Oregonians reject two politicians after bike-unfriendly statements

Posted by on November 5th, 2014 at 10:54 am

“This picture is just way too awesome!” former
Milwaukie city council candidate Scott Barbur wrote on
Facebook in 2010.

Though many issues other than bikes were at play in two races decided last night, both will be familiar to many BikePortland readers.

In one of the races, donations from BikePortland readers seem to have been a meaningful factor in the outcome.

In Milwaukie, Portland’s neighbor to the south, voters overwhelmingly nixed Scott Barbur’s city council candidacy. Barbur, who took 47 percent of the vote in his previous 2012 run, was thumped with just 36 percent this time.

Among other issues in the race, Barbur drew national attention after opponents of his candidacy highlighted a 2010 post on his personal Facebook page in which he made light of a horrific photo of a fatal 2008 collision of a car with a whole pack of bikes. After a friend had criticized him for this, he had replied, “All I know is that this is the image that pops into my head every time I have to listen to bicyclists or deal with them on the road.”

After we covered the issue, Barbur apologized in an email, calling it “stupid childish banter on my part” and saying it “does not represent my attitude toward cyclists.”

Victorious Milwaukie council candidate Karin Power,
center. (Barbur is at left.)
(Photo: Power campaign)

In the comments beneath that post, BikePortland readers pledged at least $550 in donations to Barbur’s main opponent, Karin Power — part of the $1,060 in contributions she received on Oct. 1, state records show.

Power is a neighborhood association leader who called for “a revitalized downtown and neighborhood shops.” She cited better biking and walking connections around Milwaukie’s freeways as the first issue on her “priorities” page.

Power, whose total revenue for the campaign was $6,200, won with 53 percent of the vote. (Barbur had raised $4,500, state records show.) Brian Henderson took another 9 percent.

Kathy Goss
(Photo: Kathy Goss for Oregon/Facebook)

Meanwhile in Salem, voters more narrowly turned away Kathy Goss, a Republican candidate for state House in the 20th District who, when asked for specific ideas on how to reduce the budget of the Oregon Department of Transportation, used “bicycle lanes” as her first example.

“The state of Oregon is still in a recession,” she said. “We don’t need the fringe things right now.”

Goss’ Democratic opponent, Paul Evans, is the former mayor of Monmouth and an Air Force veteran. His campaign supported anti-sprawl “smart growth” measures and environmental protections such as carbon pricing.

Again, some BikePortland readers commented beneath that post that they’d donated to Evans. (He took in $625 in individual contributions that day, out of $183,000 over the course of the campaign.)

Evans won with 52 percent of the vote to Goss’s 48, making the 20th District one of a handful in Salem that flipped from Republican to Democratic control next year.

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30 Comments
  • kiel johnson
    kiel johnson November 5, 2014 at 11:43 am

    any update on Bike Walk Vote? haven’t heard anything from them this election

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    Matt November 5, 2014 at 11:59 am

    The type of non-profit status a group has determines if they can actively support a candidate or not.

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      naess November 5, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      a little thing like non-profit status never stopped the church from promoting candidates.

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    Nick November 5, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    My small contribution to Karin Power, spurred by the original BP article, was the first political donation I have ever made. While I still wrestle with the ethics of campaign donations, I felt justified in this situation given Scott Barbur’s tasteless comments. I hope Karen represents her district well.

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    Reza November 5, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Milwaukie had a great night, as two liberal-leaning candidates (Power and Lisa Batey) for City Council won handily over their respective conservative challengers. With a 4-1 liberal majority, it’s truly sad that the Milwaukie City Council is now more dynamic and progressive (along with Mark Gamba and Mayor Ferguson) than Portland’s can ever dream of being.

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      Jayson November 5, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      I’m really excited for Milwaukie now! It was so rough the last few years with David Hedges and most recently with Scott Churchill – both of which are ridiculously obstructionist. Hopefully this is a sign that the Clackamas County Board will turn over a new leaf in two years.

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      Todd Boulanger November 5, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      Yes, sad to say and becoming true…this speaks a lot about one of the values in living in smaller urbanizing cities where one can live car light and easily gain access to food, services, government and [some] jobs by bike versus larger model cities. Small cities with older core downtowns that revitalize with multimodal design are becoming more available after the “Portland’s” have tested design but have become too expensive or too large to be focused bike as transportation based city.

      This is one of the things I like about Vancouver…is its west side core as everything is reachable by bike in <2 miles…I just wish it had stayed a manageable 5 mile by 5 mile city (pop 50k) vs. the 15 mile by 5 mile (pop 165k) entity it became …and its loss of a greenbelt to the east when i205 came up from Oregon.

