SALEM — Though the Oregon House and Senate chambers remain dark until January, there’s plenty of activity in and around the Capitol as the Nov. 6 election looms ever larger. Taxes, deadlines, debates, travel and wildfires are among the top topics from the past week.

Tick-tick-tick

Officially, it is less than two months until the general election. But with Oregon’s mail ballot system, the reality is really much different here. The first ballots, to military personnel who are Oregon residents, have to be in the mail by Sept. 22. Here at home, its possible to register to vote until Oct. 16. The first ballots for the general public will be mailed Oct. 17.

They’re all supposed to be mailed to voters by Oct. 23. That means all ballots should be in the hands of all voters about the time the doorbell starts ringing on Halloween. Nov. 6 is just when the votes are tabulated.

Young ones wanted for debate Q&A

Organizers of an Oct. 2 debate between the major-party candidates for governor are putting out a call for questions from youths ages 10 to 20. The debate, sponsored by the nonprofit Children First, will be held in Portland and be simulcast on KBNZ, the CBS affiliate in Bend. Those interested in having their questions chosen can submit them at www.cffo.org/debate. The website also includes how to submit a video of themselves asking the question. Questions can also be sent to Brian Bennett, with Children First, at brian@cffo.org . The debate will be shown from 7 to 8 p.m.

The candidates will be Gov. Kate Brown, the Democratic incumbent; Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, the Republican nominee; and Independent Party candidate Patrick Starnes.

John Schrag, executive editor of Pamplin Media Group, which owns KOIN, the Portland television station where the debate will transmit, said he expected the questions from children will lead to more substantive and personal answers.

“It will be a lot more interesting and informative for voters than traditional debates, partly because it will be tougher for the candidates to blow off questions from young people or switch to prepared talking points,” Schrag said. “Would they really want to be seen on live TV being rude to a 16-year-old? We don’t think so.”

Governor: No property-tax proposal

Gov. Kate Brown says her budget proposal, due after the November election, will not include a property-tax proposal. “We’ve been getting a lot of calls on property tax reform,” Brown told reporters Thursday. “My office is not developing a policy and there will be nothing in my budget on this issue. It would require a constitutional amendment.” Brown said she would deliver a balanced budget proposal, as required by law. She confirmed aides are talking with proponents and opponents of property-tax reform but reiterated that her budget would not initiate any action on the issue.

Walden on the go

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, put in an odometer-spinning amount of travel during the August congressional recess, including stops in Deschutes County. But the 10-term lawmaker has not set a date for a promised 2018 town hall in Bend. Walden, whose sprawling 2nd Congressional District covers most of the eastern and southern portions of the state, logged 2,050 miles in Oregon, attending 29 meetings in 12 counties. Walden said during August, he responded to 14,408 messages from constituents on a variety of matters, including veterans seeking help with benefits. “Representative Walden held multiple meetings in Deschutes County in August, including an opioid roundtable with FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a drug development roundtable with Dr. Gottlieb, a discussion with the local agriculture community and Dr. Gottlieb on the Food Safety Modernization Act, a visit to the Shell Stop and Go Mini Mart, a meeting at Newport Avenue Market, a discussion on the Deschutes canal piping project with the top water official at the Department of the Interior, and a Veterans Appreciation Day BBQ to thank local veterans for their service to our country,” Walden communications director Justin Discigil wrote in an email to The Bulletin. Discigil wrote that Walden has not yet set a date or place for the promised 2018 town hall in Bend. Walden faces Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner and the Independent Party’s Mark Roberts in the Nov. 6 election.

Fire update

As of Monday, there were 88 active wildfires burning nearly 1.7 million acres in the U.S., reported the National Interagency Fire Center.

In Oregon and Washington there are 11 large wildfires that have burned more than 360,000 acres, the center reported. The largest fire is the Klondike Fire west of Grants Pass, now estimated at 130,000 acres in size and about 50 percent contained. Lightning started the fire July 15.

In Northern California, Interstate 5 reopened Monday between Redding and Mount Shasta after the Delta Fire caused closures for several days. The interstate is down to one lane each way in fire-damaged areas. In its monthly forecast report, the agency predicted the Pacific Northwest would remain warmer and drier than average for the rest of the summer and into fall.

The 2018 fire season began June 1. There is no date set for the end. Last year, the fire season ended Oct. 20.

— Reporter: 541-640-2750, gwarner@bendbulletin.com

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