Thursday, October 11, 2018

Measure 104 - Vote NO! - Encourage Fiscal Responsibility

This may be one of the hardest measures to decide on during this election, but I believe we should vote against it.

The essential purpose of this measure is to use an amendment to the Oregon Constitution to make it harder to raise taxes, and that might not sound like the worst thing. However, once you examine the impact of that change, it seems clear that this would not be a move in the right direction. Currently, our legislators must acquire a 2/3 majority when raising taxes or fees to generate revenue, but if legislators eliminate additional burden by reducing revenue in other areas, only a simple majority (more than half) is required.

The impact here is obvious. Under our current system, legislators are encouraged to find ways to fund the state that don't increase the overall burden to taxpayers. If this measure passes, that incentive is wiped away, and our state will have little reason to make efforts to reduce spending when introducing new expenditures.

Ultimately, I believe that Measure 104 will result in increased tax burdens on Oregonians, and reduce accountability of our legislators. Neither is a good thing for Oregon. I recommend you vote NO on Measure 104.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Measure 103 - Vote NO! - Unnecessary Constitutional Amendment

Measure 103 would create tax loopholes that will not benefit the people of Oregon. It would be a dangerous precedent that creates different levels of tax liability based upon what type of products are sold by a business, and permanently locks in tax rates for multi-billion-dollar corporations, and it would embed that into the Oregon Constitution. Never in our entire nation has such an amendment been created, and it doesn't make sense here.

Legal experts believe, if the measure is approved, that many current taxes would become unconstitutional and be repealed. These include the fuel tax, healthcare funding, and the bottle bill. This would lead to more recyclables being dumped into our landfills, and create a funding crisis that would undermine road maintenance and result in massive job losses.

Part of Measure 103 is an attack on healthcare funding, and if it passes, many senior citizens and low-income families will lose what little healthcare coverage they have now. There has never been an Oregon state tax on groceries, and that will not change regardless of whether this measure is approved or not. I urge you to vote NO on Measure 103, as do a long list of organizations including the Oregon Environmental Council, AARP Oregon, AFL-CIO, and the American Cancer Society.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Measure 102 - Vote YES! - Support Affordable Housing

Voting YES on Oregon Measure 102 will empower voters to decide how funds are used, and enable Hillsboro the possibility to obtain additional funding for housing without cost to taxpayers.

I urge you all to support this effort to address the housing crisis. The issue of Oregon Measure 102 addresses a problem which restricts the use of bond revenue. Affordable housing built using bond revenue, under the current laws, must be owned by the government without accepting any private contributions. The measure was unanimously approved by the Oregon House of Representatives, but it requires a public vote to become law. Passing 102 would allow Hillsboro to accept additional funding from developers or investors, to combine those funds with bond revenue, resulting in the potential for much greater funding available to address the housing crisis in our city.

Both of the leading candidates for Governor support this measure, along with many other groups including AARP Oregon, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters of Oregon, Oregon AFSCME, and Oregon Education Association. If approved, we as voters will be allowed to approve or deny proposals for housing, and the resulting construction projects will create additional funding, jobs, and opportunity for Oregonians.

Please support this effort to solve the housing crisis in Hillsboro, and support a powerful free-market under the power of the people, by voting YES on Measure 102 in November.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Last Night's Forum with LULAC and LWV

We are 32 days from Election Day, and for those who couldn't make it to last night's forum event, I wanted to share some of what was discussed. The event was co-sponsored by the League of United Latin American Citizens and the League of Women Voters, and hosted by Luis Nava. I was seated between other City Council candidates and Senator Chuck Riley. Janeen Sollman and Susan McLain provided some great comments about education and healthcare. I will revisit those questions raised by concerned citizens, since I know they are likely to be on your mind as well.

The first question was to inquire about an apparent lack of funding and opportunity for Talent and Gifted (TAG) students in our public schools. Many people pointed out that this was outside the purview of City Council and in some ways the state, as federal funding for education has specific mandates which give the schools little flexibility in how to allocate their spending. However, this is a subject that our school board and state legislators are working on. Most of the candidates, myself included, believe that our schools must provide opportunities for all our students.

The second questions was to ask what Hillsboro will or should do to provide resources for people of color. One of the key strengths of our city is our diversity and our multicultural nature, and I believe that we can do more. The approach of the city toward diversity seems to stem from a top-down approach where the needs of people from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds are praised but not truly represented. Other candidates disagreed, or thought that just going into the community to talk to people was enough. I know, from first hand experience, that getting involved and running for office is a challenge that most people cannot afford the time or financial costs to obtain. I also know that citizens do not need to be elected city servants to bring meaningful ideas to the city. I believe the next step is to create citizen advisory groups. I am inspired by the employee resource groups at my place of work, Oregon Health & Science University, where I serve as part of the leadership of our Veteran Employee Resource Group. These groups do not require formal membership, and offer opportunities for anyone who identifies as a member or ally of that group to participate in a collaborative process to discuss possible actions the university might take to improve conditions to address the diverse needs of our workforce. I see no reason why this approach would not be similarly successful in Hillsboro. This would empower City Council to make informed and impactful decisions based upon the knowledge provided from these advisory groups, without requiring massive sacrifices or challenges to those who want to participate.

