May 17th marked a turning point in Oregon politics for 2022. With the conclusion of primary races across the State, Oregon voters now have a clear view of the final slate of individuals who will be vying for elected office in our state. Below is a preview of races which have a direct impact on the Salem community, a recap of how the races turned out, and what Salem voters may expect in the months to come in the lead up to the November 8th general election.
The race for Oregon’s next governor will be the highest-profile race in Oregon in more than a decade as Oregon has not had an open race for Governor since 2010. The Democrat nominee is long-time Speaker of the House and one of Oregon’s most influential elected officials in modern history, Tina Kotek. Kotek, the former State Representative from Oregon House District 43/44, ran away with the democrat nomination, beating out 15 challengers with 56% of the vote.
In the Republican camp, former Minority House Leader and Representative from Clackamas Christine Drazan won the Republican nomination in a close race by capturing 22.57% of the Republican vote. Drazan, beat a field of 19 gubernatorial hopefuls such as longtime Republican leader Bob Tiernan, former Republican gubernatorial candidate Bud Pierce and Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam.
In addition to Kotek and Drazan, longtime Democrat Senator Betsy Johnson from the north coast through her hat in the race last September as a non-affiliated candidate for Governor. Johnson, who has been known as one of Oregon’s most senior and moderate Democrat leaders in Oregon for more than two decades will bring an interesting contrast between the more progressive Kotek and more conservative Drazan and is vying to be seen as the middle of the road choice for Oregon voters.
This slate of candidates is the first in Oregon’s history with three women being at the top of the ballot. There is no doubt that this race will fetch in the tens of millions of dollars between the three candidates. As of the 1st of June, Betsy Johnson has over $5 million on hand and has raised nearly $3 million since she announced her candidacy. Kotek has raised nearly $1.8 million and spent nearly 1.7 million in her bid for the Democrat nomination, leaving roughly $115,000 on hand. Drazan outraised Kotek by roughly $200,000, putting her at $2 million raised, and spent over $1.9 million in her primary, leaving $102,000 on hand.
Johnson will certainly pull votes from both Kotek and Drazan in the Nov. election, so one may expect both of them to run on stricter party lines to ensure their base turns out for them. Meanwhile, Johnson will seek to put holes in her challenger’s positions and look to attract the middle-of-the-road voters who are fed up with the hyperpolarization in Oregon politics.
In the most highly contested race for Mayor in years, City Council President and State Representative Chris Hoy beat longtime community leader Chane Griggs by nearly 4,000 votes or 9 percentage points. Hoy, a retired Undersheriff with the Clackamas County Sherriff’s office and Salem City Councilor for Ward 6 will be the next Mayor of Salem. Late last year, Hoy was appointed to the Oregon House of Representatives, replacing longtime Democrat Brian Clem. In addition to his role on the state level, Hoy has served as the Salem City Council President for a majority of his time on the council and is the Vice-Chair for the Mid-Willamette Homeless Alliance and the Chair of the Salem Housing Authority. As Mayor, Hoy will work for Salem as he envisions an active, thriving community that cares about people and the environment.
Salem City Council Ward 2
The results for the Ward 2 seat were set-in-stone early on as Linda Nishioka was the only individual to throw her hat in for this seat. Longtime councilor Tom Andersen announced he was running for the Oregon Legislature late last year and would not be seeking re-election in Ward 2. Nishioka is a retired MD from Willamette Ear, Nose, Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery and has lived in Salem for most of her life. She has served the city in numerous roles as a volunteer on several community boards and committees.
Salem City Council Ward 4
As election results are closer to being finalized in Marion County, the only city council race which is still undecided and may go into a runoff through the November 8th General Election, the City Council Ward 4 (South Salem) race is still too close to call. As of June 1st, Deanna Gwynn, a longtime real estate agent in Salem is beating Dynee Medlock, an IT consultant by only 2 votes. There are 13 more days for each candidate to engage in ballot rehab efforts and reach out to voters who have challenged ballots (unverified signatures) before the election is certified. In order to win outright and not force a runoff, one of the two candidates will need to receive 51% of the votes. Currently, Deanna Gwynn is leading Dynee Medlock 50.09% to 49.98%.
Salem City Council Ward 6
In East Salem, Julie Hoy is currently ahead of Stacey Vieyra-Braendle by roughly 150 votes. This race is seemingly over as Hoy is currently winning by 7 percentage points. Hoy is the owner of Geppetto’s Italian Restaurant on Lancaster and has lived in East Salem for over 30 years. Ward 6 has been held by Chris Hoy (no relation) since 2017.
Salem City Council Ward 8
In West Salem, Micki Varney is currently leading challenger Chris Cummings by 184 votes or roughly 3 percentage points. This race is seemingly over as current City Councilor Varney has won her race. Varney was appointed to represent Ward 8 after longtime councilor Jim Lewis announced his retirement in late February. Varney is a marine biologist who has served on numerous volunteer committees within Salem and has an extensive track record of community volunteerism.