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Time for change in Senate

by: LEILA NAVIDI, Voters’ ballots must be received at any county elections office or designated drop site by 8 p.m. Nov. 4. Postmarks do not count.

If the Portland Tribune likes that Gordon Smith voted with Democrats so much, why doesn't it just support a Democrat?

The Tribune says this is not the time to send a new senator to Washington, D.C. What situation, then, would qualify as a good reason? Jeff Merkley is precisely who we need to change Washington.

As House speaker, he helped balance the state budget and stood up to corporate interests that shipped jobs overseas. He is the true ally of Ron Wyden and he supports Wyden's health care plan.

John Denton

Southeast Portland

PCC must continue to receive support

With the national election dominating our attention, it can be easy to forget that it's often the results of local elections that affect us the most.

This November, there is a measure on the ballot that will increase local residents' ability to get retrained after a layoff, learn a skill to make them more competitive in the job market, and obtain a college degree - Portland Community College's Measure 26-95.

PCC's bond measure will have a direct impact on our ability to weather these challenging times by expanding vocational training programs, modernizing equipment for job training, and building more classrooms and expanding distance learning so that the college can serve more students.

This fall our community has the opportunity to make an investment where the returns are guaranteed. Vote 'yes' for PCC.

Kristin Watkins

Northeast Portland

Restore democracy, fairness to elections

Really, the question here is not democracy.

Measure 56 allows new tax measures to be put on historically low-turnout election ballots. The legislators and initiative groups who want to push through their tax increases can do a 'get out the vote' campaign with their voters (who want the new tax) and force the rest of us, including the large majority, who do not vote in low-turnout elections, to pay their new tax. That is not democratic.

Be aware that it already is part of Oregon law that November tax ballot measures do not have to meet the double-majority (50 percent of eligible voters participating) rule to pass.

I say if they want democracy, they can plan ahead and put their tax measures on November ballots, where they can be voted on by a larger percentage of the voters.

Vote 'no' on Measure 56.

Stephanie Allisany

Southeast Portland

Measure 57 will help put bite on crime

The Legislature has given us something we can believe in. Measure 57 establishes sentencing guidelines for criminals who commit identity theft, crimes against property and elder abuse.

Measure 57 provides responsible means to help slow crime. It provides drug and alcohol treatment for criminals who need it and locks up criminals we do not want in our communities. It provides the courts with a means to divert youthful offenders who make mistakes.

As a corrections officer of nearly 20 years, I have seen criminals come and go. I have seen the successes and failures of our system. I support Measure 57, as do most of my peers and my labor union (AFSCME). Measure 57 provides the tools we need to work with criminals once they enter the criminal justice system.

Scott Campbell

Tigard

Kids need more time to master English

As an English learner and education professor, I agree we need to teach Oregon students English. However, Measure 58 is yet another bad idea by Bill Sizemore.

Under his plan, most students would only have one year before being placed in English 'immersion' (sink or swim) programs. Is Sizemore not aware that English-only classrooms already are the norm for the vast majority of Oregon's English learners?

Some student may be able to learn enough English to 'get by' on the playground or in the early grades in one or two years, but countless studies have shown that the type of English required for more challenging schoolwork such as chemistry takes, on average, four to seven years to acquire.

Sizemore probably also is not aware that Oregon already has a set of rigorous English Language Proficiency Standards and numerous assessment measures which hold schools accountable for the progress of their English learners.

Of course, there is room for improvement, but Measure 58 will make things worse.

Alejandra Favela

Lewis and Clark College assistant professor of education

Southeast Portland

Two measures both deserve 'no' votes

Consider the ramifications of Measures 58 and 60, two of Bill Sizemore's propositions.

No on Measure 60: If this measures passes, teachers' salaries will be based on one factor: standardized test scores. Many factors affect student achievement: health, nutrition, socio-economic level, class size, cognitive development, language proficiency, parental involvement and home environment.

None of these will matter if Measure 60 passes. Special-education teachers will be judged by the same criteria as regular classroom teachers.

No on Measure 58: This measure limits teaching in any language other than English to two years. More than 30 years of research indicates that, although it takes one to three years to learn basic communication skills, it takes five to seven years to develop academic language skills students need to be successful in school.

It will destroy dual language programs in which native English speakers and speakers of other languages become bilingual and biliterate together while developing multicultural social skills.

If you think you'll be saving tax dollars by passing these measures, think again. Measures 58 and 60 will ensure the failure of thousands of Oregon students - and they are not going to just go away. You'll be supporting, with your tax dollars, all the unprepared, unqualified adults who were denied a high-quality education when they were children.

Lisa Rodriguez

Corbett

Don't undo work that helps hungry

I manage an emergency food pantry for the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. We provide food boxes to more than 600 families monthly who are in some sort of crisis. Measure 64 will undermine our work.

Our pantry depends on the Oregon Food Bank for a significant amount of food, though there are a large number of churches and individual donors who also make it possible for us to serve. However, the Food Bank remains absolutely critical to helping the hungry in Oregon.

Measure 64 would ban food and fund drives on state property. That makes no sense. This is either a poorly conceived or poorly written measure and needs to be defeated.

John Elizalde

Northeast Emergency Food Program manager

Northeast Portland

Measure 65 destroys political diversity

In response to the editorial recommendations for ballot initiatives (Weighing in on the initiatives, Insight, Oct. 9), voters should be warned that Measure 65, in addition to allowing party-crossover voting in the primary, also mandates that only the top two candidates for a position in the primary go to the general election.

This would eliminate third-party candidate choices in the general election in several years.

Why? The top two vote getters in the primary would be, with rare exceptions, a Democrat and a Republican or, more likely, two Democrats for races in Portland and many Western Oregon areas and two Republicans for most Eastern Oregon regions.

Where a major party faces no opposition from their counterpart, party officials would make sure that at least two Democrats or two Republicans ran, thus squeezing out a third-party candidate from the general election.

Without a third party getting a certain percentage of the vote in the general election, the party would lose its ballot status. What would be the point of gathering signatures to re-qualify for ballot status?

While I'm not a member of a third party, I recognize that third parties bring out new ideas and push the old parties into adopting them if they resonate with voters. Let's embrace diversity instead of giving it the kiss of death.

Hugo Schulz

Southeast Portland