Stacey Vieyra-Braendle, left, and Julie Hoy, are running to represent east Salem, Ward 6, on the city council (Campaign photos)

On May 17, Salem voters will select four city councilors and the city’s next mayor.

Council candidates are running in ward 2, 4, 6 and 8. Voters must live in a ward to vote in that ward’s race. All Salem voters can cast a ballot for mayor.

Races are nonpartisan, which means candidates aren’t running from a political party and voters don’t need to be registered with any party affiliation. 

Salem Reporter sent all nine candidates for city offices the same questionnaire based on reader suggestions and major issues facing the city. We’re printing responses from candidates over the coming days, organized by ward.

Salem Reporter also reviewed records of campaign contributions, criminal and civil court records and voting histories to learn about each candidate.

Julie Hoy and Stacey Vieyra-Braendle are running to represent ward 6, east Salem, on the city council. The seat is currently held by Chris Hoy (no relation to Julie Hoy), who’s running for mayor in 2022.

Hoy, 56, is an artist and the owner of Geppetto’s, an Italian restaurant on Lancaster Drive Northeast.

Vieyra-Braendle, 35, is an occupational therapist who has previously served on the city’s budget committee.

Hoy has raised $43,785 in cash and $1,498 in-kind donations, according to state campaign finance records. Her largest donor is a political action committee affiliated with the Home Builders Association of Marion and Polk Counties, called Mid-Valley Affordable Housing Coalition, with $3,166.67 in total donations, including $2,500 in cash. The Oregon Realtors political action committee has contributed $2,500.

She’s endorsed by Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett, whose term expires at the end of the year, and has also received contributions from mayoral candidate Chane Griggs.

Vieyra-Braendle has raised $9,204 in cash and $2,988 in in-kind donations. Her largest donors are Salem resident Mia Hughey, who has donated $1,788 in-kind and her husband Robert Vieyra-Braendle, with a $1,300 in-kind contribution. She has received $1,200 from Citizen Action for Political Education, the political action committee for the Service Employees International Union Local 503, which represents many state employees and caregivers.

She is endorsed by Chris Hoy, as well as city councilors Trevor Phillips, Vanessa Nordyke and Jackie Leung.

Q&A

How long have you lived in Salem?

Hoy: I have lived in the same house on Center Street since 1991.

Vieyra-Braendle: 11.5 years

Please describe previous civic experience. This could include service on a board or commission, previous elective office, or work or volunteer service in a related field. Please include the year(s) for the work or service.

Hoy

Since 2000 I have served on a volunteer board with Friends of Pimpollo, a Salem-based 501(c)(3). I left my position as board chair summer of 2021. I am still closely involved.

Friends of Pimpollo (pronounced pim-poy-o and also known as FOP) develops and supports education-based projects in southern Mexico, specifically in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas.

Over the years I have travelled there 24 times to help. 

I remember when I returned to Oaxaca for my second FOP Team trip. I was walking hand in hand with a little one at the orphanage. I’ll never forget the moment he stopped, looked up at me with his big brown eyes and asked, “Why did you come back?” I responded, “I came back because I meant what I said, 'I love you and you will always live in my heart.'" The same is true today… and will be tomorrow and always. 

My Friends there call me Julia… ¡Hoy… Mañana y Siempre!

Friends of Pimpollo is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization. Federal Tax Identification Number is 72-1529281.

Vieyra-Braendle

Service on state professional organizations, advocating for the integrity of the professions and increasing client access to needed healthcare services.

-Occupational Therapy Association of Oregon - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, Lead Member

-Interprofessional Student Diversity Group (Pacific University) - Secretary and Member Active in Group Formation

-Student Occupational Therapy Association - President

-Oregon Association for Music Therapy - President; President-Elect

Community involvement that reflects the way I live my values of community, equity and inclusion, and transformative growth.

-Salem Citizen Budget Committee - Member-At-Large

-Salem Keizer Coalition for Equality - Board of Directors

-Free Fridge Salem - Fridge, pantry, and community garden host

-Adelante Mujeres - Volunteer to support family nutrition and cooking groups

-Mid Valley Mentors - Youth mentor

-Reaching Higher! Mentoring Program - Mentor and support to recently resettled refugees in Phoenix, wanting to pursue higher education

Describe one volunteer circumstance where you held a leadership position and used that position to accomplish a specific goal. We are looking for information on not only previous leadership but effective leadership.

