Freedom Foundation

Unions Fail at Buying Salem-Keizer School Board

For too long, unions have been putting their noses, and more notably their money, into political races in hopes of buying government influence.

In spectacular fashion, their latest attempt to purchase three seats on the Salem-Keizer School Board was a miserable and expensive failure.

In the three contested races for Oregon’s second largest school board, unions pooled together a combined $64.5k to funnel into the progressive candidate’s campaigns.

Raul Marquez, a recent high school graduate and legislative intern for progressive Representative Diego Hernandez, was gifted about $4.5k directly from unions, which amounted to about 17% of his total contributions. Marquez was defeated by incumbent Marty Heyen who raised and spent less than half of Marquez.

David Salinas, a union electrician, was handed over $17k from his union compatriots, accounting for more than 47% of his total campaign contributions. In the battle for the only open seat, Salinas was defeated by Satya Chandragiri, a renowned psychiatrist.

Most notably was the defeat of the longest serving board member, Chuck Lee. Lee has been on the board since 2007 and has made several union pals throughout his service. So much so that they dumped over $42k into his reelection campaign, accounting for more than 67% of his total campaign contributions and making his the most expensive campaign of them all, raising and spending over $62k. Even still, Lee was swiftly defeated by Keizer Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Danielle Bethell, who raised and spent just $20k.

Over the last decade there has been a nationwide shift considering the importance of these nonpartisan seats from school boards all the way down to seats on fire and water boards. Liberals have begun using these positions as grooming grounds to raise up their next generation of regressive politicians. In some cases, these nonpartisan and non-salaried seats have cost more than state House or Senate races, and with essentially unlimited funds at their disposal, unions and the left generally have no trouble at all purchasing them.

Thankfully, that was not the case here in Oregon. After a year of the Freedom Foundation attacking the bottom line of the state’s largest unions, SEIU, AFSCME, and the OEA, it seems they decided to largely sit these races out; leaving it to the smaller and mostly private unions to take the reins.

Despite radically outspending their conservative counterparts, unions once again come up short in a post-Janus Oregon. Even with all that spending, the just weren’t able to sell their agenda to the public.