The Keizer Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee met Wednesday (October 18th). A summary of the meeting is below.
Matt Markee – Markee & Associates – Political Action Committee Discussion
Matt Markee joined us to discuss his experience with Political Action Committees (PACs). Matt is a Keizer Chamber Member and he owns and operates a government affairs firm here in town called Markee and Associates. He has several clients with PACs.
PACs are used to build relationships, not “buy” votes. They are becoming more important in the political process as the cost of campaigns continues to rise.
Matt recommends a PAC have a different board of directors from the organization’s board. The PAC should also have its own bylaws setting out the rules under which the PAC will operate as well as what type of races the organization will get involved in (ballot measures, local, state, federal etc.). Also, will the PAC endorse candidates?
Some PACs do formal interviews and/or questionnaires as part of their endorsement process. Others do not endorse candidates at all.
State rules require regular financial reporting. This is typically best handled by someone who works between PACs and the Oregon Secretary of State’s office on a regular basis. The potential fines for the errors far outweigh the cost of having a professional keep watch over things.
This was the first discussion on the possibility of the Keizer Chamber forming a PAC. We still have additional research to do before we can make a decision one way or the other.
We will also be reaching out to other Chambers with PACs to get their advice and learn from their experience. If you have questions please do let us know and we will work to get them answered.
Nate Brown – Community Development Director – City of Keizer:
Nate Brown joined us to discuss potential upgrades to River Road. As you know, an ordinance before the Keizer City Council would have required 1 percent of project costs to be set aside for “public amenities.” The Keizer Chamber was opposed to this change and worked with City Councilors to engage the community in a larger discussion about what we would like to see River Road look like in the future. Nate’s visit to the Government Affairs Committee was the first step in that larger discussion.
We discussed the recently closed Urban Renewal District. The issues with the Keizer Station Lighting Improvement District used up most of the assets from the Urban Renewal District. The state rules under which the district was formed required sign off on any changes from other government entities in the Keizer area (i.e. Salem/Keizer Public Schools and the Keizer Fire District). New Urban Renewal Districts have different rules.
The River Road Renaissance, funded by the Urban Renewal District, did have some accomplishments. Landscaping and sidewalk upgrades were installed in several places and the intersection of Lockhaven and River Road was upgraded.
The City of Keizer is asking for input on what folks want River Road to be. Suggestions at the meeting included ensuring traffic flow is as efficient as possible to landscape and building maintenance issues.
There are not many incentives the city can offer at moment. The previous urban renewal district funded matching grants for the landscape and sidewalk upgrades for example.
When the River Road Renaissance ended, projects such as additional sidewalk upgrades, façade improvements, pedestrian upgrades and public art projects were left on the table.
The discussion at the GAC on this issue was great and we look forward to continuing it. We are planning to host a larger “Community Conversation” to get as much input as possible. Stay tuned for more information.
Our next Government Affairs Committee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 15th at 12:00PM at the Keizer Chamber Office.
If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact me.
Jonathan Thompson, Chair
Government Affairs Committee, Keizer Chamber of Commerce
Cell: (503) 580-1294