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Primary Election Information and Endorsements

Greetings EF Members,

Fiora Starchild-Wolf, your COPE Chair here, encouraging you to vote!

The Oregon May Primary Election is right around the corner and there are some very important races that we hope you will want to weigh in on.  May 17 is the deadline for voting.

By now, you should have received your ballot, and as always, you have the option of either mailing it back, or dropping it off at any one of several drop boxes located around Lane County.  

If you choose to mail your ballot, Oregon law has changed this year. It used to be that you needed to mail your ballot in time to arrive by Election Day. 

However, now you can mail your ballot as long as it is postmarked BY Election Day.

So, if you are going to mail your ballot, be sure it is in the mail and postmarked by May 17.

I encourage you to vote, no matter who you vote for!  Democracy works when everyone participates.  However, if you’d like some guidance based on Oregon Labor groups, here is a list of labor based endorsements to consider:

Congressional Representative, District 4: Val Hoyle

Back in February, I sent a questionnaire to all candidates running for this seat, which has been held by Peter DeFazio since he was elected in 1986. With Congressman DeFazio stepping down, as well as the districts being redrawn due to Oregon gaining a Congressional seat from the census results, there are several good candidates running for this office. 

We set up interviews with the EC for each of the candidates who responded, and then held a vote.  (I abstained from the vote, as I have personal ties with 3 of the candidates). 

Though all candidates had strong points, we unanimously chose Val Hoyle to endorse. Val is the strongest Labor candidate, just now finishing up her term as Labor Commissioner this year, and coming from a union family. Val also has a great deal of legislative experience, unlike the other candidates, having sat on the Oregon Legislature for many years.  She is a champion also for higher education, and over the past year, offered support directly for our own membership when requested. We feel that, of all the candidates for this very important position, she also has the best chance of not only holding this seat against major out of state corporate money that will be trying to gain our district, but of hitting the ground running with important federal projects once in Washington DC.  

Other Endorsements– Northwest Labor Press Guide

While we would have liked to have continued the process for offering our own endorsements for local/regional candidates for this primary, unfortunately, we did not get the opportunity to do so.

Instead, we have looked at NW Labor Press’ endorsement page, as they collected the endorsements of multiple labor organizations in Oregon, including our local Labor Council of AFL-CIO

Lane County Commissioner, District 1: Dawn Lesley 

Dawn Lesley is an environmental engineer and current vice chair of the Lane County Budget Committee. LCCLC, LCBCT, AFSCME, IBEW, IBT, IUPAT, IW, OEA, SEIU, SMART, UA290, UBC, UFCW

Lane County Commissioner, District 2: Joe Berney

Joe Berney is the current county commissioner for Position 2. He’s a vocal supporter of the building trades and has been a strong advocate for project labor agreements. He rallied his fellow commissioners to pass a community benefits agreement last year covering county construction projects. LCCLC, LCBTC, AFSCME, IBEW, IBT, Insulators, IW 29, LIUNA, SEIU, SMART, UA290, UBC, UFCW, WFP

Lane County Commissioner, District 5: Heather Buch

Heather Buch is a current county commissioner and the owner of a property management company. She has strong union backing and has walked a picket line in support of county workers and her 2018 election to the commission helped remove an anti-union majority from the board. LCCLC, LCBTC, AFSCME, IAFF 851, IBEW, IBT, IW 29, LiUNA, OEA, SEIU, SMART, UA290, UBC, UFCW, WFP

Statewide Races:


Of the multiple candidates running for Governor, only two have any Labor endorsements, Tina Kotek and Tobias Read. Aside from the attack ads you may be seeing on your television, both of these candidates deserve a look and are pro-labor. Tina Kotek has multiple labor endorsements, while Tobias Read is co-endorsed with Tina Kotek by IBT. 

Tina Kotek:  Tina served as a state representative in Portland’s House District 44 from 2007 through this year, when she stepped down to focus on the governor’s race. She was Speaker of the House from 2013 until her departure. Kotek has strong support from organized labor – although public employees haven’t forgotten her pivotal role in cutting PERS retirement benefits in 2019. OBTC, IBEW, IBT (joint endorsement), IUOE, IUPAT, IW 29, LiUNA, OEA, ONA, SEIU, SMART, UA 290, UNITE HERE

Click here to read why labor organizations endorse Tina Kotek

Tobias Read:  Tobias has served as Oregon State Treasurer since 2016, a role that has him managing the state’s funds, including directing how PERS money is invested. In that role, in 2020 he implemented a rule that majority PERS-owned property or infrastructure would only hire contractors that pay fair wages and benefits, a move unions had called for. But during his time as a State Representative, Read voted with other Democrats in 2013 to cut PERS benefits. IBT (joint endorsement)

Labor Commissioner:

Christina Stephenson is an employee-side civil rights attorney and is well-known in Oregon labor circles. She helped draft pro-worker legislation establishing fair scheduling practices, requiring employers to have a policy for reporting discrimination and sexual assault, and protecting workers who file OSHA complaints from retaliation. Other candidates in the race include Casey Kulla, a Yamhill County Commissioner who has received union endorsements in the past, and Teamsters Local 81 member and Oregon Progressive Party activist Chris Henry. AFL-CIO, OBTC, AFSCME, AFT, ATU, IAFF, IBEW, IBT, ILWU, IUOE, IUPAT, IW 29, LiUNA, OEA, ONA, OSEA, SMART, UA 290, UBC, UFCW, WFP

City Councils: Most races are unopposed.  The two following races are contested, and the candidates in bold have been endorsed by the Eugene Weekly. 

Matt Keating, who sat on the Lane Community College Board of Education for many years, and was very much supportive of our members and our union overall, is now a Eugene City Councilor–who was supported by LCCEF. He has weighed in on recommendations for the two contested City Council races.  Both are very much pro-labor and are also focused on important local issues such as housing for very low-income people–our students among them.

Eugene City Council:

Jennifer Yeh

Springfield City Council: 

Mark Molina 

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