As Oregonians, we know that we are stronger when we work together. Everyone deserves a seat at the table for solving the big challenges our communities and our state face! We wanted to share a powerful example with this story of how a small group of dedicated volunteers in Malheur County is organizing to keep Oregon’s borders intact and improve collaboration and representation of rural communities in our existing state government.
In 2021, Malheur County voters passed an ordinance called “Meet To Promote Relocating Oregon-Idaho Border” that requires the County government to meet at least three times a year to discuss border relocation. A similar ordinance has passed in 11 other counties from Klamath to Wallowa, and Crook and Gilliam counties will vote on one this May.
In response to the Malheur County ordinance passing, community members formed a bipartisan petition committee called Greater Oregon PAC. They are composed of passionate and committed citizens from various backgrounds, united to remain Oregonians.
Here’s their mission statement: “We firmly believe that the boundaries of Oregon are an integral part of our historical, cultural, and economic identity. We believe changing the boundaries of Oregon would have a drastic impact on education, healthcare, economics, land use, employment, and our way of life. As such, we are actively working to repeal the county ordinance ‘Meet To Promote Relocating Oregon-Idaho Border’ through a petition.”
Malheur County Campaign to Repeal Greater Idaho Ballot Measure
Greater Oregon leaders participated in the county meetings required by the Greater Idaho ordinance and have felt frustrated by the uselessness of the conversations. They have attempted to build bridges with their neighbors who ran the initial measure. Those folks say they want to move the border because they don’t feel represented by the Oregon State government. Greater Oregon knows that moving the border not only does not solve the problem of the state government (of either state) defunding and deprioritizing rural but also that it likely could make conditions a lot worse, given the negative impacts that being part of Idaho would have on the economy, health care, land use, employment and more. Also, residents are concerned that the ordinance’s requirement of three meetings a year have forced county commissioners (and county court members) to waste much of the limited time that they have to carry out the important business of running a county.
After writing the legally binding petition language, Greater Oregon got approval to collect signatures from the County Clerk’s Office. They need at least 552 verified signatures to get on the ballot in November 2024, or 6% of the votes for governor in the last election in Malheur County. They are already about 20% of the way to their goal!
Here’s how Greater Oregon describes how people can get involved on their website: “Getting involved in a petition is a powerful way to advocate for this change that impacts you. Check out the calendar for times and locations to sign or join the movement and collect signatures. For Malheur County residents, signing the petition directly adds your voice to remain Oregonians.”
Greater Oregon is the first group (that we know of) to collect signatures to repeal one of these discussion measures. Others in eastern Oregon have been actively participating in the required meetings, reaching out to strategic media partners to get more balanced coverage of the issue, and talking with their neighbors and legislators about their opposition to the border relocation.
To get in touch with the Malheur campaign, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. The team also wanted us to share that for other counties interested in taking on this effort, you do not have to be registered to vote in the county in which you file an initiative petition.
Initiative Petition Language
The County Clerk’s office processes all initiative petitions. After a few rounds, the Greater Oregon PAC formulated the very simple language of the petition to repeal this county ordinance like this:
Initiative to Repeal Greater Idaho Meetings (1-12) on the 2024 General Election in Malheur County
Whereas, Title 1, Chapter 12 of the Malheur County Code: “Meet To Promote Relocating Oregon-ldaho Border” ordinance reads: [full text of the initial ordinance]
Whereas, the intent of the electorate of Malheur County, upon the passage of Malheur County Initiative Measure 23-64 on May 18, 2021, is to have the County Court meet to promote Greater Idaho.
We the people of Malheur County wish to have this ordinance removed from our County code. If enough signatures are collected from registered voters in Malheur County, and if this initiative passes as a ballot measure in the general election in November of 2024, then we propose the entire text of the “Meet to Promote Relocating Oregon-Idaho Border Ordinance” (Title 1, Chapter 12, of the Malheur County Code) be entirely removed from the County Code.
And here is how it will appear on the ballot:
Caption: “REPEAL ‘MEET TO PROMOTE RELOCATING OREGON-IDAHO BORDER’ ORDINANCE”
Question: “Shall the Malheur County ordinance ‘Meet to Promote Relocating Oregon-Idaho Border’ be repealed in its entirety?”
Summary: “If passed, this measure will repeal the Malheur County ordinance “Meet to Promote Relocating Oregon-Idaho Border” (Title 1, Chapter 12 of the Malheur County Code). The Malheur County Court will no longer be required to meet on the second Monday of every January, May and September to discuss how to promote the interest of Malheur County in any negotiations regarding the relocation of the Oregon-Idaho border.”
Are you interested in taking on a similar campaign in your area? Tell us what you’re up to by emailing Emma at email@example.com!
Emma and the ROP Team