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Mannix & Thatcher come up short for Keizer
Unexcused absences, culture war distractions bear cost for Keizer community
One immutable law of American politics - you bring money home to your district.
It’s a dirty and inefficient process and, often, not fair or equitable. But it’s the simplest way to show your constituents that you were worth the vote. Skilled politicians, or those with the advantage of operating from the majority position, accomplish far more.
But, at the bare minimum, you show your constituents you are capable of returning public funds to the community for projects they care about.
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But two extremely experienced state legislators from Keizer, with a combined 30+ years experience, failed to meet even that lowest bar of representation.
Oregon State Senator Kim Thatcher and Representative Kevin Mannix, both Keizer Republicans, were asked by city officials in Keizer in the past few months to advocate for several hundred thousand dollars in capital project state funding.
Mannix was tasked with securing funds to finish an artificial turf project at Keizer Rapids.
Thatcher was asked to bring back several thousand dollars for a project to enrich frequent benefactors of Keizer’s current administration - the Volcanoes Stadium and its owners, the Walker family.
(Both listed on page 19 of this April 3, 2023 Keizer City Council meeting agenda)
Neither Mannix nor Thatcher delivered.
You can browse through the list of projects funded here, with capital projects listed on page 22. Keizer isn’t even so much as mentioned in the entire document, which means none of the funds Keizer residents pay to the state came back to fund our community.
Normally, those representing rural areas of Oregon bemoan the lack of resources in the Christmas tree bill. But this time we’ve got two seasoned lawmakers representing districts that are minutes from the State Capitol building in Salem. And they failed. Like, spectacularly.
So, what happened? How could Mannix & Thatcher fail so badly?
It’s really not that complicated.
Thatcher refused to show up for work for almost the entire session - even AFTER the Oregon Senate GOP-led walkout ended.
Not only is there a credible argument to be made that Thatcher isn’t actually in Keizer very much, but she seemed to spend the entire 2023 session indulging in an array of conspiracy theories and far-right dog-whistles.
From just her June constituent newsletter in response to ending the walkout, Thatcher emitted the following stench, echoing a session’s worth of ranting:
“Make no mistake about it, (the Democrats) are still after our children.”
“The Democrats still want total power over every position of government and every role of families in this state. They want every lawabiding citizen disarmed.”
“They have been taking steps every Session to ultimately reach their goals, all while selling their masked agenda to the unaware public through mainstream media – a convenient arm of the Democrat Party.”
And this doozy (emphasis added):
“Pay closer attention to the words being said and what is being printed in the way of ‘information.’ Watch for their ‘buzz’ words. Nothing is as it used to be. Definitions have changed and nothing in reality is what they want you to think it is. We’re now in a world of good vs. evil where we’re being told that good is evil and evil is good. Please don’t buy into that.”
And when Thatcher’s GOP colleague effectively ended the legislative walkout and enough of them returned to their jobs, she turned her ire on them (emphasis added):
“On June 15, some Republican Senators made the decision to provide a quorum to the Democrats through negotiations a lot of us disagreed with. To most of us Senate Republicans, it felt like a surrender to the Democrats….”
Of course, none of that posturing and infighting does anything for her “hometown” constituents in Keizer. And Thatcher’s unexcused absences render her ineligible to run again, thanks to the people of Oregon insisting their elected state reps actually show up for work (via Measure 113).
(Ed. note: If anyone feels like we shouldn’t have to wait that long to rid ourselves of this dead weight, it would take around 6,500 signatures to hold a recall election for her seat.)
At least Mannix showed up for work, right?
Sure. But Mannix, before he was hospitalized halfway through the session, was far more focused on servicing his donors & fueling culture war issues that placate a shrinking minority of his most extreme constituents.
Much of Mannix’s work output this session was aimed at widening opportunities for his chums in the criminal justice industry, and advancing legislation that would funnel increased public funding to prisons.
Repealing automatic voter registration (died in committee)
Creates a new type, harsher of punishment for retail theft (died in committee)
Creates crime of disorderly conduct involving a family or household member (died in committee)
Recriminalizing drugs (died in committee)
Regresses back to only accepting ballots received by election date (died in committee)
Making it easier for landlords to terminate some leases (died in committee)
Repeals provisions of paid family and medical leave insurance program (died in committee)
Notice a parenthetical trend with Mannix’s legislative attempts?
Mannix did have one legislative victory this session, though!
He was able to reshape the future of his district and bring new opportunity to his constituents by…removing the “deadline by which City of Pendleton must apply to Land Conservation and Development Commission to become part of affordable housing pilot program.”
Wait…that has nothing to do with his constituents in Keizer or Salem. Pendleton is great, and it’s probably amazing that they no longer have to meet this affordable housing pilot deadline. But it would have been wonderful for our own Representative to actually, y’know…represent US!
Mannix also took it on the chin in a powerful piece written by Julianne Jackson and Danita Harris in the Oregon Capital Chronicle in May 2023.
The pair took to the opinion page to register their disappointment with Mannix in his relentless material support of criminal justice policies that strengthen the carceral state. In this case, Jackson and Harris were lamenting Mannix using minority populations as the reason he opposed Senate Bill 581 - a measure that would allow reductions in criminal justice supervision for those meeting goals.
From their piece in the Oregon Capital Chronicle (emphasis added):
“We must push back when our representative, Kevin Mannix, doubles down on incarceration and its racist outcomes while claiming to be concerned about the well-being of crime victims of color. We need to speak out when he defends Measure 11 mandatory minimum sentencing laws that have decimated our communities. When he says it’s on our behalf that he opposes Senate Bill 581, a moderate reform to lower supervision time for people who are successful and meeting their goals, we need to be clear: He is not helping us. In fact, he is advocating for a system that is hurting us, our families and our communities….
“We do not consent to having our identities leveraged by Mannix to push policies that hurt our communities. We do not consent to having our bodies and lives be used to oppose legislation that would help us. Do not use our existence against us.”
Not great. By chasing ideological whims and serving his friends in industry, Mannix seems unable to do the bare basics to actually represent his constituents.
So what of the two capital funding requests from Keizer City Council?
Earlier this year, in an April 2023 City Council Meeting, Keizer elected officials announced their intention to file a pair of requests to our state reps.
From the April 3, 2023, City Council agenda documentation:
With no state funding secured by either Mannix nor Thatcher, it’s unclear the fate of these two projects.
The Volcanoes project was meant to replace playing surfaces and install better lighting - two upgrades that would enrich the owners of the facility, but the benefit to the city remains unclear. That request was ultimately sent to Thatcher’s office.
Whereas the Keizer Rapids project - with request sent to Mannix - would actually benefit the people of Keizer. Based on Keizer records, officials were seeking $750k in state capital projects funding for the project - or about 12% of the total estimated $6.5 million cost. As it stands, without the state funding or help from Mannix - the project appears to be around $2 million short.
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