The election season yard signs are out in full force in Philomath and although various likeminded homeowners may be simply showing support for their chosen candidates, there is also the perception that certain alliances may exist.
Philomath’s recent City Council election past has seen public declarations of support among groups of candidates — in 2020 and 2022. Is there anything to it? Do certain candidates just seem to be allies with similar views and perspectives on the issues? How do the candidates themselves feel about it?
This is the fifth of a five-part series of questions and answers published this week at PhilomathNews.com. The nine candidates running for the Philomath City Council include incumbents Jessica Andrade, Catherine Biscoe, Ruth Causey, Matt Lehman, David Low and Teresa Nielson, and challengers Diane Crocker, Christopher McMorran and Peggy Yoder.
For more information, the Benton County Elections Office uploaded each candidate’s filing form. Information on the forms include details on occupation, educational background and prior governmental experience. Click here for Andrade. Click here for Biscoe. Click here for Causey. Click here for Crocker. Click here for Lehman. Click here for Low. Click here for McMorran. Click here for Nielson. Click here for Yoder.
In addition, the Benton County Voters’ Pamphlet is available here.
This is the final of five questions asked of the candidates. Each candidate was allowed no more than 200 words for each individual answer with no exceptions. Answers were edited only for punctuation and typos and to conform to newspaper style guidelines (abbreviations, capitalization, etc.).
Many in the community believe that the candidates have associated themselves with certain other candidates whether it’s through advertising, yard signs or other means. What are your thoughts on these perceived alliances, including the pros and cons of this election strategy?
NIELSON: In regard to political alliances, perhaps the more pertinent question is why would these particular alliances exist. Respecting differing points of view, honoring diversity and promoting inclusion are vital characteristics of ethical leadership, but equally important is effective, respectful, collaborative governance. And this is precisely what has been lacking in our city government. The truth of the matter is that the experiences of the past have created a need for change that will only be fully accomplished in an environment of mutual respect, effective collaboration, improved communication and teamwork.
Collaborative governance allows for a clearer understanding of complex problems and encourages individuals to work together cooperatively to find solutions. It encourages innovation, improved communication, efficiency in decision making, reflective listening and learning from each individual’s unique life experiences to the betterment of our city. It nurtures an environment of moderation and unity through meekness, patience, kindness and respect.
We engage less in doubtful disputations, distrust and personal agendas and more in finding
solutions that will lead to fulfilling common goals and promote unity. Some may view unity as
exclusionary, but that is incorrect. Unity embraces, validates and empathically appreciates
differences of opinion and facilitates change through effective teamwork.
LEHMAN: I am not excited about this trend. I believe that each candidate should be evaluated on their own merits and support given to those individual candidates that best align with each voter’s values.
However, I am not concerned that there is any threat of improper governance as a result of this trend. I do not believe that any two candidates agree 100% on every issue that comes before the council, nor do I believe that they should.
I know that the city has two major construction projects anticipated to break ground this fall and that millions and millions of our dollars are going to be spent on these projects. Every candidate running for City Council wants the best outcome from these projects, but I do not believe that every candidate has demonstrated a willingness to work collaboratively with city staff and the City Council to ensure the successful, timely and economical completion of these projects.
BISCOE: While it would be difficult to speak for the beliefs of the community, I support freedom of expression of the candidates in this local government election. I believe the council will be strongest when voters consider the experience, integrity, voting record, public engagement and character of each of the candidates that are running and then make their own decision on which candidates they choose to represent their interests on the council.
The best city councils are filled with diverse and independent candidates that are inclusive of a broad range of opinion, experience, skills and knowledge, each bringing unique perspectives making sure all voices are heard and not just special interests. This richness of diversity and experience allows for meaningful deliberation on decisions that impact the city and will best serve Philomath where a single alliance of voices or any exclusion of others by design will not.
In this race I support a full slate of seven diverse candidates for council based not on any alliance, but on each candidate’s merit and their ability to objectively serve the interests of all of Philomath.