Hoy: Our work through Friends of Pimpollo, since its inception in 2000, is changing the landscape in southern Mexico… one education at a time. We began our efforts at an orphanage called Pimpollo in Juchitan, Oaxaca. Since then… Our programs have brought forth more than 35 college graduates and have expanded to include efforts in Oaxaca City and Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas.

We help to support 16 small schools in the community next to the garbage dump outside Oaxaca City. We help to fund a community center there… where hundreds of adults have learned to read and write in Spanish for the first time. Those adults understand the importance of education as the means to breaking the cycle of poverty. Some are now able to assist their children with homework.

This is quiet, difficult and less popular work than your usual, local non-profit. There are no plaques with our name on it. At times we have struggled to survive… but we have not given up.

Some wonder how I learned to speak Spanish. Here is my answer:

Los gentes de Oaxaca y Chiapas… especialmente los niños… están mis maestros. Mi Español no es perfecto… y no tengo muchos palabras… pero es la verdad que… algunas veces menos palabras están mejor.   

Vieyra-Braendle: I served as a group co-lead for the Occupational Therapy Association of Oregon’s (OTAO) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Taskforce. We created a tangible path for OTAO, to address DEI issues as they relate to occupational therapy (OT) practice in Oregon. We provided a plan addressing the education and empowerment of practitioners to provide equitable and just services to clients. COVID created challenges to connect with new groups and work partners to create something powerful, and we had to do so in three months. My co-lead and I utilized constructive listening dyads and an intentional speaking order to develop trust and ensure that voices typically ignored, were centered. We produced a plan with specific steps to support the education of OT practitioners in our state. Now more practitioners are entering the profession better able to provide culturally safe care that is cognizant of the systems of oppression that have affected many of our clients.

What motivated you to run?  What specific issue is a priority for you to address if elected and what steps would you take? (For council candidates, please address an issue specific to your ward)

Hoy: This city is in crisis… and some wards feel it more than others. I’m not concerned about changing a speed limit. I want decency and order returned to our neighborhoods. I want proper training and support for law enforcement. I want adequate services for the suffering. I am not about to start memorizing buzz language to further an agenda. We have come to a place where there is right and there is wrong and something needs to be done about it. 

Vieyra-Braendle: Community is what motivated me to run. I want to transform Salem into a compassionate community where ALL thrive. For us to be invested in the health and well-being of our neighbors. Giving what we can when possible. Being accountable to one another. Acknowledging that harm occurs and how we respond matters. As a mixed Latina with invisible disabilities and a healthcare professional, I have a unique perspective on public service and community health. Every day I am collaborating with families and clients to harness their community, capitalize on their strengths, and develop a support system for a safe return home. Something that needs to be addressed is improving equity, inclusion, and accessibility and decreasing disparities experienced in our ward. Ward 6 is the most diverse in all of Salem. I am eager to increase representation in local decision-making processes. I will also advocate for our fair share of city resources to ensure safe routes to schools.

Homelessness remains a major challenge for the community.

What action has the city taken in the past year that you agree with and support?

Hoy: Breaks my heart to know we need them but managed temporary housing is necessary. 

Vieyra-Braendle: In July of last year, the city council approved the use of a $5 million grant for the city’s navigation center, a site that would act as low-barrier sheltering to our neighbors. I adamantly believe in the value of such sites: we have to meet people where they’re at. Using substances does not preclude someone from deserving a roof over their heads, and low-barrier shelters allow our houseless neighbors to take a first step towards gaining housing. 

What action has the city taken in the past that you disagree with and oppose?

Hoy: Certain individuals and families need help. But handouts without requirement of contribution, from those who are able, will never work. People have figured out the system and Salem seems to be a place where people can come and be… because the handouts are many and boundaries are non existent. 

Vieyra-Braendle: As a healthcare professional, I attempt to approach each client with a trauma-informed perspective, thinking “what’s happened to you” rather than “what’s wrong with you”. In 2017, and then again in 2019, the city considered a “sit-lie” ordinance that would punish neighbors for sitting or lying on public sidewalks, exemplifying the latter. Though the City Council ultimately declined to adopt that original proposal, it did eventually adopt two ordinances that: restricted 24-hour camping on public property, leaving personal possessions unattended on public property, and would penalize sitting/lying on public sidewalks once certain conditions were met. We must think of the ripple effects of continual upheaval and movement, without sufficient stable housing available as an alternative. This only exacerbates barriers to housing and employment, thus perpetuating cycles of houselessness, incarceration, and more.

