Independent Candidate Drops Governor's Race Bombshell: Independent Party of Oregon nominee for governor Patrick Starnes gave incumbent Gov. Kate Brown a big boost one week before Election Day. On Oct. 30, Starnes, a cabinetmaker from Brownsville who had been running on a platform of campaign finance reform, told Brown he was quitting the race and would endorse her. That's a major development in a race pundits call a tossup between Brown and Republican nominee Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend). The Independent Party boasts 4.4 percent of the registered voters in Oregon. Starnes told Brown his decision stemmed from his dismay at the $2.5 million Nike co-founder Phil Knight has funneled into Buehler's campaign. The race has already eclipsed $30 million in total spending, shattering the previous record of $18 million set in 2010.

Oregonian Readers Call for Boycott After Joey Gibson Column: Portland activists pledged to boycott local businesses that advertise in The Oregonian after the paper published a Sunday opinion column headlined "The misunderstood Joey Gibson," writing favorably about the Vancouver, Wash., leader of the right-wing extremist group Patriot Prayer. The backlash—2,200 people have signed an online petition—echoed outrage from prominent Portlanders about the opinion column, which described Gibson—who has led right-wing protesters into Portland for two years to brawl with antifascists—as a peaceful, spiritual figure. Multnomah County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury denounced The Oregonian on Twitter for running the column, and Mayor Ted Wheeler also joined in, more carefully. Editorial pages editor Laura Gunderson said it's the paper's responsibility to publish a variety of viewpoints, but she also expressed remorse. "It would have benefited, in hindsight, with more context from Gibson's Portland protests," she said. "We also regret the timing of the column, which was edited on the Friday before the shootings in Pittsburgh."

Homeless Deaths Continue at Same Rate: Even as Portland and Multnomah County have sharply increased spending on homeless services, the number of people who have died while living on the streets has stayed the same. In 2017, 79 homeless people died in Multnomah County, according to the official tally released Tuesday—while 80 died in 2016. County officials expect to see a similar number of deaths in 2018, based on the data so far this year. The average age for local homeless men at death in 2017 was 48; for women it was 41—decades younger than the average life expectancy. Multnomah County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury called for further investments, particularly in housing bundled with treatment. "In order to prevent people from dying on our streets," Kafoury wrote, "we must ensure every person has access to decent, affordable housing and to health care that includes mental health and addiction treatment."

Bitter Battle Over Blank Ballot: Voters may notice there is no candidate listed on their Nov. 6 general election ballots for a vacancy on the board of the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District in Zone 1. But three candidates met an Oct. 23 deadline to qualify as write-in candidates: Paula Gagnon, who holds a similar office in Clackamas County; Gabrielle Rossi, a member of an east county farming family; and Rachelle Dixon, vice chair of the Multnomah County Democrats. The competition is fierce, with Dixon battling an attempt to knock her out of the contest for not meeting eligibility requirements, including owning or managing at least 10 acres of land in the district. Dixon says she does meet the requirements, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, which oversees the district, is now re-evaluating. "Please realize misinformation is a tactic," Dixon wrote in a Facebook post, "a desperate tactic."