MCMORRAN: Honestly, this is my biggest issue with this campaign season. I’m running for City Council simply because I love this town and I believe I can serve our community well – I am not running to “beat” anyone else. Factionalism only divides our community and impedes progress on important issues that, quite frankly, should not be controversial in the first place.
I am honored to be supported by several other candidates, and I appreciate their support and their hard work. I absolutely wish them luck on their campaigns as well. But I want to make it abundantly clear that I look forward to working in a constructive, positive manner with whomever wins. Every candidate in this race has something to bring to the table as long as we can all listen to and respect one another.
This is Philomath — we’re a small community, a city of volunteers and a city that gets things done. This type of race should not become a political playground. I certainly am not interested in squabbles or personal differences that get in the way of delivering positive results and excellent city services for our community.
CAUSEY: In an election requiring voters to make multiple choices among a group of candidates, I am often asked “Who else should I vote for?” I’m sure the same is true for any candidate in this race. Why not make the answer clear and readily available? I would certainly not align myself with someone unless I were confident I could work with them. I feel very fortunate to have such a group of individuals who are willing to step up and serve the community.
Nonetheless, in my experience, Oregonians are very independently minded. I may have a preference for certain candidates, but I am sure the voters will decide for themselves how to mark their ballot.
CROCKER: I agree that alliances have been made. I have known several candidates for years, with Philomath’s best in mind. There is not one that I would not trust to make good decisions for Philomath. Even when we disagree, we still have Philomath’s best interest at heart, different perspectives make stronger decisions. I think alliances can be a help.
I have met citizens that don’t know who is on City Council or which candidates share their values. They have asked me. After several such inquiries, I thought it best to put the names together. I feel strongly about this alliance but do not imply that others feel as I do.
Many voters want to inform themselves on each candidate and choose for themselves, perfect! For those who would prefer not to spend that time, our cards and signs can be a starting point. I have no knowledge of the alliance that does not include me, clearly they meet and are aligned — their signs are placed together in a row. They certainly have the right to do this — part of the democratic process. A council is tasked with working together, being professional and working with all. I am up to the task.
YODER: It is a personal choice by a resident to display multiple signs in their yard; they are showing their support for a candidate and trying to encourage you to vote for that person. I believe that a yard sign, which offers no information about the candidates yet has multiple names of candidates, can easily be perceived as an alliance. In essence, it’s stating “I will only work with these people.”
All of us, at one time or another have had to work with people we don’t like or don’t agree with. I find it disturbing, and precedent setting, that a sitting mayor will list names of the people he chooses to work with on the council. As I’ve stated previously, it’s important that the council be made up of individuals with different perspectives instead of a body with a “like-minded” majority. A City Council that is made up of varied viewpoints will better serve the community as a whole.
ANDRADE: I am campaigning as an individual City Council candidate. I am also working with several other council candidates to help each of us get our information seen by community members. We are doing this by sharing space on a printed document, which allows us to be more environmentally friendly while minimizing individual campaign costs.
Speaking for myself, I chose to campaign separately yet together with these individuals, because I want our community members to know that my statements and decisions as city councilor are solely based on the information available to me, community input, and what I believe will benefit our entire community. I wanted to make sure that I did not give any impression of prioritizing the thoughts of specific councilmembers over my duties as a city councilor.
My record and statements as a city councilor have proven that I work collaboratively with others. I promise to continue to think critically about business that comes before the council and to prioritize the well-being of our entire community regardless of who is elected to council.
LOW: There appear to be two candidate groupings, as reflected above. However, the association I am identified with is based on signage. If there is anything else going on, I am not aware of it.
My participation with other candidates is agreeing to include my name on a slate sign and choosing to post my campaign sign near others whom I personally support. That is the extent of any election strategy I know about.
Since I assume there is nothing more than what I describe above, I don’t see sign grouping or a slate sign being different from any other election where, for various reasons, there is an affinity or not among those running for office.