Election preview: Legislative races

Legislative Races Question 1: Drugs and drug-related crimes, affordable health care, education quality and funding, taxes and the economy, and regulation of state spending -- these are five major i

Legislative Races

Question 1: Drugs and drug-related crimes, affordable health care, education quality and funding, taxes and the economy, and regulation of state spending -- these are five major issues on voters' minds. Pick one of these and give us, briefly, your ideas for implementing positive change.

Question 2: How can individual citizens in your district make it a better place to live?

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Senate District 10

Paul Evans (Democrat).

Home: Monmouth.

Occupation: Adjunct instructor, Western Oregon University; community liaison, Central School District.

Elected office experience: Monmouth City Council 1988-1992, Monmouth mayor 1999-2002.

More information: www.paulevans2006.com.

Answer 1: Growing up in Monmouth, I was taught that serving others is our most important responsibility. Citizenship requires us to uphold our obligations to the future.

Our community's greatest responsibility is providing our children with the education to build a better life for themselves, a better world for others. We can help children succeed by:

* Making good on our promises of smaller class sizes, high academic expectations, and continuous improvement.

* Modernizing overcrowded, outdated schools facilities and equipment.

* Securing our schools and making our neighborhoods safer.

* Promoting vocational apprenticeships/education, and career workforce training.

* Requiring a citizenship test for K-12 graduates, teaching the next generation what it means to be an American, an Oregonian.

We must meet our obligation and construct a stronger community to pass on to the next generation. Our future depends upon our willingness to reclaim that vision of Oregon for our own children.

Answer 2: As citizens, we are obligated to steward our freedoms with fidelity and passion. Each of us must fulfill our obligations to our families, but we can also find ways to devote time, talent, and treasure in each other and our community. It's what makes Polk County -- and Oregon -- special.

Over the past 15 years, I have been blessed with many opportunities to serve as a mayor, a volunteer firefighter, a military officer, and teacher. Ultimately, how we serve is less important than the choice to serve.

There are countless opportunities to make our community an even better place: mentoring activities, foster parenting, volunteer fire and police reserves, advisory boards, and service clubs. Seek out something that you would enjoy and a group that shares your values -- and begin.

Your help matters. We're in this together, and together we can renew the spirit and promise of Oregon.

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Jackie Winters (Republican).

Home: Salem.

Occupation: Small business owner, state senator.

Election office experience: Oregon Senate 2003-2006, Oregon House 1999-2003.

More information: www.jackiewinters.com.

Answer 1: The number of people affected by methamphetamine in our community is staggering, and I have seen its effects first hand. I went on a drug raid with local law enforcement and I was struck by the devastation meth has on a family. The image of children playing in a home where deadly chemicals were just feet away is an image I won't soon forget. The day was a very sobering experience.

Working to implement positive change in the fight against drugs and drug-related crimes is a priority for me. I have worked with my Republican, Democrat and Independent colleagues to secure funding from public and private resources to help pay for a multi-level methamphetamine strike force targeting mid and upper level drug dealers.

Together we also passed ground-breaking legislation which uses biometric technology and fingerprinting on Oregon driver's licenses to reduce identity theft, a by-product of the drug trade.

Answer 2: Citizens can make a positive difference in our community by being involved in local organizations that benefit the needs of the citizens living here. My parents taught me the value of community service as a young girl. I learned how important this was first hand as my family was living in Vanport when it flooded. The local community was very helpful in getting us back on our feet and it is something I have never forgotten.

I carried this lesson to my job as the state ombudsman helping my fellow Oregonians solve issues with state agencies. And I continue to recognize that communities are strong and productive through the involvement and work of friends and neighbors like you and me.

Furthermore, I believe one person can make a difference and when and individual looks at challenges as opportunities great things can and do happen.

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House District 20

Vicki Berger (Republican).

Home: Salem.

Occupation: Retired small business owner, state representative.

Elected office experience: Oregon House 2003-2006, Salem-Keizer School Board 1989-1992.

More information: www.vickiberger.net.

Answer 1: School funding has been the single most contentious issue during my two terms at the Legislature. With a unique state tax structure which is dominated by a single source of funds -- the income tax -- our schools have had to ride a roller coaster of economic conditions.

My work at the Legislature has been directed to address this issue two ways:

(1) Building our job base. We can compete in a global marketplace if we are smart in maximizing our unique assets. This means using our expertise in lean manufacturing, clean energy, food processing, and forest management.

