By editorial board • 

City election to feature more than usual intrigue

More candidates for McMinnville mayor and council posts may emerge in the 10 days remaining before the filing deadline, but this year’s election is already shaping up as one of the most intriguing in recent memory.

Most notably, it features a slate of politically like-minded candidates. And this list has ties to a broader political movement extending throughout Yamhill County. 

It’s a scenario perhaps not unprecedented, but, at a minimum, very rare. It could prove thrilling for some voters and frightening for others.

To be clear, “slate” as used here is our term. Ward 1 council candidate Chris Chenoweth, Ward 2 council candidate Brittany Ruiz and mayoral candidate Heidi Parker have not used the term themselves.

However, anyone paying attention to local politics would find it easy to conclude there is some coordination of effort underway.

Chenoweth, who lost to Sal Peralta two years ago, is seeking the seat held by Wendy Stassens. Stassens is not seeking re-election, but Lisa McCracken has joined Chenoweth in the field.

In Ward 2, Ruiz hopes to unseat Councilor Kellie Menke. In Ward 3, Councilor Adam Garvin is, so far, seeking re-election without opposition. Parker is trying to defeat Mayor Scott Hill.

Speaking last year at a meeting of Yamhill County Republican Women, Chenoweth referenced a drive to recruit conservatives for open seats throughout the county.

Around that time, a new political action committee was created under the banner of Yamhill First. It is led by local businessmen Chris McClaren, David Mahn and Jason John.

The PAC so far has raised about $15,000. It has made recent contributions to Rep. Ron Noble, county commissioner-elect Lindsay Berschauer and treasurer candidate Paulette Alexandria. 

The three city hopefuls can almost certainly count on the support of Berschauer and one of her key backers, County Commissioner Mary Starrett.

Starrett has already donated $500 to Parker’s campaign. And Parker’s candidacy announcement appears to have been prepared by Berschauer, whose name appeared as “Author” in the PDF metadata.

In his 2018 council bid, Chenoweth received in-kind contributions from Starrett’s husband, and benefited from his public debate heckling of Peralta. 

Recently, we bemoaned the growing partisanship of state and national politics, and its gradual creep down into the city and county levels. It’s likely we’ll have to swallow another dose of that in November, especially with a vitriolic presidential election as a backdrop.

However, it’s not simply a matter of party politics. After all, Menke and Hill are registered Republicans. It’s more a question of conservative ideology, with frustrations over how the city currently operates added in.

Discontent over the city’s handling of certain issues, including homelessness, fire service funding and the contentious care center business license, has helped light the fire for a takeover bid. Local businessmen at odds with the city on those and other issues have been among Yamhill First’s largest donors.

The election process at the city level is often as important as the outcome, as it’s the only time many residents give significant attention to the issues at hand. And the injection of an us-versus-them element could muddy that process this time around.

Every two years, we consider each candidate and race independently, examining the matters pertinent to the seat in making our endorsement decisions. We hope voters will be able to do the same.

Meanwhile, anyone who enjoys the theater of politics is in for a new kind of show.

[Editor's note: This editorial has been edited to remove the employers of the Yamhill First PAC, as the PAC directors are working independently and their political advocacy does not necessarily represent that of the local businesses they work for.]



Thanks for sharing. It’s an exciting time to be alive. Will NR also cover why Menke and Hill have no PAC or campaign funds at all? Zero history online either. Seems odd.


It is not all that surprising that local elections have no fiscal footprints. They have been low-key affairs without funding thresholds requiring reporting. I appreciate that these races are still mostly word-of-mouth campaigns.


Traditionally, council and mayor candidates have not raised money to mount campaigns. At most, they have knocked on a few doors and/or hosted a few neighborhood meet-and-greets.
In more than 20 years here, the only real campaign I've see run around here at the city level came in 2018, when Chris Chenoweth challenged Sal Peralta.
When Chris amassed a warchest and mounted an aggressive campaign, Sal responded in kind. It resembled a county commissioner or state legislative race much more than the traditional city style of low-key, family-and-friends, word-of-mouth.
Is the 2018 donnybrook the wave of the future. I guess we're about to find out.


The race in November will be interesting, to say the least, but we must not allow ourselves to get caught up in all of the hoopla that some are trying to generate.

I find it ironic that one of the key selling points is that of the societal problem of homelessness. While some are accused of not doing enough or worse yet - nothing at all - others have a very shady track record that they would probably not like to resurface so close to the final bell.

In one particular case is the candidate that facilitated what could easily be labeled as "Macs hate group" that went around terrorizing the homeless and their camps, even committing highly questionable (if not illegal) acts in the process. Then they turned around and tried to reinvent themselves as the "messiah of the homeless". The liabilities of this hate group soon became too much baggage for them to run a campaign, so they disbanded their group and even went on to claim that they were not responsible, but a funny thing about the internet is that once something has been posted it can be retrieved and come nearer the election I suspect the other candidate will begin to air this long list of dirty laundry.

Mac needs leadership, but the question that lingers is do we need new leadership and the changes they propose or do we stick with what we have had and be content to follow that for the next term? November's answer should be interesting...

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