Local News That Matters

UPDATES: City warns of birch tree disease

April 14, 2022 at 2:39pm

Poll: Kotek leads Read in Democratic governor primary, many voters undecided

State Treasurer Tobias Read and former House Speaker Tina Kotek lead the Democratic primary field for governor. (Campaign photos)

Former House Speaker Tina Kotek leads state Treasurer Tobias Read in the Democratic primary for governor, but the majority of Democratic voters haven’t decided who to support, according to a poll released Thursday by the Read campaign.

Between April 7 and 11, California-based FM3 Research surveyed 653 registered voters who are likely to vote in the May 17 Democratic primary. It found that 25% would support Kotek, 20% would support Read and more than half have yet to make up their minds. 

Read the poll memo

The firm’s president, Dave Metz, said in a briefing with reporters Thursday morning that the poll showed a “wide open” race between Read and Kotek. Pollsters didn’t ask about the other 13 Democrats running for governor.

“Voters have been pretty late to engage in this race,” Metz said. “They just haven’t been paying very close attention so far, so there’s going to be a lot of activity over the course of these last couple of weeks.” 

County election offices will begin mailing ballots to registered Democrats on April 27, one day after the April 26 deadline to register to vote or choose a party. Voters can return their ballots by mail or drop them off at the county election office or official dropboxes by May 17. For the first time this year, ballots postmarked by May 17 will be counted if they arrive within a week after the election.

The Read campaign’s poll showed that he didn’t receive a larger share of voters who planned to support Nick Kristof, the former New York Times columnist who was ruled ineligible to run because he wasn’t living in Oregon three years ahead of the election.

Pundits speculated that Kristof’s absence would help Read, as both were trying to appeal to the same group of moderate voters and positioning themselves as outsiders. Read explicitly invited Kristof’s supporters to back his campaign and has been endorsed by Sheryl WuDunn, Kristof’s wife and writing partner. 

A November poll by FM3 for the Read campaign showed Kotek and Kristof tied at 19%, with Read at 14% and 1% supporting Casey Kulla, a Yamhill County commissioner who has since dropped out of the governor’s race to run for commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries. Since then, Kotek and Read each picked up 6%, but more voters are undecided. 

Thomas Wheatley, an adviser to Kotek’s campaign, noted that Read began running television ads weeks ago. Filings with the Federal Communications Commission show Read first began running ads on cable networks on March 21, while Kotek’s first ads ran this week. 

“The treasurer has been running TV ads all by himself for weeks and clearly his message isn’t resonating,” Wheatley said. “Even his own polling shows that Tina Kotek is a stronger candidate for governor. Tina begins advertising this week and her lead will only grow from here. This poll may well show the high water mark for the Treasurer’s campaign.”

-Julia Shumway, Oregon Capital Chronicle

April 14, 2022 at 11:45am

Marion County Fair announces country, hip-hop headliners for 2022

Elizabeth Bettiga, of Aim High Livestock, walks her pig, Calypso back to its pen after receiving the Supreme Champion Female award at the Marion County Fair on Friday, July 9, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The 2022 Marion County Fair will feature a hip-hop and country lineup on the main stage as the event returns to the state fairgrounds July 8-10.

Headlining the fair will be Breland, a New Jersey-born hip-hop and country fusion artist best known for his breakout single "My Truck." Fair organizers announced the lineup Wednesday evening.

The mainstage on July 9 will feature Aaron Watson, a country artist with more than a dozen self-released albums.

Those looking to get their ticket early to the Marion County Fair can now get them online before prices increase closer to the event. Tickets are $5 for people six and older. Admission is free for children five and under any day, and for children 12 and under on Sunday, July 10.

The fair will feature live music, rides, contests and food, as well as a "full barn" with goats, pigs and cows.

"Our county 4-H and FFA kids have been working hard and are ready to show off for you," organizers said in an email.

The fair is will take place at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, 2330 17th St N.E.

Organizers said the fair may be limited on number of attendees, and Covid restrictions may apply.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

April 14, 2022 at 10:08am

City urges watering to help curb spreading birch tree beetle infestation

A birch tree (City of Salem)

As Salem sees hotter and drier weather, the city's top tree expert says local birch trees are increasingly vulnerable to infestation.

More birch trees in Salem are becoming infested with bronze birch borer, a native wood-boring beetle that can reproduce in non-native birch trees, as well as Oregon species that are under stress.

The beetle "cannot kill healthy trees and is most likely to attack old, stressed, or drought-stricken trees," says Milan Davis, Salem's urban forester, in a statement. "While many homeowners may not place a high priority on watering mature trees, this can be a key strategy for preventing BBB damage in dry areas. Birch trees tend to be shallow-rooted and respond well to watering."

Symptoms of infestation can look like a tree affected by drought.

"Wilted leaves near the top of the tree are often the first identifiable sign of the borer’s presence, followed by twig and branch dieback," according to an Oregon State University extension service guide to the pest.

D-shaped holes in a tree's bark where the beetle has exited the tree are another sign of infestation.

A city bulletin said taking good care of trees is the best way to protect them. Buying locally-sourced firewood can also help stop the pest's spread.

Davis said removing trees too harmed by the beetle to recover can help stop the pest from spreading. Trees that have lost more than half their leaves to infestation generally need to be removed.

If you suspect a city-owned tree is infested with birch borer, call 503-588-6311 or email [email protected]

-Rachel Alexander