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      Pete November 5, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      I personally don’t like that bicycling has become associated with “liberal” and conservatives are often assumed to be ‘anti-bike.’ I don’t like this as much as I don’t like our two-party system that rarely demonstrates “bi-partisan cooperation” any more (so much so it makes news when it happens). I recognize that statistically it may be true, but there’s nothing I hate more than when someone assumes I ride a bike because I want to save the planet and I therefore obviously subscribe to global warming and voted for Obama and hate guns and so on and so forth. I get this kind of crap way more than I’d like to – it’s irrelevant if any of it is true or not – in my view it’s just a damned bike. There’s nothing I’d love more to see than both conservatives and liberals embracing how much it makes sense to enable it’s safe and prevalent use instead of making it a political symbol.

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        Reza November 5, 2014 at 5:38 pm

        I say “liberal” and “conservative” because Milwaukie’s elections are non-partisan (otherwise I would refer to them as Rs and Ds). And as far as the stereotype, it’s repeated a lot because it’s largely true. Can you name a prominent Republican (not even nationally, just in WA/OR politics) that’s fervently pro-active transportation? I’d love to know if they exist.

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        gutterbunnybikes November 5, 2014 at 7:12 pm

        Wear a white button down and tie and people will think you lean more conservative when you ride.

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          Pete November 6, 2014 at 8:44 am

          As long as it’s red and not a bow tie! 😉

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    Craig Harlow November 5, 2014 at 3:45 pm
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    nuovorecord November 5, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Karin, er, I mean Councilor Power(!!!) even sent me a nice hand-written thank you note to recognize my small donation to her campaign. So glad she won!

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      spare_wheel November 5, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      I got one too. So very glad she won.

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    Pete November 6, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Maybe Scott Barbur can restart his local political career by volunteering to make a difference here: http://www.milwaukieoregon.gov/police/public-safety-advisory-committee

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      Milwaukie Resident November 6, 2014 at 9:16 am

      The last thing the Milwaukie Public Safety Advisory Committee needs is another conservative who is only interested in raising money for another police dog. This year that committee has finally gotten 2 younger more active residents who ride bikes. They are working to get the rest of the committee thinking more about active transportation issues (which historically they have not done). After years of ‘no’ and ignoring active transport, things are starting to look good in Milwaukie.

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    Justin Carinci November 6, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Paul Evans has more can-do spirit than any politician I’ve observed up close.

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    Bike Rider in Milwaukie November 6, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Uggh, what a pain in th ass this whole thing became. I am just saddened that riding a bike has become a hot button political issue rather than the exciting, enjoyable thing we all get to do. I long for the days when you could commute to work and not have to be making a statement by doing so. I have loved biking and bikers for decades, but now it seems like its less about biking and more about being seen biking and what it represents. I think that its important to build advocacy for cycling not create a war zone against people who don’t or can’t ride bikes regularly. I don’t ride the bus, but I still support TRI-MET and those people who are transit dependent. Maybe we should take a step back and double check that the best way to build support for our community is by creating an “Us and Them” scenario.

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      Milwaukie Resident November 6, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      Hmm, I’m not really sure where you are getting the impression that riding a bike has become a hot button issue (especially in Milwaukie) or that there is a “Us and Them” scenario going on. BikePortland.org does not seem to be making it out like that in this story, and people of Milwaukie were free to advocate to their neighbors for candidates they thought would do the best job for ALL the residents. If bikes and an “Us and Them” vibe were really an issue, it would have come up at the candidates forum last month. It did not.

      Milwaukie’s infrastructure is laid out in such a way that makes most people dependent on cars to make sort trips. Things like highways and rail lines block up the safe and easy movement across town. Sidewalks and safe bike facilities are seriously lacking.

      The reality is that many younger families are moving to Milwaukie and want safer streets to walk and bike on, and they don’t want to drive kids to school or have their kids take a bus to school. These same people are starting to get involved in their neighborhood associations, PTA’s and at the planning and political level in town which is perhaps why you are noticing the conversation about bikes in town more than in the past. If you’ve ever attended a planning, NDA, or Council meeting in Milwaukie, you’d notice that they are generally attended & run by older residents who’s kids are out of the house or by people who don’t have kids (and often don’t relate to people with kids). Both of these types of people have a lot of free time to dedicate to meetings and they historically have been in the drivers seat when it comes to the direction of planning and politics in town. It has been this way for a long while, and sometimes planning decisions have been made much to the detriment of working families who don’t have time to go to meetings to speak up.

