Chane Griggs steps into Salem mayor’s race

Chane Griggs, Rotary Club of Salem president, left, and Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett applaud at the dedication on Friday, July 23, 2021 of the Gerry Frank | Salem Rotary Amphitheater in Riverfront Park. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

A prominent community leader is throwing her name in the race for Salem’s soon-to-be vacant mayoral seat.

Chane Griggs, president of the Rotary Club of Salem and the city’s planning commission, told Salem Reporter Tuesday that she intends to run for mayor.

Griggs sits on the city’s planning commission and is retired from the Oregon Community Foundation as a regional director and philanthropic advisor. She’s lived in the Salem area since 1977. 

“I’ve always had a passion for government and how it works, whether it be in my volunteer capacity or my professional capacity,” she said. “I knew I would, at some point, feel like I needed to step up and run for either city council or for the mayor.”

Griggs decided to run after hearing Mayor Chuck Bennet’s recent announcement that he doesn’t plan to seek a fourth term.

She also said prior obligations are beginning to wind down, as her term as president of the Rotary Club ends June 30, 2022, and two projects she has been heavily involved in through the Salem Planning Commission – the Our Salem Task force and Climate Action Plan Task Force – are now in front of the city council.

Just one candidate, union organizer Hollie Oakes-Miller, has taken the step of filing with the Salem City Recorder’s office to enter the race. Oakes-Miller unsuccessfully ran against Councilor Jose Gonzalez for the Ward 5 city council seat in 2020

The filing deadline is March 8, with a primary election May 17. Griggs has not yet filed but said she intends to do so in January. The office is nonpartisan.

When asked what she would offer as mayor, Griggs pointed to her past work as an assistant director for the Oregon Department of Corrections, working with donors through Oregon Community Foundation, and her experience on the planning commission.

“I do feel like I have the ability to bring people together and kind of cut through the chase and get to the crux and get to a solution that’s kind of in the middle of the road,” she said.

Griggs said homelessness is a high-priority issue for Salem residents, and a common mistake is that the homeless population is often lumped together as one. 

“The easier solution is the one that we already are doing, which is moving some of the population into transitional housing, and then on to more permanent housing. But the Gordian knot we still have not figured out is how to manage the co-occurring disorder population, how to manage their addiction issues that really compound their homeless problem,” she said. “So, that’s a discussion on how do we bring services? How do we get that population to want to access those services in a meaningful way?”

Two other city issues Griggs said are on her radar are congestion with people commuting from other areas of Marion and Polk counties, and livability of downtown Salem.

“We all want that,” she said. “We’ve got to figure out how to continue to inspire people to want to open up their business and live downtown, in addition to retaining those that have already chosen to make Salem a better place by doing that.”

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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