NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, October 21st, 2023

Watch three OR-05 Democratic contenders make the case for their party’s nomination

Hel­lo again from Sun­riv­er and the 2023 Ore­gon Summit!

Fol­low­ing lunch this after­noon, many Sum­mit atten­dees gath­ered in the Sun­riv­er Resort’s Great Hall to hear from three of the can­di­dates run­ning for Con­gress in Ore­gon’s 5th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict: State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Janelle Bynum, pre­vi­ous OR-05 Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee Jamie McLeod-Skin­ner, and Metro Pres­i­dent Lynn Peter­son. The 5th is a cross-Cas­cades dis­trict that Repub­li­cans were able to flip last year when Lori Chavez-DeRe­mer defeat­ed McLeod-Skin­ner in a close race.

Democ­rats would very much like to take OR-05 back next year and help elect a Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty in the Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Chavez-DeRe­mer is the only Repub­li­can mem­ber of Con­gress from the Pacif­ic North­west who is con­sid­ered to be at risk of los­ing her seat, because the oth­er seats held by Repub­li­cans are all in dis­tricts that have very con­ser­v­a­tive electorates.

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty of Ore­gon gave Bynum, McLeod-Skin­ner, and Peter­son the oppor­tu­ni­ty to make a pitch to Sum­mit atten­dees dur­ing a near­ly hour­long forum mod­er­at­ed by recent­ly elect­ed DPO Chair Rosa Colquitt.

Soft­ware engi­neer and AFSCME mem­ber Cameron Pahl, who is also seek­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s nom­i­na­tion, was not invit­ed to par­tic­i­pate in the forum, though some of his sup­port­ers attend­ed and cir­cu­lat­ed his lit­er­a­ture afterward.

Here is how the three can­di­dates who par­tic­i­pat­ed describe themselves:

Janelle Bynum

A moth­er of four chil­dren and a small busi­ness own­er of restau­rants, Janelle Bynum knows our com­mu­ni­ty and works hard for us. It’s what her par­ents taught her to do.

The daugh­ter of teach­ers, her par­ents taught Janelle that edu­ca­tion was the key to a bet­ter, safer world. When drug vio­lence threat­ened her inner city neigh­bor­hood in Wash­ing­ton, DC, Janelle put that ide­al into prac­tice. She earned schol­ar­ships and put her­self through school, earn­ing her Bachelor’s degree in Elec­tri­cal Engi­neer­ing and her Master’s degree in Busi­ness Administration.

Today, Janelle and her hus­band, Mark, live in Hap­py Val­ley with their chil­dren. Janelle oper­ates her family’s small busi­ness, run­ning four restau­rants in our com­mu­ni­ty. In her restau­rants, Janelle con­tin­ues to embody those ideals taught to her ear­ly in life, men­tor­ing her employ­ees, pro­vid­ing schol­ar­ships to con­tin­ue their edu­ca­tion and encour­ag­ing them to dream big.

Jamie McLeod-Skin­ner

Raised by a sin­gle mom when she was young, Jamie McLeod-Skin­ner worked her way through col­lege and became an engi­neer, a pub­lic ser­vant, and a small busi­ness own­er. Jamie led the effort to help Ore­gon com­mu­ni­ties recov­er after the dev­as­tat­ing fires and she cur­rent­ly works in emer­gency pre­pared­ness, afford­able hous­ing, and as a leader in pro­tect­ing Oregon’s watersheds.

She will bring her diverse expe­ri­ences to address our biggest chal­lenges: fight­ing for work­ing Ore­go­ni­ans, pro­tect­ing our envi­ron­ment, and pre­serv­ing our democracy.

Through pro­fes­sion­al work, pub­lic ser­vice, and vol­un­teerism, she uses her back­ground in engi­neer­ing, region­al plan­ning, law, and as a small busi­ness own­er to bridge our divides for bet­ter stew­ard­ship of our envi­ron­ment, econ­o­my, and democracy.

Lynn Peter­son

Metro Pres­i­dent Lynn Peter­son is serv­ing her sec­ond term lead­ing the nation’s only elect­ed region­al government.

