for both candidates and voters in this election. Candidates can’t campaign, at least in person, and voters may be wondering how they’re supposed to find out about these people on the signs we see along the roadways are, other than what we see on their campaign websites.

To meet this need, we’re offering two helps to voters who will be trying to figure things out for the GOP primaries.

The first is the Primary Election Guide inside this issue, which profiles all six of the House candidates and three of those for the County Commission seat.

Also, The New Era, together with the Lebanon and Sweet Home chambers of commerce, organized and has posted online forums featuring all six House candidates and two of the commission candidates.

Buttons to connect to those are posted at

Our original plan was to do these live at Turning Point Church, with plenty of opportunity for interaction between candidates and attendees. For obvious reasons that didn’t happen, so the online version is the best we could do under the circumstances.

There’s a lot of information there and although the video quality isn’t terrific, you’ll definitely be able to hear what the candidates have to say – and we suggest you should.

This will be worth your time if you want to be an informed voter. Even if you’re pretty sure who you think is your pick, look over the Preview and take a listen the forums.

Look for and punch the red buttons to the right of the page, or find the forums directly at for the House forum or for the commission forum.

The future starts now, with this election. There are big issues ahead, not the least is how we recover from this coronavirus. The first decision is up to you. We promise that the Election Preview and the forums will definitely give you food for thought as you shelter.


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