Oregon ballot takes precedence over presidential election

Eugene voters stress the importance of state measures in the upcoming election.

By WHITNEY GOMES

EUGENE, Ore. – Churchill residents discussed the implications of controversial measures on the 2012 Oregon ballot regarding legalization of marijuana, funding for public schools and privatization of casinos.

While the presidential election divides democrats and republicans, the state election is merging opposing parties; neighbors are voting for measures that benefit their community. State general fund revenue, public education funding and employment growth are all possible outcomes if Measures 80, 82, 83 and 85 pass on Nov. 6.

The Oregon Sheriff’s Political Action Committee claim that marijuana use among youth will increase if Measure 80, The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA), passes. The proposal seeks to legalize and regulate adult use – ages 21 and up – of cannabis (marijuana and industrial hemp).

“To me, marijuana is just like alcohol,” said Churchill resident Lucas Mericantante. “Should a 16-year-old being doing it? No. But should a 25-year-old be doing it? You know as long as he isn’t abusing it.” Mericantante is a registered republican and does not use marijuana.

Lucas Mericantante – “I’m a republican that believes in health care and education.”

Passing the measure would foster economic growth; OCTA states that “90 percent shall be credited to the state’s general fund to finance state programs.” The remaining net proceeds would go to drug education, treatment and hemp promotion.

Mericantante is voting “yes” on Measure 80 because of the revenue it would provide. Aside from economic growth, OCTA would establish cannabis dispensaries granting easier access for Oregon Medical Marijuana Plan (OMMP) patients.

Full time nanny and Obama supporter DeAnna Harrel is voting for “every democrat on the slate.”

“They should give us a source to get it [marijuana],” said Churchill resident DeAnna Harrell. “I’m an OMMP patient and I’ve had the hardest time finding someone to supply what is medicine.”

Measure 85 amends the constitution by allocating corporate income and excise tax (known as “kicker” refund) to fund K-12 public education.

“I vote democrat for everything,” Churchill resident Sherie Torralba said. As of July 2012, Lane County has 57 percent more registered democrats than republicans. Torralba is voting “yes” on Measure 85 – so is registered republican Mericantante.

Sherie Torralba plans on voting for President Obama – as she did in 2008.

“The only thing I’m really passionate about is the school,” he said. Mericantante said he believes in big business, but not big government.

On a national scale, Harrell said that military spending is taking precedence over our schools, and that students shouldn’t have to “sell cookie dough to keep music and athletic programs.”

“Our kids are out selling garbage to fund the schools when the price of one bomb, of one bomb, could transform Oregon schools. Harrell is not the only Churchill resident upset about excess military spending. Students like Kyle Giffin, a freshman at New Hope Christian College, feel the pressure of the economy as well.

“The recession, as a college student that’s what will effect me the most. I feel that a plan should be put in place not just for me but for everyone. Just take care of the country,” says Giffin.

Giffin has not been following the elections and doesn’t plan on voting for either presidents. He claims that both presidential candidates have “skirted around” important issues without saying what they would do once in office.

In mid-October, after spending more than $5 million in advertising, Oregon casino supporters abruptly suspended their campaign to pass Measures 82 and 83 – amending the constitution to authorize privately-owned casinos. The measures remain on the Oregon election ballot.

Harrell, who is also against the casino measures, claims that projects such as the casino that would to be built in Wood Village have a negative impact on our environment. She also doesn’t agree with the economic side of the measure.

“I think there are other ways for people to have jobs, other than facilitating a capitalist amusement – which is what I think gambling is.”

2012 Election Day is Nov. 6. Click here for the Oregon drop box locator to send your ballot in.

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