Forums, debate aim to educate voters

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L. Christopher, D. McKane

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A bevy of local organizations and your hometown newspaper aim to make sure local voters understand the choices they’ll be asked to make in November’s local election.

A mayoral debate, two candidate meet-and-greets and a business-oriented forum on statewide ballot measures are all slated in coming weeks as Keizer voters prepare to fill out their ballots.

The Keizertimes is hosting a debate on Tuesday, Oct. 9 between Mayor Lore Christopher and challenger David McKane, a city councilor for the past eight years. The debate format between the two mayoral candidates is designed to draw out differences between them.

That event, set for 7 p.m. at the Keizer Civic Center, will also include a forum featuring Marlene Quinn, Matthew Chappell and Eamon Bishop, all of whom are seeking the same Keizer City Council position. The city’s at-large election system allows candidates to choose which seat to run for, and are not bound by geographic wards or districts.

Two council seats, sought by local attorney and former Mayor Dennis Koho, and West Keizer Neighborhood Association Vice President Ken LeDuc, are unopposed. All told, three new councilors will be seated in January 2013, possibly alongside a new mayor.

Earlier that day, the Keizer Chamber of Commerce is presenting arguments in favor of and in opposition to several statewide ballot measures that could affect the local business community.

Oregonians are routinely asked to make big decisions regarding statewide policy on the ballot, and this election is no different: Among the hot questions up for a vote include whether privately-owned casinos will be allowed in Oregon, eliminating estate and inheritance taxes, legalizing marijuana for personal use and reallocating corporate income kicker refunds to fund kindergarten through 12th grade education.

Those wishing for a local perspective on these stateside issues can attend the chamber’s luncheon at 11:30 a.m. At the Keizer Renaissance Inn. Admission is $15, which includes lunch. Register at keizerchamber.com or 503-393-9111.

Pros and cons for the estate tax elimination, corporate income kicker diversion and the casino measures will all be presented at the event, said Christine Dieker, the chamber’s executive director. She said that locals should pay attention to the casino debate, despite the fact it centers around a proposed new facility an hour away in Multnomah County.

“Six out of seven people need jobs outside of Keizer currently, and a lot of people in Keizer work at Spirit Mountain,” Dieker said. That casino is owned and operated by the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde.

Keizer’s two neighborhood associations are also getting in the mix. The West Keizer Neighborhood Association continues its meet-the-candidates series with Christopher, Koho and LeDuc as guests. That group meets at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 at the Keizer Civic Center.

A week later, the Gubser Neighborhood Association welcomes candidates for local races along with the state legislature and Congress. It’s at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18 at the Keizer Civic Center. Christopher, McKane, LeDuc, Bishop, Chappell and Quinn have all confirmed in local races. State Rep. Kim Thatcher, R – Keizer, will stop by as part of her re-election bid for the Oregon House of Representative’s 25th District. Congressional hopefuls Fred Thompson, a Republican, and Christina Jean Lugo of the Pacific Green Party will also be on hand.

Finally, on Wednesday, Oct. 24 McKane is hosting an informal question-and-answer session from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. at the Keizer Heritage Center, 980 Chemawa Road NE. It’s hosted by the Committee for a Better Keizer, which is fundraising for McKane.

A tidbit the one-vote-doesn’t-matter crowd should consider: In 1992, just 17 votes stopped a proposed levy that would help fund essential city services (sound familiar?). And in 2011, a measure to ban big-box retail stores outside the currently-developed portion of Keizer Station failed by less than 40 votes.

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