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About Just out. (Portland, OR) 1983-2013 | View Entire Issue (Dec. 1, 1995)
Just out ▼
“T he themes w e’ve dreamed” are at the
1. 1905 ▼ 15
The long run
Openly gay Vancouver councilor-elect Jim Moeller muses on
the rigors o f campaigning
at Rockaway Beach
by Inga Sorensen
“Where the Pacific Ocean is open 365 days a year!"
Y our hosts : G eoff P faff & D anny L eines
im Moeller’s ride on the campaign trail
was a bumpy one.
He had two managers quit on him
during pivotal points in the campaign; a
supporter sent out a fund-raising appeal
characterizing Moeller’s opponent as a “neo-
Nazi,” an action that landed egg on Moeller’s
face; his car was vandalized as the ballots went
out; and he was a little nervous that the long hours
dedicated to politicking might adversely affect
his relatively new relationship.
Oh yeah, an elderly woman slammed a door in
his face, too. Welcome to the wonderful world of
Despite it all, the 40-year-old chemical de
pendency counselor won his bid in November for
a seat on the Vancouver City Council, making
him that city’s first openly gay elected official.
Vancouver, which has a population of about
74,000, is snuggled in the
southwest comer of Washing
ton, just across the Oregon
border. It is a sleepy yet sprawl
ing community, blending strip
malls with forest and farm
“The Gay and Lesbian Vic
tory Fund saved my life,” ad
mits M oeller, who several
months earlier participated in
n a tio n al
organization’s training ses
sions for gay men and lesbians
who were considering bids fo>
“They taught us the nuts
and bolts of a campaign,” says
Moeller, who had never be
fore sought public office.
“They taught us things like
how to put together a week-
by-week plan, develop fund
raising goals, and all that.
When my campaign manag
ers left [one in May, due to
family business, and the other
in August, to go to school back
East], I basically had to do
everything. If I hadn’t gone to
that training, I would not have
Moeller says the fund also
contributed $3,700 to assist
his effort to defeat opponent
Ken Whitecotten, a key leader
in the group Washington for Traditional Values.
Moeller won with 53.9 percent of the vote.
In all, Moeller says, he raised $32,000 (about
$12,000 of that was in the form of in-kind dona
tions), compared to his opponent’s $7,000.
‘Typically, candidates for this position raise
between $5,000 and $ 10,000.1’ m proud so many
people wanted to help my campaign,” Moeller
says, adding that he encountered a little assis
tance he could have done without.
“One of my supporters sent out a fund-raising
letter that I was unaware of,” he says. “ In the
letter my opponent was described as a ‘neo-
Nazi,’ among other things. I was very upset when
I learned about it, because I didn’t want to run my
campaign like that. I turned over all the proceeds
generated by that letter [abou. $390] to a Chris
tian charity known as Friends in Service to Hu
As for any anti-gay rhetoric that occurred
during the campaign, Moeller says: “It really was
not an issue. It only came up once, when my
opponent sent out some literature that only high
lighted my endorsements from gay and lesbian
organizations. I had been endorsed by a variety of
groups, but these were the only things he pointed
He adds: “Vancouver is pretty sophisticated.
You have to understand that we are part of the
Portland media market, and'w e went through
Measure 9 and Measure 13 just like Oregonians
did. Voters here are very familiar with this whole
issue—and how it can be exploited— because of
The day before the ballots went out, however,
Moeller’s car— which had campaign signs on
it— sustained an estimated $1,800 in damage
from a run-in with an ax handle.
“I know this because the ax handle was left
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there. And I know it was a gay-bashing incident
because none of the other cars around mine had
been vandalized,” says Moeller, who reported
the incident to authorities.
“All that for a part-time job that pulls in about
$650 a month,” he kids. “O f course it’s so much
more than that. I want neighborhoods to be safe
and our water to be clean. I’m going to do what I
can as a city councilor to ensure that.”
Moeller, who is a Vancouver native son, has
been actively involved in many organizations,
including the Bagley Downs Neighborhood As
sociation, the Vancouver M en’s Chorus, and the
Southwest Washington Fairness Coalition.
To relax he spends time with his beau, Clark
Crawford. “We love to go for walks through
town, and we just got back from the beach, which
was really nice,” he says.
Moeller will be sworn into office in January.
His term will last for four years.
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