Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Process

Being the sort of guy who likes to understand how everything works (yes, I'm an engineer) I started the process by reading the Oregon State Constitution, the state statute governing elections (ORS249), and the Hood River City Code. I found that I would need 20 valid signatures of registered city voters by 72 hours before the filing deadline of August 29 to get my name on the November ballot. I also found that there can be a $150,000 fine for lying on my filing forms, and that no one in Oregon may serve in public office if they have challenged anyone to a duel. I managed to get the forms and petition signatures together without lying or dueling, and the City and County have verified the "adequacy" of my submissions-- so the race is on!

We have six City Councilors and a Mayor-- three of the Councilors and the Mayor are up for election this November. This race is non-partisan, so there is no primary election. My name will appear on the November ballot along with three incumbents in a "vote for any 3" format. Top three vote counts take the seat. The three incumbents would have been uncontested without me in the race, so I suspect they are not thrilled to see me. But I'll add that the two I've spoken with have been very gracious in welcoming me.

Just by filing I've guaranteed there will actually be some discussion of local issues. The race will get some newspaper coverage, and we'll have a candidates' forum. Democracy lives!

Hood River has about 3200 registered voters in 3000 homes, which means politics here is largely a door-to-door operation. I figure I will need between 900 and 1200 votes to win a seat, depending on turnout. This is a small town and I know a lot of people, but not that many! My opponents have their names in the paper every month or so because of their Council roles, so I really need to focus on name recognition. That means overcoming my shyness and introducing myself to a lot of strangers, as well as putting up lawn signs and passing out leaflets.

In Oregon any campaign which spends over $300 needs to form an official campaign committee and do regular filings with the state. That's a big motivation to run my campaign on a shoe string budget. Printing leaflets and signs for <$300 will be a challenge. Note to state legislators-- this limit needs to be updated just a bit. Note to political junkies-- I promise to get into the local issues in detail, but there's just a little more intro I need to do.


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