(2) Planning for the bad times by building a reserve (rainy day fund) for the good times. The 2001 session created the Education Stability Fund. This effort needs to be broadened and further defined so our schools are not left devastated by the next bad turn in the inevitable economic cycle.

Answer 2: Vote. When defining our country's democracy, our forefathers envisioned a system of self-governance where civic participation was expected. We, the citizens, were entrusted with the authority to maintain a representative government.

That responsibility is passed to each generation to practice. The local level -- in our neighborhoods, schools, cities, and counties -- is where we can make the most individual impact. Many elections are decided by just a handful of votes; every vote counts.

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Connie Garcia (Democrat).

Home: Independence.

Occupation: Retired teacher, adjunct instructor, Chemeketa Community College.

Elected office experience: None.

More information: www.conniegarcia2006.com.

Answer 1: We can make a huge difference in education by changing the way we fund it, and that means fixing our broken tax system. If we suspend the corporate kicker and set it aside in a rainy day fund, plug loopholes so that tax dodgers pay what they owe, and ask corporations to pay their fair share instead of the outdated $10 annually most pay today, we could decide to use the money to reduce classroom sizes, put more teachers in classrooms and fund underfunded programs like Head Start.

The Chalkboard Project promotes early childhood education, and as an educator with 29 years of experience in the classroom I know it makes economic sense to emphasize children's crucial first years through third grade, making sure they can read and are healthy enough to learn so they can take care of themselves later in life.

Answer 2: School is the one institution every individual has to attend, whether private or public. This is the logical place to teach civics and community involvement. It should start in kindergarten and continue throgh high school.

I realize that as a teacher I would be the first to say, "Great, one more thing for us to do." But with parent and business involvement it can be done. This would instill a sense of community and partnership that would bring the community together. It would help build the high school senior's resume and could be helpful in the senior project that is now required to graduate.

I know there are teachers who already do some of this, but we need to take it to the next level and involve more people. It's about empowering the individual, inspiring a "can-do" attitude and rewarding it.

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House District 23

Brian Boquist (Republican).

Home: Dallas.

Occupation: Small business owner, farmer, military reserve officer.

Elected office experience: Oregon House 2005-2006.

More information: www.leg.state.or.us/boquist.

Answer 1: The most pressing local issue is drug related crime. Meth has spurred problems in schools, child support, identity theft and property crimes. Even if a local citizen is not directly impacted they feel the effect based on problems in the community.

The last legislative session passed feel good legislation but failed to provide any real local support. It was fine to provide legal "tools." but not a single additional dime went to local governments to fight the problem.

I will re-file my bill from last session requesting the State fund a $40 million dollar comprehensive statewide response. It would provide push grants to every city and county in the State. It would address prevention, education, enforcement, prosecution and drug treatment via drug courts.

The response must be statewide and simultaneous thus stamping it out in every community at the same time. It is time to get serious.

Answer 2: Oregon will be better place to live when local citizens start volunteering to help. We cannot expect the state, or even local government, to solve all our problems. This nation was made great because people pitched in to solve problems and faced hardships together.

Every citizen can do his or her part. Fire departments need volunteers to fight fires. Local food banks not only need donations but volunteers to help serve. Water districts need board members. Schools need volunteers to help in classrooms and elsewhere. Churches and foundations that help the needy are always looking for volunteers.

Join a service club. Reach out and help a neighbor, or even a person you don't know. It takes personal responsibility and communities working together without state government if we are to make a better Oregon.

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Jason Brown (Democrat).

Home: Dallas.

Occupation: Computer professional, small farmer, entrepreneur.

Elected Office experience: None.

More information: brownforhouse.org.

Answer 1: The economy is central to most issues Oregonians are concerned about. We need a change in direction to attract good corporate citizens, create more successful local businesses and more living wage jobs.

Attempting to attract big businesses from out-of-state with the lowest corporate tax rate in America has failed. The result has been difficulty funding basic public services like law enforcement and education. While everyone likes low taxes, many things are more important to corporations that actually want to invest our community. Businesses need public and private resources and services that provide them the tools they need for success.

Good corporate citizens will not mind paying fair but higher taxes if the money is invested in key infrastructure like good schools. Such investments also help local businesses succeed. Big corporations should pay their fair share so we can invest in key infrastructure to assure everyone's success.

