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Oregon carries off a drama-free election

While the eyes of the nation are fixed on a handful of swing states where vote counting was still underway Wednesday and may not be finished for days to come, Oregon voters can breathe a sigh of relief and congratulate themselves on an efficient, drama-free election conducted entirely by mail and largely completed before midnight Nov. 3.

Medford voters chose a new mayor and three council members, appearing to have replaced one incumbent by the narrowest of margins: Kay Brooks in Ward 3, who is behind in her reelection bid to challenger Chad Miller by 25 votes. Brooks has ably represented her ward on the council, and will be a hard act to follow if she does lose. Our best wishes to Miller if he does come out on top.

State Rep. Kim Wallan, R-Medford, turned back a challenge from Democrat Alberto Enriquez to win a second term in House District 6. Statewide, Democrats kept their supermajority in both houses of the Legislature, but were unable to pick up enough seats to conduct business without depending on Republicans to constitute a quorum and conduct business. That leaves open the possibility of another walkout by Republicans, a tactic Wallan participated in during her first term. Pure obstruction does not serve the public interest.

State Rep. Pam Marsh easily defeated perennial challenger Sandra Abercrombie in House District 5, which will allow her to continue her outstanding work on behalf of her constituents. The devastating Almeda fire was entirely in her district, and she has been tireless in her efforts to secure state assistance and to help those displaced by fire navigate the disaster relief bureaucracy.

At the county level, two highly qualified candidates faced off for an open seat on the Board of Commissioners, and voters chose Republican Dave Dotterrer of Ashland, who will bring his extensive background in management and disaster preparedness to bear on the process of rebuilding homes and businesses. Democrat Terrie Martin came up short in this campaign, but she has valuable contributions to make, and we feel sure county residents have not seen the last of her.

At the state level, voters said yes to a range of ballot initiatives, from imposing limits on political campaign contributions to raising tobacco taxes and decriminalizing hard drugs. They also approved a measure to permit therapeutic use of hallucinogenic mushrooms under controlled conditions with licensed practitioners.

Our primary concern is with Measure 110, which decriminalized possession of user quantities of drugs including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine while diverting tax revenue to direct users to addiction treatment rather than incarcerating them.

While we understand the sentiment behind voters’ approval of this measure, we don’t think it will do what voters intended or were told it would do: provide more treatment. Instead, it will create a network of “referral centers” to connect addicts with treatment without increasing the number of residential treatment beds, which are in short supply.

The 2021 Legislature should make it a priority to fix this measure by redirecting the money to provide actual treatment for those who cannot afford to pay for it. That would deliver what the voters said they want.

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