The next question was particularly challenging, and hit me hard emotionally. This citizen told us how she had to return to work out of retirement to acquire healthcare coverage, and that healthcare costs were still having disastrous effects on her family, and wanted to know what the local government could do and what candidates' believed about the issue. As pointed out by our state legislative candidates, the problem is a federal level one that we cannot fully handle on the state or local level. However, I stated my strong conviction that we should not and cannot wait for the federal government to fix this problem. People need help now, and we need to do everything we can to find alternatives locally. I shared how the Knight Cancer Institute is creating research opportunities for researchers, providing funding and freedom from the grant process, so our scientists and doctors can focus on finding treatments and seeking a cure, rather than getting bogged down in fiscal concerns. This is being done at no cost to patients nor taxpayers, through the generosity of people like Phil Knight. I think we need to work with our partner and allies in the healthcare community to find ways that we might accomplish similar resources for people with healthcare and mental healthcare needs here in Hillsboro.

The last question was one that I was anticipating, and it involved campaign financing. State candidates had varying views, but every one of them believed that the system needed to be improved. I believe that our governmental system of a two-party system is fundamentally broken and fails to fairly represent the needs of our diverse country. I believe we need to continue our state and federal legislators to find a way to make the system more fair. Here in Hillsboro, I believe that we need to fight against the growing assumption that vast amounts of money should be spent on political campaigns. I have not accepted a single dollar to date, and I don't expect to do so. I believe that the soggy wet pamphlets of my opponent, which litter the ground of my neighborhood, are wasteful. I do not believe that people will vote for candidates because they saw their name on a sign along the road. There is no evidence whatsoever that road signs actually impact voters in any significant amount. I hate that so many signs and non-recyclable glossy cards will end up in our landfills, and I refuse to participate in that sort of disregard for our natural resources. Spending thousands of dollars on campaigns for City Council is absolutely unnecessary and disgusting. I do not believe your vote can be bought, and I have faith in our democratic process and our voters to make their decisions based on facts and candidate stances. I hope that you will vote for me, to prove that your vote cannot be bought. I want to demonstrate the power of our voters, despite the money poured into local politics, and provide encouragement for more people to step up and engage in civic service. Also, I think that the financial costs to publish candidate statements in our voter pamphlet is a deterrent to those who do not have the personal wealth to fund a campaign, and we should find a better way to open participation in our government to all people with a passion for public service.

I very much appreciated the time to speak with these folks last night, and I hope to see you at a future event!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Money in Politics

Money in politics is dangerous. Special interests and wealthy contributors skew the direction of our public policy in ways that do not represent the needs of our community. During a presidential debate in 2016, Bernie Sanders said, “To my mind, if we do not get a handle on money in politics and the degree to which big money controls the political process in this country, nobody is going to bring about the changes that (are) needed in this country for the middle class and working families.” I cannot express loudly enough how much I agree with this sentiment. Nothing is a more egregious example of this than the frightening trend of candidates at the level of local government who insist that campaigns cannot be successful without massive fundraising efforts. I reject the assumption that your vote can be bought. Half of the current Hillsboro City Council candidates do not intend to spend over $750. I am committed to a conservationist campaign. I refuse to load landfills with plastic and metal political signs. I am asking for votes, not donations. Please join me to support working families, local farms, and our city. I’m a public servant, not a politician, and I am here to serve you. You can reach me by email, at eric@muehter.org, or on Twitter @ericmuehter.
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Enjoying a bass jam session with my daughter

Monday, August 27, 2018

Getting Involved

Eric and Roslyn at the Washington County Fair, 2018
Eric and Roslyn at the Washington County Fair, 2018


Today, I'm formally announcing my intention to become more involved in our community in the City of Hillsboro. Our city is a beautiful and diverse place, where the joys of nature and vibrant agriculture meet modern technology and innovation, and I love living here. I chose to make my home in Hillsboro after the end of my military service, and this is where my wife and I started our family. I believe this city is a beautiful example of the world in which we want to raise our daughter, and I am dedicated to serving the city to ensure its ongoing prosperity for my family and for our neighbors. As we face challenges in response to rapid growth, I hope to contribute toward shaping the future of our city while maintaining the history and charm that makes Hillsboro an inviting and inclusive home for all.

I have lived in Hillsboro since 2005, following the completion of my service in the United States Navy. I currently work as a Field Technology Analyst at Oregon Health & Science University, and I volunteer as the President of the Board of Directors for the Jones Farm Owners Association here in Hillsboro, representing owners and residents of our 470 beautiful homes. I have formerly served as an elected member of the Executive Board of AFSCME Local 328 which represents the majority of the OHSU workforce, and I am actively involved with the OHSU Veterans Employee Resource Group. I earned my bachelor's degree from Portland State University and my associate's degree from Portland Community College.

As an enlisted military veteran, I served with Navy and Marine Corps units in Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and I find myself drawn toward ongoing community service. I am frequently humbled by the unending passion displayed by my fellow veterans who continue their service to our nation and our community, such as my brothers and sisters of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and they inspire me to do more. Like my grandfather, I am a proud union worker, so I know that the foundation of this nation has always been built - literally and figuratively - by the workers and laborers of our communities. I am devoted to protecting the rights of individuals, and I will take action to ensure the safety and prosperity of all people.

I believe that Hillsboro represents the greatest facets of our country, and I want to be part of the bright future of our city. That is why I have decided to seek your support to join the City Council of Hillsboro. As I begin this endeavor, I plan to use this space to share my journey and my values with you, my neighbors. I hope to hear from you, to learn what issues are important to you, and I ask that you please reach out and make your voice heard.

I’m a public servant, not a politician, and I am here to serve you. You can reach me by email, at eric@muehter.org, or on Twitter @ericmuehter.

Measure 104 - Vote NO! - Encourage Fiscal Responsibility

This may be one of the hardest measures to decide on during this election, but I believe we should vote against it. The essential purpose ...