Ballot measures approved, drug possession decriminalized
Although votes are still being counted and many races are too close to call across the nation, in Oregon, Election Day provided clear victories for Democrats. Former Vice President Joe Biden won the state by 16 points and Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley was reelected by 18 points. All four Democratic representatives won reelection: Suzanne Bonamici won the 1st District by 30 points, Earl Blumenauer won the 3rd District by 53 points, Peter DeFazio won the 4th District by five points, and Kurt Schrader won the 5th District by nine points. In the 2nd District, Republican Cliff Bentz beat Alex Spenser by 23 points. Statewide, Democrats maintained their supermajority in the State House and Senate. While a few seats flipped both ways, overall, Democrats lost one seat in the House, resulting in a 18-12 majority in the Senate and 37-23 majority in the House. Democrats also maintained important statewide seats including Shemia Fagan as Secretary of State, Tobias Read as Treasurer, and Ellen Rosenblum for Attorney General. In Portland, Ted Wheeler won reelection, beating Sarah Iannarone by six points. Write-ins, including Teressa Raiford, accounted for 12% of the vote. Reed alum Mingus Mapps ‘90 beat incumbent Chloe Eudaly for City Commissioner by 12 points.
All four statewide ballot measures were approved. Measure 107 is a constitutional amendment to allow future laws on campaign finance reform. Now, the legislature will be able to pass laws setting contribution limits, requiring advertisements label who funded them, and compelling disclosure of campaign contributions. Measure 108 increases taxes on nicotine products to fund healthcare for low-income individuals. The increased taxes are expected to raise $110 million from 2019-2021 and over $330 million from 2021-2023, with 90% dedicated to the Oregon Health Plan and 10% dedicated to anti-nicotine public health programs. Measure 109 legalizes research on the medical potential of psilocybin (the psychoactive compound in psychedelic mushrooms), creating the Oregon Psilocybin Services Program which will be implemented following a two year development period. A groundbreaking victory for decriminalization, Measure 110 decriminalizes drug possession and will create many Addiction Recovery Centers (ARCs) by October 2021. The ARCs will cost $57 million which will be funded by additional revenue (after $11.25 million per quarter) from marijuana taxes. The measure reclassifies almost all felony or misdemeanor possession (without intent to distribute) as a Class E violation resulting in either a $100 fine or a health assessment from an ARC. Decriminalization, and the resulting decrease in incarceration, are expected to save the state almost $50 million over the next four years.
In Multnomah County, five ballot measures were approved. Measure 26-211 will increase library space by 50%, in part by building a brand new library in Gresham. It will also equip every library with high speed internet access and create a unified distribution center. Paid for by a property tax, the bond will cost $387 million. Measure 26-213 will create a property levy to provide ongoing funding for the parks and recreation department. The measure will prevent proposed cuts to recreation programs, and preserve and maintain parks and wildlands. Another nationally groundbreaking decision, Measure 26-214 will create free public preschool for all three to four-year-old children, funded by a progressive income tax on households making more than $125,000. Access to early education has shown to be a significant factor in future educational success. Measure 26-215, a $1.2 billion bond, will fund facility improvements and renovations as well as make targeted investments to improve services for students of color. Measure 26-217 amends the Portland city charter to create an independent police oversight board who will be appointed by the City Council. Only one ballot measure failed: Measure 26-218 would have provided $5 billion for transportation projects.