What would you propose to address encampments around the city?

Hoy: Zero tolerance. Assessment of the homeless… and discovery of who exactly are we dealing with? Are folks homeless by choice? Are they there because of Financial difficulty… Mental illness, Drug or alcohol addiction? We need adequate help to serve all on every level.

Vieyra-Braendle: Encampments certainly can lead to dangerous situations, as evidenced by the recent deaths of four neighbors. However, when discussing what to do, we must look at the root causes, not place blame on our houseless neighbors. What has happened to folks to get to this situation, and how are we meeting their needs to help lift them out of it? Oakland initiated a program in which it not only sanctioned an encampment, but worked diligently to provide sanitation services, toilets, mobile health clinics, as well as collaborated with community organizations to provide social services, mental health support, and more. Though our city did sanction encampments during the pandemic, I believe it demonstrated to us the need to provide a well-rounded and well-developed support network to promote our neighbors’ total health. 

What additional collaboration or partnership do you propose the city expand or initiate to address the reasons people are homeless in Salem?

Hoy: I live in the city of Salem. My business, half a mile closer to downtown, is in unincorporated Marion County. We need collaboration… a collective effort to find reasonable, effective solutions. We need leadership  that has vision and energy to accomplish that vision. There are many reasons people are homeless, and we can’t solve all of them.  From a government perspective however, we can attract better paying jobs. We can work to make housing more affordable. We can provide better access to mental health services. We can hold criminal behavior accountable. 

Vieyra-Braendle: I would like our city to continue to explore public-private partnerships that can aid us in increasing affordable housing, while also encouraging the creation of mixed-use spaces that allow neighbors greater access to needed/desired services closer to home. Historically, our city has favored developers with profit-driven interests, offering them tax abatements that are insufficient to the benefits incurred. I’m inspired by the work that not only our city council is doing to explore more equitable partnerships, but also the Salem-Keizer School Board. Housing status is a key determinant of health. Both FEMA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognize the power that housing has in reducing disparities experienced by our houseless and often low-income neighbors. Thus, it is imperative that we continue to expand our partnerships and think outside the confines of what’s always been done to address the housing crisis in Salem.

Salem is continuing to grow and has a shortage of both rental housing and homes. What should city government do to address this shortage beyond what it is now doing?

Hoy: As far as I can tell… The city has done a good job implementing HB 2001, allowing for more middle housing. But this is just a beginning. We need to do more to creatively incentivize the building of more units and making them more affordable, like waiving parking requirements near transit, or further reducing lot sizes or fees, if the units built are prices for workforce housing. We need the City to move faster. Delays cost money which makes housing more expensive for everyone. We need less roadblocks and more doorways.

Vieyra-Braendle: I think one opportunity before us is to expand the city’s offering of middle-housing. Similar to my answer above, I think this is a chance to explore those public-private partnerships to ensure we are receiving something worthy of what we’re giving. I don’t believe that we, the individual taxpayers impacted by such decisions, have gotten what we deserve out of these partnerships. It’s time to make them start working for us. It’s time to start prioritizing people over profits. 

City leaders have developed a Climate Action Plan to guide city efforts to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions, including a proposal to ban natural gas hookups. How ambitious should the city be with its climate goals?

Hoy: We all value clean air and pure water. At the same time, the folks in my ward are struggling. With inflation and other pressures, I believe the city needs to be careful with a gas ban. We need to be thoughtful in how we move forward, and I want to make sure that we don’t over power the grid we have or leave large swaths of our community unprepared in a natural disaster through forced electrification. From what I understand… Natural gas is the cleanest thing going.

Vieyra-Braendle: Climate change is here, now. The reality is that we have to be very ambitious if we want to truly attempt to reverse course. Otherwise, our city will continue to experience devastating wildfires, deadly heat waves, and crushing ice storms. When an issue, national phenomenon, pandemic, or other large-scale “thing” is not directly impacting our health or our lives, it is challenging to appreciate its scale. However, in the last few years Mother Nature has been communicating much more effectively. The good news is that, through aggressive action, we can fix it. But it will take us all.

Police Chief Trevor Womack has said his department has had to scale back certain services due to being short-staffed, and identified increasing the size of Salem’s police force as key to implementing his strategic plan. How would you assess such a proposal as a councilor? 

