By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
There is only one contested Keizer City Council race this year, but it’s providing some unexpected drama.
Three council seats and the mayoral seat are up this year. But of those four, three outcomes can be predicted with a high degree of certainty before the results are announced Tuesday night.
That’s because current councilor Cathy Clark is running unopposed to replace Lore Christopher as mayor. Former longtime city employee Roland Herrera is running unopposed for council as is former councilor Brandon Smith, whose write-in candidacy in 2012 fell short.
The only contested race is between former Planning Commission member Matt Chappell – who also ran in 2012 – and longtime community volunteer Amy Ripp.
Ripp has been the clear favorite all along, but there has been some excitement in the race lately. In the last two weeks, the Keizertimes has mentioned legal troubles for both Ripp and her business partner.
The real excitement, however, got going with Chappell’s letter to the editor about Ripp and her business partner, as well as two of her key endorsements.
“How long Lore Christopher and Kim Thatcher knew about these things, before they endorsed her, is something to consider when it comes to the validity of their endorsements,” Chappell wrote in part.
Smith posted a link to the letter on his Facebook page the afternoon of Oct. 24 and offered some commentary.
“Matt Chappell, a candidate for Keizer City Council, submitted a shameful letter to the Keizertimes this week,” Smith wrote. “I find it disturbing that he would attempt to drag the names of seven-term Mayor Lore Christopher and five-term state representative (and Senate candidate) Kim Thatcher through the proverbial mud in an obvious attempt to garner favor for his campaign.”
Smith concluded his post thusly: “These three women deserve an immediate and sincere apology from Mr. Chappell.”
Instead of apologizing, Chappell posted a comment the following day on Smith’s thread.
“I take it you are among the uneducated…..you should read the paper version of the Keizertimes this week…if you know how to read,” Chappell wrote. “Perhaps you are a strong supporter of Amy Ripp…..hmm. Do you believe that it’s alright to not pay your creditors?”
That led to a rebuke from Ripp’s younger son, as well as a new post by Smith with a screen shot of Chappell’s comments. Between Smith’s two posts, Chappell earned rebukes from three current councilors, including Jim Taylor.
“I’m disgusted with the type of smear campaign Mr. Chappell is engaged in,” Taylor wrote. “This is why it’s so difficult to get people to run for council. Shame on you Matt.”
This week, Chappell turned up the rhetoric. In addition to a number of posts on his Facebook page since Oct. 22, Chappell also sent e-mails to both the Keizertimes and the Statesman Journal this week. In the first, Chappell accused a city employee asking him to remove a campaign sign from public property in the Keizer Station area as interfering with the campaign and violating city code.
“This is a clear ethical violation by a city employee which clearly promotes my ‘opponent’ in this race,” Chappell wrote in part.
On Tuesday, Chappell sent an “all points bulletin” and said he tried to call out Ripp’s endorsements “but instead have received relentless attacks in defense of Amy Ripp’s campaign, such as one being waged by a candidate who has served on the City Council prior to this election.”
Chappell wasn’t done yet.
“I am trying to help our city to avoid a very costly decision when it comes to electing Amy Ripp to represent families throughout Keizer,” he wrote. “What is most disappointing is that most of the information of Amy appears to have intentionally been hidden from the public and is now being covered up by City Council members, as they try to malign my campaign.”
Other races or issues of note:
• Kim Thatcher against Ryan Howard for State Senate District 13.
• Bill Post against Chuck Lee for the House District 25 seat being vacated by Thatcher.
• Incumbent John Kitzhaber against Dennis Richardson for governor, a race that has gained national attention in recent weeks.
• Incumbent Kurt Schrader against Tootie Smith for U.S. Representative 5th District.
• Measure 90, which would allow the top two candidates to advance out of a primary election.
• Measure 91, which would legalize recreational marijuana in Oregon, following the leads of Washington and Colorado.
• Measure 92, which would require genetic engineering labeling on food.