A trans­porta­tion engi­neer and urban plan­ner by train­ing, Peter­son pre­vi­ous­ly served as the first elect­ed Chair of Clacka­mas Coun­ty – the largest coun­ty in Oregon’s 5th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict. She also worked as Trans­porta­tion Advi­sor to a past Ore­gon Gov­er­nor, and served as Wash­ing­ton State’s Sec­re­tary of Transportation.

A life­long Demo­c­rat active in her par­ty, enters the race with over 50 promi­nent endorse­ments from office­hold­ers and can­di­dates at all lev­els of Ore­gon gov­ern­ment. A vet­er­an cam­paign­er, Lynn has won each of her five cam­paigns for local and region­al office, and suc­cess­ful­ly led four recent region­al bal­lot mea­sures to victory.

The forum con­sist­ed of open­ing state­ments, ques­tions asked by Colquitt which were pro­vid­ed to the can­di­dates in advance, and clos­ing statements.

Watch the forum here:

Colquit­t’s first ques­tion con­cerned Chavez-DeRe­mer’s refusal to hold town hall meet­ings. She asked if the hope­fuls would each com­mit to hold­ing town halls.

Every sin­gle can­di­date offered an emphat­ic yes.

Lynn Peter­son observed that some­times the “seeds of an idea is a start­ing point and then we need to cul­ti­vate it togeth­er”. Town halls are an impor­tant com­po­nent of con­gres­sion­al account­abil­i­ty and transparency.

McLeod-Skin­ner con­tend­ed that it is part of the job to hold month­ly town hall meet­ings with con­stituents. Show­ing up is crit­i­cal to account­abil­i­ty, she said.

Janelle Bynum told atten­dees that she is known for show­ing up and tak­ing action, cit­ing her tra­di­tion of taco town halls, where peo­ple invite her to a town hall oppor­tu­ni­ty and pro­vide tacos for atten­dees to enjoy.

The next ques­tion relat­ed to sup­port­ing Ore­gon’s labor movement.

All can­di­dates affirmed that they will be strong, pro-labor U.S. representatives.

Peter­son told atten­dees that she comes from a fam­i­ly of union work­ers and strives to sup­port strik­ing work­ers and uphold their col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights. Peter­son men­tioned that at Metro (the region’s only region­al gov­ern­ment) they increased their min­i­mum wage to $20 an hour and will con­tin­ue to strive for more.

McLeod-Skin­ner said she wants to pro­tect pen­sions through PLA (Project Labor Agree­ments) and make the most of oppor­tu­ni­ties to con­struct pub­lic works projects with union labor using infra­struc­ture dollars.

Bynum spoke about her upbring­ing, men­tion­ing her par­ents and how they were fur­loughed numer­ous times. Bynum is a cham­pi­on for paid fam­i­ly leave and pro­vid­ing path­ways for young peo­ple to enter the build­ing trades.

The third ques­tion was about cli­mate damage.

Peter­son talked about reduc­ing emis­sions through elec­tric vehi­cle adoption.

McLeod-Skin­ner argued that Amer­i­ca needs long term solu­tions, includ­ing an elec­tri­cal grid sup­port­ed by renew­able ener­gy sources.

Bynum said she thinks about the issue from the per­spec­tive of a mom work­ing to leave a bet­ter plan­et behind for her chil­dren. She’d also like to make Ore­gon a hub for clean ener­gy and show how a piv­ot away from fos­sil fuels can be realized.

The can­di­dates’ clos­ing state­ments were per­haps the most inter­est­ing part of the forum. Each used their three min­utes to call atten­tion to what they believe are their strengths and why they would make the best nom­i­nee in Ore­gon’s 5th.

Here are their clos­ing state­ments in their entirety:

Janelle Bynum’s pitch

Democ­rats, thank you so much for hav­ing us here today.

We’ve all gath­ered here today for the very same rea­son. Elec­tions have con­se­quences, and we can­not afford anoth­er Lori Chavez-DeRe­mer term. With her rep­re­sent­ing us in Con­gress, our voic­es aren’t at the table. The needs of our com­mu­ni­ty aren’t being prioritized.

And instead, we have a rep­re­sen­ta­tive who’s more inter­est­ed in pleas­ing the extreme mem­bers of her par­ty and spe­cial inter­ests than any­one else than actu­al­ly legislating.

