Guest Editorial: Imagine your surprise

By Fred Bassett, Chair – Tillamook County Democrats
You get a letter from “the desk of” a respected office holder, a local sheriff. After a brief introduction, he informs you how political unrest – Black Lives Matter demonstrations – add pressure to police agencies, in “parts of the state and country” where demonstrations turned violent and “political groups” called for “abolishing local law enforcement.”
Afraid? Wait! “Make no mistake, although the riots are happening in Portland, some people in our area want to dismantle our local law enforcement,” the letter reads.
These fear tactics are used to tie a candidate for your Oregon House of Representatives seat to an imagined plot to gut “critical (law enforcement) programs.” The candidate he refers to is “endorsed by a group working to defund our local law enforcement.” No proof, no names. It must be true because it’s coming “from the desk of” a local county sheriff.
He then urges you to vote for Suzanne Weber.
Imagine your surprise, when you find out, as I did this week, that this very real letter “from the desk of Jim Horton, Tillamook County Sheriff,” was not written, printed or mailed by Horton. Entirely the fabrication of the Weber campaign, it was sent to Horton for his approval, and was mailed to every House District 32 voter without identifying that it was a paid political advertisement. The return P.O.Box is Weber’s, not Horton’s, even though the letterhead and envelope look like and states they come from his office.
I called Sheriff Horton to discuss this. He said, “I authorized its use.”
The other HD 32 candidate is, of course, Debbie Boothe-Schmidt.
Boothe-Schmidt speaks for herself. “I worked in the Clatsop County Criminal Justice system for 23 years, working with police officers, even representing them in my union. I have deep appreciation for our rural law enforcement and it is offensive to infer I would want to defund the people I worked with for over two decades. This misleading attack is meant to divide us, scare us, and distract us from what’s at stake. There are real and valid concerns coming from our BIPOC communities about how police interact with people of color, and we need leaders who are going to bring people together from all sides, from any party, to find real solutions that improve our criminal justice system and keep us ALL safe.”
When asked, Horton said he’d never spoken with Boothe-Schmidt or had any knowledge of her background.
The endorsement Horton/Weber, referred to in his/her letter, was Indivisible North Coast, which “has never made a statement about defunding police,” Boothe-Schmidt said.
At a time when what we need most is honesty, integrity and transparency, this letter from the Weber campaign under the guise of Sheriff Horton, on the eve of ballots being mailed, is an insult to voters in District 32.
If we look through the unethical fear tactics and lies of this despicable Weber/Horton production, and look instead at the breadth of experience, commitment to community and family values of Debbie Boothe-Schmidt, this ugly episode only crystallizes the obvious choice for the candidate best qualified to represent House District 32.