Answer 2: Have integrity in your personal life and remember that it comes before your public life.

Support your community and democracy by having a public life. Remember that democracy is not a spectator sport. Individuals can only make a difference by becoming involved and the best place to exercise your involvement is in your local community.

Figure out what issues you are most passionate about and work with others who share your passion. Remember that we all have good ideas, but none of us has all the answers. We need to work with others to find common sense solutions that everyone can live with.

Also keep in mind that building a better future is not just about solving the problems we face, but also about creating a positive vision of the future. If the vision is a good one, others will work along with you to build it.

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Paul Delaney (Libertarian)

Home: Willamina.

Occupation: Heavy equipment operator.

Elected office experience: None.

(No response received.)

House District 24

Donna Nelson (Republican).

Home: McMinnville.

Occupation: State representative.

Elected office experience: Oregon House 2001-2006.

More information: www.leg.state.or.us/nelsond.

Answer 1: State spending has grown several times faster than Oregon's population and the income of hard-working Oregonians. It is time to support my legislative bill to prioritize the critical needs of the state and designate specific funding sources for each. We need streamlined services and agency management that commits to zero-based budgeting.

It is time to offer competitive bidding for government service provisioning; to reduce the overhead of agencies; and to eliminate surplus properties, ineffective practices and programs.

It is time to collect all receivables; to convert PERS to a plan commensurate with that in the business sector; to pass Measure 48 to cap spending tied to population and inflation growth and establish a rainy day fund; and to tie the state tax code to the federal code to provide relief to our citizens.

It is time to give local control to schools; to address illegal immigration and its costs, and to promote alternate energy sources. It is time we live within an accountable budget like our citizens do.

Answer 2: Continue your caring, generous support of our non-profit organizations and needy causes. Honor and value our veterans and our troops who have secured our future, and work to secure theirs through emergency funds.

Respect and protect our seniors who've dug the well we're drinking from; do all you can to assist them and reduce their burdens. Be generous and supportive to those with disabilities and our most vulnerable citizens.

Support your country, keep your high moral values, revere our Constitution. Protect the unborn. Keep Christ in Christmas. Fight crime and strive for healthy neighborhoods.

Work hard, save, be a leader and a positive influence for what's good. Continue your impressive volunteerism. Teach kids to read. Be mentors.

Prepare for emergencies and catastrophic situations. Require that all children receive excellence in education. Help Oregon generate a business-friendly state. Maintain an infrastructure that conducts vibrant livability. Eliminate prejudice.

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David Terry (Libertarian).

Home: McMinnville.

Occupation: Semi-retired sales manager.

Elected office experience: Former secretary, Libertarian Party of Oregon.

More information: del.icio.us/LSNN/David_Terry.

Answer 1: To any objective observer, irrespective of which party controls the legislature, it is totally out of control.

I see no alternative to placing a strict ceiling on spending into the Oregon Constitution.

I support Measure 48 unequivocally! Contrary to claims by opponents, Oregon's proposed spending cap bears little resemblance to the TABOR legislation passed in Colorado. The essential difference is that the law in Colorado, unlike Measure 48, expressly prohibited the establishment of a "rainy day fund" and required all revenue to be spent or returned to the taxpayers. If Oregon is to have a reserve fund for REAL emergencies, it can only happen if this measure is passed.

Further, I will support legislation to require a "zero-based" budgeting system, wherein each agency of government must justify its budget before one dollar is appropriated and I will require performance audits of every department at least every other bienium.

Answer 2: I firmly believe that only individual citizens can make Oregon a better place to live. Voluntary, cooperative actions are the only way that societies progress. The greatest contribution that government can make is to stop being an impediment.

Government exists for the sole purpose of protecting the liberties, lives and property of its citizens - to provide a fair and equitable playing field, not a level one. Citizens have both the right and the responsibility of making the decisions and choices that will effect their lives and their families. It is not the province of government to make those choices for us and, in effect, live our lives for us.

We, as a society, have increasingly surrendered our sovereignty and liberty to the state and have become dependents of it, rather that directors of it. Like most addictions each successive" fix" to fill a need has simply made us more needy.

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Sal Peralta (Democrat).

Home: McMinnville.

Occupation: Computer systems administrator.

Elected Office experience: None.

More information: www.peraltafororegon.org.

(No response received for this overview.)

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