      Unfortunately Scott Barbur made a bad decision to post something disturbing on FB (which was available for anyone to see for over 3 years) and his campaign probably suffered as a result because it was brought to the attention of voters. Regardless of the Scott Barbur issue, things in Milwaukie are changing, and residents can either sit by, watch, and complain about the changes, or we can be part of shaping how these changes will affect Milwaukie for the foreseeable future.

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        Pete November 6, 2014 at 6:31 pm

        Great points. “…residents can either sit by… or we can be part of shaping how these changes will affect Milwaukie for the foreseeable future.”
        As I mentioned, looks like there are two current vacancies:
        http://www.milwaukieoregon.gov/police/public-safety-advisory-committee

        And yeah I was being a little facetious before. Thanks for your feedback and best of luck under your new leadership!

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        Bike Rider in Milwaukie November 7, 2014 at 11:01 am

        I think we are on the same page to be honest. I guess I failed at making my point clearly and I am sorry to those I offended. I was trying to make the case that we (being cyclists and drivers who live or work in Milwaukie) need to work together to make this a more bike-friendly place. I guess the reaction to my statement is what I mean by “hot-button”…..advocacy for bikes is more than just pounding fists, it’s about creating real dialog with all residents so everyone has a clear understanding of what’s being discussed. Whatever, I’ve said too much.

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          Pete November 8, 2014 at 8:19 pm

          Same page for sure, and certainly not me you’ve offended (if anyone).

          I’ve changed tactic through the years. I’ve worked on various tasks with my new city’s BPAC since I moved here in 2009, but my feeling is that our city is just going through the motions by having a BPAC with meetings which is just a checkmark in a box, for the most part. Though our success is incremental a few of us instead have been engaging with police representatives and city engineers by identifying hot-spots (for enforcement and improvements) and making recommendations, often by pointing to current legal and/or design standards and advising them of how real bicyclists and pedestrians (and motorists) actually use the facilities (i.e. use cases – that we often back with photos and video). Too much detail to get into here, but it takes the effort to get your name known to the right people as a collaborator and not the ‘squeaky wheel.’ Government moves so incredibly slowly it takes mounds of patience!

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          Matt- Bike Milwaukie November 9, 2014 at 10:06 am

          There is definitely more than “pounding fists” going on with cycling in Milwaukie these days. Two immediate examples are the 17th Ave project and the Monroe Street Neighborhood Greenway concept plan, both of which have opportunities for residents to get involved in the coming months and there have been very productive and collaborative conversations surrounding both projects in recent weeks/months. You can always call up one of the City Staff that is working on one of these projects and ask for a meeting where they can catch you up on the project and you can give some feedback.

          Also, as another commenter noted, there are open seats on the Public Safety Advisory Board which is a great place to plug in and build trust and relationships with other residents and city staff around bike and pedestrian issues and potentially make a huge difference.

          You can also get involved with you neighborhood association. The neighborhoods have typically had a lot of say in Milwaukie, and the more people who show up and build those relationships, the better off we’ll all be.

          Linnwood elementary school has been working with the Safe Routes to Schools folks and others to work toward better biking and walking routes for kids (which will also benefit all of us in the end).

          Lastly, Bike Milwaukie has been showing people around town (and beyond) for the last 4 years on their monthly bike rides, and we’ve been actively engaging people to show up to meetings and speak up in favor of safer infrastructure. Sure, we’ve been a bit vocal, but we’ve had to be at times to get things like the Monroe project moving forward.

          Get involved, there a plenty of places to plug in, build relationships and make a difference!

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    Trek 3900 November 8, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Quote: “Hmm, I’m not really sure where you are getting the impression that riding a bike has become a hot button issue (especially in Milwaukie) or that there is a “Us and Them” scenario going on.”

    Perhaps there is no “Us and Them” atmosphere in Milwaukie; but anyone reading the comments on this website could only conclude that the commenters have an intolerant “Us and Them” mentality. There is no other conclusion possible based on the published comments. Many of the comments on this site are absolutely hateful toward cars – perhaps Mr. Barbur had been reading this website and felt that bikers were “anti-everyone but bikers” – which would be a fair conclusion based on the comments. I suspect most bikers are not “anti-cars” since most bikers also use a car but perhaps those car-bikers don’t bother posting because they aren’t as fired up about bike issues.

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    Joe November 10, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Today had a car speed up as I was turning left as to make a point hey get out of my way because can run you down.. sad but some behind the wheel get waaaaaaaay aggro 🙁

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