No on Measure 97
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Holmes Report

No on Measure 97

Large and well-financed out-of-state organizations targeted Oregon and Washington to pass a measure that was unworkable and would have done extensive damage to the agriculture community in the state.

Paul Holmes

 The No on Measure 97 campaign overcame many obstacles when it was eventually defeated in November 2000.  Large and well-financed out-of-state organizations targeted Oregon and Washington to pass a measure that was unworkable and would have done extensive damage to the agriculture community in the state.  Four states had previously passed this same measure: California, Massachusetts, Colorado and Arizona.  
The challenge during the campaign was to bring a diverse group of agriculture leaders together and keep everyone on the same message.  While the supporters of the measure went to great lengths to convince voters the measure was narrow in scope, the measure’s text was so broad that many from the agriculture community believe rodeos and veterinary tools would be banned.  This proved a challenge in the fact that all of the separate participants from the agriculture community each wanted to drive their own message.  The campaign focused on just two: the measure was so extreme it would have banned mole and gopher traps and the measure would ban necessary predator control traps to protect sheep from coyotes.
After polling and research, the campaign moved quickly to define its message.  A one-page color brochure was created to focus the campaign’s messages.  The brochure originally listed 12 points – from highest polled message to least polled message to present to the coalition and media the case for rejecting Initiative Petition 81 (the official number before enough signatures were collected to certify a measure number).  This page with others were mailed to newspapers statewide as the first real media outreach for the campaign.  
The campaign mailed a press packet including the one page brochure, list of opponents, Oregon Fish & Wildlife Trapping informational sheets and information on the damage done to crops by moles and gophers.  This packet was mailed to about 50 newspapers across Oregon.  The coalition was seeking negative media (mostly editorials) about Initiative Petition 81 and some positive press about the coalition’s position.  Neither were highly reported or editorialized.  The trapping issue was too low a priority and too many measures on the November 2000 ballot kept editorial writers from giving the trap ban print.  Personal phone calls and drop in visits kept the issue from being lost.
To counter the problem of not enough media attention, the coalition turned to placing editorials written by trap ban opponents in papers throughout Oregon.  Former Fish & Wildlife Commissioners Jim Habberstad, Jim Van Loan drafted editorials that the campaign distributed.  These editorials, outlining the basics problems of the trap ban and the reasons why the measure should be defeated was printed in: The Dalles Chronicle, June 20; Roseburg News-Review, June 20; Pendleton, East Oregonian, June 21;, June 26; The Capital Press, July 14; Bend, The Bulletin, June 27.   Also Bob Jacobson, also a former commissioner, submitted guest editorials to Brookings, Curry Coastal Pilot, July 5; Tillamook, Headlight Herald, July 5; Newport, News Times, July 5; Reedsport, Courier, July 6.
The coalition took the position early in the campaign on who should be spokespersons.  According to polling, the most credible spokespersons were former commissioners and biologists from the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife and ranchers and sheep growers.  
The coalition partners were given a sheet on how to talk with the media.  Partners were requested to ask the reporter for the deadline, name, and questions reporter wishes to ask.  Partners were then asked (in most cases told) to call the campaign office, pass information to media coordinator and not to answer any questions from the media.  In a few situations, and process did not work, most times the process worked perfectly and control of the message was effective.
The campaign’s approach from the beginning of the campaign was to define and then control our message all the way through election day.  This was conducted through media trainings, editorial board interviews and radio and television news interviews and talk shows.  All were effective in focusing our supporters and the general public to become aware of the campaign’s main messages.  
Two media trainings were held.  One in Lake Oswego; one in Eugene. Participants consisted of sheep growers, former commissioners of Fish & Wildlife Department and a limited number of trappers.  Trainings were held to help average people through media experiences and to confirm the most effective spokespeople for the campaign.
Editorial Board visits consisted of a former commissioner, a trapper, retired Major Roy Hyder (Oregon State Police – Wildlife Division) and staff.  Most of the time multiple people visited with the editorial board.  On few occasions in southern Oregon, just Hyder and staff met with the editor.
On most occasions, Roy Hyder traveled to the radio station or location to be interviewed or for a joint appearance.  Many times, Jim Habberstad, a former Fish & Wildlife commissioner, conducted a radio interview or media interview by telephone.  Either way, the campaign made every effort to send a credible spokesperson to the media at every opportunity.
Measure 97 was defeated on November 7, 2000, 59% to 41%.  20 editorial boards supported the no side compared to one for the yes side.  All of the major dailies and weeklies endorsed the no position.  Only a small paper in Eastern Oregon endorsed the measure. 
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