The num­bers don’t lie. I’m the only one that has beat­en her twice and will beat her again. That’s because the tough­est chal­lenges of our time, whether it be cli­mate or hous­ing or safe­ty, I will always bring peo­ple together.

We will always have tough dis­cus­sions and we will always find com­mon ground. And because of that ethos, I have an actu­al track record of tan­gi­ble suc­cess. Because par­ents rec­og­nize when their kids are learn­ing, com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers know when their com­mu­ni­ty is safer, com­muters rec­og­nize when their dri­ve to work gets a lit­tle bit bet­ter, and work­ing peo­ple are excit­ed about the invest­ments in the econ­o­my and the cre­ation of good jobs close to home.

The per­spec­tive that I bring is valuable.

As some­one who left home at fif­teen because my par­ents want­ed me to get a bet­ter edu­ca­tion away from the drugs and vio­lence. As a small busi­ness woman who knows what it’s like to sign the check of a kid hav­ing their first job and sup­port a thriv­ing local economy.

As an elec­tri­cal engi­neer — the best kind! — who likes to take apart com­plex issues and put togeth­er solutions.

As a mom of four chil­dren who wants our daugh­ters and our sons to have the very same rights. At the end of the day it’s about our chil­dren for me. Are they safe? Are they nourished?

Do they have access to high qual­i­ty education?

Will they have bet­ter oppor­tu­ni­ties than their parents?

Our chil­dren are watch­ing as their fates are being decid­ed in our halls of pow­er. Deci­sion mak­ers should be the adults in the room. And sad­ly, that’s not the case. Our chil­dren deserve bet­ter. And Ore­gon deserves bet­ter. And that’s why I’m run­ning for Congress.

I’m so proud of the move­ment we’ve built to pay oppor­tu­ni­ty for­ward in Ore­gon. And I’m grate­ful for the sup­port from lead­ers like Con­gress­woman Sali­nas, Con­gress­woman Bonam­i­ci, and the Con­gres­sion­al Black Cau­cus. Ore­gon House Speak­er Dan Ray­field and Leader Julie Fahey. I invite you today to join Team Bynum at JanelleBynum.com. And thank you for hav­ing us all today.

Lynn Peterson’s pitch

Thank you again to the DPO, team mem­bers, and the vol­un­teers for putting on this event this weekend.

Lis­ten, I was also raised by a sin­gle mom who was an edu­ca­tor, and a fam­i­ly of teach­ers that believed in the pow­er of unionization.

And I learned the pow­er of pub­lic edu­ca­tion, team­work, and that true lead­er­ship is col­lab­o­ra­tive and based on truth.

I pushed against the glass ceil­ing and I had a mom who encour­aged it and let me run with it. I pushed through the glass ceil­ing as a civ­il engi­neer in an agency with a ten bil­lion dol­lar bian­nu­al bud­get and 6,800 employ­ees while work­ing on racial equi­ty and cli­mate change.

And I pushed the the size of the box open as an elect­ed offi­cial in Ore­gon pol­i­tics. I pushed through those ceil­ings with those that need­ed an ally, with my union broth­ers and sis­ters, my women part­ners, my Black, Lati­no, indige­nous, Jew­ish, Mus­lim, LGBTQ, trans broth­ers and sis­ters as well.

I am not afraid of a fight or to stand up for what is right. The best com­pli­ment I ever got was from the Clacka­mas Coun­ty Sher­iff Deputies [who said] Lynn, no mat­ter how many big guys with big guns we bring to talk to you, you told us the truth and treat­ed us fair­ly. We as Democ­rats need to con­tin­ue to mea­sure suc­cess, not by what we promise, but what we deliver.

I am proud of my demon­strat­ed record of accom­plish­ment in bricks and mor­tar, in lives touched and restored, in work­ers ele­vat­ed, in women and BIPOC com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers who see them­selves in dif­fer­ent roles and lead­er­ship positions.

I have won in Clacka­mas Coun­ty five times. And that rep­re­sents forty-nine per­cent of the CD 5 district.

My dis­trict I cov­er now is two and a half con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts in pop­u­la­tion. Add in the Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty por­tion of that, we are just over fifty per­cent of the dis­trict that has vot­ed for me and the bal­lot mea­sures that we have put out to make the region and state a bet­ter and stronger place now and in the future.

