City News

VOTE 2023: What’s on your ballot for the May 16 election in Salem?

Salem-area voters will elect three new leaders to the Salem-Keizer School Board on May 16 who will help steer the school district through the next four years.

It’s a special district election this year for various local nonpartisan positions. Such elections address area needs like education, public safety, water and parks.

Ballots for both Marion and Polk county voters were mailed out this week and should arrive in mailboxes soon. 

What appears on the ballot will depend on where you live. Party registration doesn’t matter, since this election has no partisan votes on the ballot.

Here’s what you need to know about voting in this election:

What’s up for election in Salem?

This year, seats representing zone 2 in northeast Salem, zone 4 in southwest Salem and zone 6 in Keizer are up for election. All voters in the district can vote for all positions.

School board directors are unpaid volunteers who serve four-year terms. The positions are officially nonpartisan, but as in past elections, supporters and donors of the six declared candidates have come out along largely partisan lines.

To learn more about school board candidates’ positions on major issues facing the district as well as their major donors and supporters, you can read our questionnaires with candidates’ responses.

In the northeast Salem zone, Cynthia Richardson, a longtime Salem-Keizer School District principal and administrator who’s retiring at the end of the school year, is running against Casity Troutt, a parent and owner of Sherwood-based Elite Fleet Services Inc. who previously tried to recall three school board directors.

In the southwest Salem zone, psychiatrist and incumbent school board member Satya Chandragiri is seeking a second term against challenger Kelley Strawn, a Willamette University professor.

Krissy Hudson, a customer service representative at the state Department of Justice, and Larrry Scruggs, a retired University of Portland administrator and Salem-Keizer School District substitute teacher, are seeking the seat representing Keizer.

Four Chemeketa Community College Board seats are up for election, each with candidates running opposed:

  • Zone 1 (central and south Salem): Iton Udosenata,
  • Zone 3 (north Salem and Keizer): Neva Hutchinson
  • Zone 6 (Keizer, Woodburn and north Marion County): Diane Watson
  • Zone 7 (west Salem and Polk County): Betsy Earls

The board’s seats are zoned, so voters will see just one seat on their ballot.

Other Salem races appearing on ballots are the Salem Suburban Rural Fire Protection District (voters in Marion and Polk counties) and the Suburban East Salem Water District (just Marion County).

Polk County officials are asking voters to approve a new public safety levy taxing county residents 49.5 cents per thousand of assessed property value for five years starting Jan. 1, 2024. 

Residents would pay around $123 per year if their property has an assessed value of $250,000, a $17 increase from the existing levy.  The new levy would retain sheriff’s deputies and prosecutors hired in 2015 as an earlier public safety levy is set to expire.

Tips to be sure your vote counts

1. Fill out ballots in black or blue ink so the voting machine can easily read them. Election workers can and will count ballots even if it’s filled out in orange crayon, but it’s a ton of extra work for them which we can prevent.

2. The secrecy sleeve that comes with your ballot is optional, and votes will be counted whether the sleeve is used or not. But ballots need to be left in the return envelope with your name on it. Mistakes like putting two ballots in the same envelope or accidentally signing your roommate’s envelope, not yours, can cause your ballot to be challenged or rejected. A “naked” ballot dropped in a dropbox with no envelope won’t be counted.

3. Sign your ballot return envelope on the back on the marked line. This line is the only signature that matters – any writing on the ballot itself or the secrecy sleeve won’t be used to verify your identity. Return envelopes come pre-addressed with postage paid, so your ballot is ready to send back as soon as you sign it. 

4. As of last year, Oregon ballots count if they’re postmarked by election day, May 16, even if they arrive later. But late voters may want to use a county dropbox to make sure their vote is counted. Ballots submitted at a drop box need to be received by 8 p.m. on election night. To return your ballot, you can find a list of Marion County drop boxes here and Polk County here. Ballots are still counted if you drop them off in another county’s box.

5. Double-check that your ballot was received and counted by checking MyVote. If your ballot shows up as “challenged” or an issue is listed, call the county clerk’s office to address the issue.

6. If you get a piece of mail from the county elections office after the election, don’t ignore it. They’re likely trying to notify you about a questionable signature. Send back the form, show up in-person or call if you’re not sure what you need to do. You’ll have until June 7 to correct a signature issue, and your vote will be counted once you do so.

Where to learn more about what’s on your ballot:

VOTER GUIDES: Marion County, Polk County

There will be a forum on Friday at the Willamette Heritage Center with five candidates running for the three Salem-Keizer School Board seats. 

The event is scheduled for noon to 1:30, hosted by the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, Salem City Club and Keizer Chamber of Commerce. You can register online to attend the free event.

You can find interviews with school board candidates, information about special districts and how vote-by-mail works on Capital Community Media’s website.

More information about voting and candidates can also be found online for Marion and Polk counties.

Ballot drop boxes in Salem are located at:

Marion County Clerk – 555 Court St. N.E., Suite 2130

  • Open weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day 

Marion County Health – 3180 Center St. N.E.

  • Curbside dropbox open 24 Hours

Marion County Courthouse – 500 Block Court St. N.E.

  • Open Monday and Tuesday of Election week, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Marion County Public Works – 5155 Silverton Rd. N.E.

  • Open 8 to 5 p.m., 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day 

Walmart Parking Lot – 5250 Commercial St. S.E.

  • Open Monday and Tuesday of Election week, 6 AM – 8 PM

Roth’s Fresh Market (Vista) – 3045 Commercial St. S.E

  • Open every day 6 p.m. to  9 p.m, closing at 8 p.m. on election day

Roth’s Fresh Market (Sunnyslope) – 4555 Liberty Rd. S.

  • Open every day 6 p.m. to  9 p.m, closing at 8 p.m. on election day

Roth’s Fresh Market (Hayesville) – 4746 Portland Rd. N.E.

  • Open every day 6 p.m. to  9 p.m, closing at 8 p.m. on election day

Roth’s Fresh Market (West Salem) – 1130 Wallace Rd. N.W.

  • Open every day 6 p.m. to  9 p.m, closing at 8 p.m. on election day

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

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.