UPDATED: Candidates for Salem mayor to debate in public event at the Elsinore

UPDATE: 11:30 a.m. Thursday, March 14: Elections officials say Clifford Eiffler-Rodriguez did not submit the required number of signatures to get on the ballot for Salem mayor. He will not be on the ballot. The debate will now feature just two candidates.

Three candidates for Salem mayor will meet on stage in a public debate scheduled for Tuesday, April 30.

The free evening event will feature a panel questioning Clifford Eiffler-Rodriguez, Chris Hoy and Julie Hoy. Chris Hoy is the current mayor, seeking a second term. Julie Hoy, a local restaurateur, is serving on the Salem City Council. The Hoys are not related. Eiffler-Rodriguez, making his first run for public office, is a customer representative for a heating contractor.

The 90-minute debate is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at the Elsinore Theatre, 130 High St. S.E. Free tickets are needed and are available online.

The event is being conducted jointly by Salem Reporter and the Salem City Club. The candidates will be questioned by a panel of representatives from the news organization and the club.

“Providing a forum for candidates to explain their positions on issues and provide insight into the direction they want to lead ensures a more informed electorate and is core to our mission,” the club said in a statement.

Ballots for the city election are scheduled to go out May 1. Election Day is May 21 and the last day to register to vote in the May election is April 30.

“Voting for local, state, and national leaders is a critical citizen responsibility and the foundation of our democracy,” the city club statement said.

Les Zaitz, Salem Reporter editor, said the debate is intended to give voters more information about a consequential election.

“Salem faces many challenges at the moment,” Zaitz said. “Voters deserve to hear directly how the candidates view the community and what solutions they would pursue.”

The event will be broadcast live by Capital Community Media.

Chris Hoy is seeking a second term, having taken office as mayor in November 2022. He previously served on the Salem City Council after he retired from law enforcement, finishing his career as undersheriff in the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

Julie Hoy has lived in Salem 30 years and served on the city council since 2022. Since 2017, she and her husband have owned Geppetto’s Italian Restaurant.

Clifford Eiffler-Rodriguez works for Roth Home, a heating and air conditioning contractor. In 2023, the city of Salem paid him $25,000 to settle a federal lawsuit in which he accused police of using excessive force during a protest in 2021. His place on the ballot and participation in the debate is contingent on officials verifying his election petition, submitted on Tuesday, March 12.

Disclosure: Larry Tokarski, a founder and an owner of Salem Reporter, is a contributor to Julie Hoy’s campaign. He is not involved in news coverage produced by Salem Reporter.

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Les Zaitz is editor and CEO of Salem Reporter. He co-founded the news organization in 2018. He has been a journalist in Oregon for nearly 50 years in both daily and community newspapers and digital news services. He is nationally recognized for his commitment to local journalism. He also is editor and publisher of the Malheur Enterprise in Vale, Oregon.