Now, let’s go make it a win in May by stand­ing togeth­er for progress. And I ask for your vote and sup­port to retire Lori Chavez-DeRe­mer once and for all. Thank you.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner’s pitch

Well, thanks DPO staff for orga­niz­ing and our Chair for orga­niz­ing this forum. Thanks for y’all for being here.

Thanks for both of you for com­ing to Cen­tral Ore­gon. I’m so pas­sion­ate about that last ques­tion we were talk­ing about housing.

Those are great tourists and all. I want to also say that in terms of a, a, a fed­er­al tool is CDBG funds because cities can’t han­dle them along with SDCs, but, I’m work­ing on an afford­able hous­ing project right now. That is work I’m real­ly pas­sion­ate about. Also, uh, look­ing at the attacks on our schools, which we know is com­ing and some­one who’s been on a rur­al ESD board, these are chal­leng­ing times. We’re see­ing book ban­ning and oth­er things hap­pen­ing right here in Cen­tral Oregon.

You know, we learned a lot last year and, what I’ve done is built on the strengths and made adjust­ments where needed.

But this is such an impor­tant race.

No one doubts that, but we will not win it by not under­stand­ing it.

And… I think, assum­ing it is just a Metro-based dis­trict, not only is [that a] huge dis­re­spect to the rest of the dis­trict, it’s also… does not ful­ly under­stand the dis­trict. Look, I, crushed at Mult­nom­ah, I won in Clacka­mas, we all beat Lori in those areas.

This race will be won out­side the Metro area, and so that’s crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant for Democ­rats to understand.

If you ignore that and blow that off, we will lose this seat next year. And that’s real­ly, real­ly impor­tant. So what I’ve done… I’ve got a much, much more expe­ri­enced and stronger team. We’ve got a more focused strat­e­gy. And, great sup­port from the grass­roots with­in the dis­trict, with­in the district.

And lead­ers, com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers with­in the dis­trict. Up to D.C., we’ve got the LGBT Equal­i­ty PAC. I, I know there’s, there’s been two PACs at the fed­er­al lev­el, and con­gres­sion­al folks at the fed­er­al lev­el, who have a dif­fer­ent take on this race. But… the LGBT com­mu­ni­ty is under attack right now, and these are issues that are going to be front and cen­ter in the next cou­ple of years.

You know, it’s going to come down to CD5 vot­ers, and I’m up over forty points in the pri­ma­ry poll of like­ly vot­ers, and that was using the gov­er­nor’s polling orga­ni­za­tion to make sure we had accu­rate data. Real­ly appre­ci­ate all the sup­port we’ve got. We’re going to have a much more tar­get­ed strat­e­gy, like I said.

Bot­tom line’s is, my team is com­mit­ted to, you know, sup­port­ing work­ing fam­i­lies. Mak­ing sure we’re pro­tect­ing our envi­ron­ment and pro­tect­ing our fun­da­men­tal rights and pro­tect­ing our allies abroad. I’m the only one up here with inter­na­tion­al expe­ri­ence as well. Want­ed to encour­age folks to join us at jamiefororegon.com to contribute.

Again, I don’t take cor­po­rate PAC mon­ey and so real­ly appre­ci­ate that sup­port too. But also want­ed to say that, um, again, we’ll be, Dems will be hit hard no mat­ter who the nom­i­nee is.

And so one of the rea­sons why I’m so, I want us to be so focused on the, on win­ning, the gen­er­al is, I’ve pro­posed a “keep it clean” pledge to both my colleagues.

I sent it to them about two months ago and about a month ago, and I’d wel­come you right now if you want to sign this pledge right now to keep it clean, the pri­ma­ry, so we can be focused on win­ning the gen­er­al. And I’ll have this on our table if you want to see it, but I also right now want to invite both my col­leagues to sign it if you will.

Either [of you]? No? Okay. We ought to win this, folks. Thank you all for being here, and we’d appre­ci­ate your sup­port. Thank you.

Ore­gon’s 2024 pri­ma­ry will be held on Tues­day, May 21st, 2024.

At that time, vot­ers will decide which Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­tender will earn a spot on the state’s gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot and face Lori Chavez-DeRe­mer, who is expect­ed to eas­i­ly pre­vail in the dis­tric­t’s Repub­li­can primary.

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