City News

Julie Hoy will challenge Chris Hoy as Salem’s mayor

Salem City Councilor Julie Hoy announced Tuesday that she will run for mayor in 2024 against incumbent Chris Hoy, setting up a competition between two city leaders who share the same last name but are often at odds over city spending and public safety. 

Councilor Hoy said she chose to run because she believes Salem is in crisis.

“I see things differently, maybe because I’m a business owner and a mom, but I feel a tremendous amount of need for public safety and a sense of security that I believe is missing,” she said. “And that will be hard for me to do anything about from a minority position on council.”

She represents ward 6, in east Salem, which Chris Hoy represented before being elected mayor in 2022. The two are not related.

Julie Hoy said that the payroll tax was a major reason she chose to run, and where she showed she is consistent in her messaging and decisions when she felt the city was not giving voters enough information about plans.

She was one of four councilors who voted in July against imposing a tax without sending it to voters, and tried unsuccessfully to repeal the tax ahead of the November election after voters referred the measure to the ballot.

Voters rejected the tax decisively, with 82% opposed.

“I found that (payroll tax process) uncomfortable,” she said. “And then to spend money on advertising before voters gathered enough signatures to get on the ballot,” referring to the $75,184 the city spent to print and mail a double-sided informational mailer about the tax in August. “The whole thing was very awkward and uncomfortable.”

Hoy said that her accomplishments as councilor include stepping in by helping clean up garbage left by campsites and helping a family get an accessible sidewalk in front of their house for their child.

“Hearing people and following through on what we can do for them is most important to me,” she said.

She said her priorities as mayor would be to improve public safety, support the Salem Housing Authority’s efforts to add affordable housing and encourage small business development through improving the permit and building development process. She said she wants to see the city’s efforts toward finding revenue options to include discussions of the budget as a whole.

Her entry into the race will mean a lively campaign. Though council races are theoretically nonpartisan, they’ve become functionally partisan affairs in recent years, with liberal and progressive groups backing Chris Hoy’s mayoral campaign in 2022. Julie Hoy’s council bid the same year earned support from real estate and business interests.

The incumbent has filed to keep his seat and a third candidate, Michael Lee, has also filed to run for mayor. He is unemployed and was the former owner of All State Installations, an office furniture installation business, according to his filing form.

The two Hoys have at times butted heads in council meetings, most frequently over city budget and revenue options. In June, Julie Hoy was one of two votes on the council against adopting the city’s annual budget, which included an increase in the monthly fee charged to customers on their utility bills.

“I believe we should be making sacrifices and not reaching for more money,” she said.

Mayor Hoy pushed back.

“If, in the future, you’re not satisfied with the budget as approved to this point, you’re always welcome to make motions to amend it, and we would have that discussion and go from there,” he said. “Not having a budget isn’t an option. We’re required by law to have a balanced budget, tonight is literally the deadline, the last time we can adopt the budget.”

The council voted on Monday to approve the formation of a revenue task force, managed by consultants Moss Adams, that will seek new revenue options to put to voters in the November 2024 election.

Councilors approved the formation of the task force in a 8-1 vote, with Julie Hoy being the only vote in opposition.

“Why is this a revenue task force? That just says you’re still in the camp that we need more money and we need to get it no matter what, and you’re still driving that we’re going to lose public safety. I find that unacceptable,” Hoy said.

Mayor Chris Hoy has filed to run for another term, and said he plans to knock on doors again during the campaign.

“Helping people, listening to folks, but that’s what I do pretty much every day so it’s not that different than being mayor,” he said. “This is a job about relationships and listening and working with people, and helping them solve problems.”

Chris Hoy said Tuesday he didn’t have any comments on Julie Hoy’s announcement. He said that since being elected mayor in 2022, he is most proud of his work to add housing projects, micro shelter communities and to bring commercial air service back to Salem.

“I feel like it’s a good start, and we’ve got more work to do,” he said.

He said that work includes improvements downtown and solving the city’s revenue problems. He also said work on the city’s upcoming transportation system plan will set up the city’s path for the next decade, and he’s looking forward to bringing a group together to address the city’s gun violence issues

The mayor’s seat and four city council seats representing wards 1, 3, 5 and 7 are up for election in 2024. City offices are nonpartisan and unpaid.

Julie Hoy’s ward 6 seat is not up for election. If she’s elected mayor, her council seat would become vacant, and a majority of the council could appoint a successor to serve the rest of her term, which ends Dec. 31, 2026.

Voters typically decide council and mayoral races during the May primary, though if no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters will appear on the general election ballot in November.

Councilors serve a four-year term, while the mayor serves two. Those elected in 2024 would take office in January 2025.

Council President Virginia Stapleton has filed for reelection representing ward 1, along with Celine Coleman, an epidemiologist with Linn County Public Health, has filed to run against her.

In ward 3, Councilor Trevor Phillips is not seeking reelection. Two candidates have filed to run: Nathan Soltz, the chief of staff for state Sen. Lew Frederick, a Portland Democrat; and Shane Matthews, a real estate agent with HomeStar Brokers. Phillips has endorsed Soltz.

In ward 5, just one candidate had filed: Hamadi Jackson, a community health outreach worker and current chair of the Salem Human Rights Commission. Councilor Jose Gonzalez has not filed for reelection.

Councilor Vanessa Nordyke has filed for reelection in ward 7 and has no opponents as of Tuesday.

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.