Hoy: I believe in supporting a well trained  police force who can compassionately protect our community. If we don’t properly invest in our police, it will be impossible to recruit and retain the kind of officers we can be proud of. I would want to to dig into the strategic plan and also find out how it was produced, who was involved in creating it to make sure that it represents the heart and soul of our community. 

Vieyra-Braendle: I am a member of the Citizen Budget Committee. In preparation for our work to begin, we were given an overview of the “context” surrounding our current city budget. One important thing I learned is that, if our city staffing had grown at adequate rates to support our city population growth, we would have approximately 300 additional staff across departments. When looking at prioritization of where to support department growth, it’s important that we utilize data-driven models to make our decisions. I also believe that as a city, we need to prioritize programs and services that address the root causes of problems we’re facing. 

The police department has reported an increase in murders and weapon offenses from last year as the agency prioritized responding to an uptick in shootings at the beginning of 2021. What action, if any, would you propose the city take to reduce gun violence or otherwise improve public safety?

Hoy: Public safety is a core function of city government. That said, there are many external pressures that impact our local ability to protect citizens. The legislature and the Governor have been slowly eroding our local law enforcement’s tools used to keep us safe. Obviously… we need to do everything in our power to prevent gun violence by criminals.

Vieyra-Braendle: According to the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer, there has been an overall increase in violent crime across the country from 2019 to 2020. However, the rates in 2020 were still lower than they were in 2010. In an effort to get to real solutions, I will emphasize again that we must address the roots of the issues facing our city. Community violence intervention programs help to fill that gap where we haven’t been acting yet. These programs work to support people in achieving total health. They connect them to mental health support if needed, provide job skills training and preparation, and more. Finally, it is important to remember that our city has taken some steps to fill such gaps, particularly through increased sheltering and housing support. Because these programs are in their early stages, we have to remember that we’re unlikely to see their impacts on keeping our communities safer. 

What, if anything, should the city do to attract good living-wage jobs to Salem?

Hoy: The government can’t create jobs, but we can create an atmosphere that makes employers want to expand or move here. There is a lot that goes into this: ensuring adequate housing for workers, investing in infrastructure, working with city departments to have an attitude of “let’s get to yes” instead of “how can we say no.” As a councilor, I would be a cheerleader and salesperson for Salem, and would be on the look out for any way to support our current employers and attract new. As it is now… not so much.

Vieyra-Braendle: I believe one huge improvement would be to bolster our public transit system and bikeways. As a city councilor, I know I would not have direct decision-making over the Cherriots transit system. However, this is a partnership I am deeply interested in forming so that we can work together to map the growth of our city transit offerings. I would like to move towards a transit hub for me and my neighbors in Ward 6, as well as advocate for our Ward to be a priority target for the rollout of electric vehicles. Both actions would improve the livability of a part of the city that has historically been neglected, making it that much more appealing to employers and employees alike. Hand-in-hand with that is creating safe, protected bikeways, that will further enhance the ease of transportation within the city. 

Should the city be taking steps to recognize and serve Salem’s increasingly diverse population? If so, what steps?

Hoy: My ward is about 48% Hispanic and has been terribly under represented. We have a lack of government information provided in Spanish and little or no communication with residents. As a bi-lingual person who has spent decades volunteering for a nonprofit in Mexico, I will be present and engaged in my ward. I want people to know that regardless of who they are, they have an advocate who will stand up for them and be their voice. 

No tengo muchas palabras en Español… pero yo tengo oídos y ojos… y quiero servir los gentes en Ward 6.

Vieyra-Braendle: YES, an enthusiastic and loud yes to this! We need to involve persons from historically neglected and disenfranchised groups in local decision-making, and the best way to do that is to get them into committees and elected leadership. Providing something in return for such service would allow persons who are not working traditional schedules, retired, or wealthy to also join city leadership without upending their lives. This could look like stipends, investigating changes to our governing documents to allow for pay, providing childcare, and more. I also firmly believe that we need to improve representation of people across the age spectrum. I believe I am among the youngest to run for City Council, and I don’t even consider myself that young. As a 35-year-old, I am now often lumped into the 35-44 category! We should involve those whose futures we are affecting with the decisions we make. 

Correction: This article originally misstated the total amount Home Builders Association of Marion and Polk Counties has given to Julie Hoy's campaign. It is $3,166.67 in total donations, not in-kind donations. Salem Reporter apologizes for the error.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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