HD 23 race gets interesting

Write-in candidate adds to already intense campaign season

Election 2014


Election 2014

POLK COUNTY — The race for House District 23 has been nothing if not exciting.

We’ve already seen an intense primary produce an upset, with Independence-area resident Mike Nearman ousting incumbent Jim Thompson for the Republican nomination. Then, Dallas resident Beth Jones, also a Republican, sought the Independent Party of Oregon’s nomination, only to withdraw later.

Now, add another wrinkle: Thompson is back in the race, this time as a write-in candidate.

That brings the list of candidates in the race to five: Nearman, Thompson, Democrat Wanda Davis, Green Party candidate Alex Polikoff and Libertarian Mark Karnowski.

Thompson’s write-in campaign launched this month after supporters, namely Lynnette and Gene Henshaw, organized a political action committee, Friends and Neighbors for a Safe and Prosperous Community.

Thompson said the motivation behind the campaign is in response to Nearman’s positions, which some in the Republican Party see as too far to the right. Thompson added that write-in campaigns are an uphill battle, but given the low voter turnout in the primary election, he said there’s room for a surprise.

“I would be honored to serve,” he said.

Opponents Davis and Polikoff said the development is more evidence of unrest in the local Republican Party.

“They are quite dissatisfied with their nominee,” Polikoff said. “That is the main reason it’s garnering interest.”

Davis agreed, saying now that Republicans have taken a close look at Nearman’s positions, some have decided to take action.

Nearman, for his part, said he can’t speak to the motivations of others and is simply staying focused on his campaign and what he is hearing from voters.

He said if elected, he believes one of the first issues to be tackled is Cover Oregon, whether the exchange should be dissolved and responsibilities handed off to other agencies.

“If I had my druthers, I would decommission it right away,” he said.

He’s also heard concern about education. Nearman said voters support spending more money on education, but want accountability for improvement attached.

“There needs to be some strings attached for better outcomes — longer school years, smaller classes, more programs,” he said, including electives and technical classes in that mix. “That’s the stuff that makes education interesting.”

Davis said she would focus on economic development as her highest priority.

That would call for investing in schools — she equates a well-educated public to “intellectual infrastructure” — to produce the next generation of entrepreneurs who will put other people to work.

“We have a lot of problems and the vast majority would be solved if we got people to work,” she said.

In District 23, that could mean tourism, particularly agritourism involving area wineries.

Davis added, if elected, she would want to be a conduit for the ideas and issues coming out of District 23.

“That’s what I want to do, be the voice for my district, because they are experts,” she said.

Polikoff said in his experience on the campaign trail, he has heard concerns over health care and jobs.

He believes the answer to those two problems are universal health care and a state bank, where loans to small businesses would be easier to acquire.

He said when voters are asked about health care and what they would prefer — access to affordable coverage — a single payer system is what would work the best.

“These are good ideas,” he said. “The people are behind them, but the question is can we marshal the political will to make them happen? I believe it would be my job to do that.”

Thompson said the biggest concern facing District 23 is the economy. He said solutions are hard to find, but he has worked on behalf of the wine industry, created legislation making land use decisions less cumbersome, and provided a key vote on a bill reducing taxes for small businesses.

“I have had great success working across party lines when necessary to achieve results,” he said.

State Representative, District 23

photo

Wanda Davis

Name: Wanda Davis.

Age: 55.

Hometown: Dallas.

Party affiliation: Democrat.

Position sought: Oregon House of Representatives, District 23.

Area of representation: Portions of Polk, Benton and Yamhill counties, including Dallas, Rickreall, Perrydale, Pedee and Kings Valley.

Current employment: Oregon Health Authority.

Education: Dallas High School (1977); U.S. Navy Electronics Schools (1979).

Prior government experience: None.

Campaign phone: 503-508-1428.

Campaign website: http://wandadavis4oregonhouse23.nationbuilder.com.

Why are you running for office? “By serving the district in the legislature, I believe I can make a difference in the lives of Oregonians. We used to believe anybody could make it by working hard. That’s no longer the case and it must change before we turn this world over to the next generations.”

What is the biggest single issue facing the state, and Polk County in particular? How would you address it if elected? “The poor economy and a lack of jobs are our biggest issues. If the economy were better, many of our other problems would sort themselves out. Manufacturing is starting to return to the United States. We have sites available in Polk County and other parts of the district where businesses can expand, bringing jobs to our communities. I’ll work with others to level the playing field for small businesses. Big business has all the advantages. It’s time the little guys had a friend in the legislature.”

photo

Mike Nearman

Name: Mike Nearman.

Age: 50.

Hometown: Independence.

Party affiliation: Republican.

Position sought: Oregon House of Representatives, District 23.

Area of representation: Portions of Polk, Benton and Yamhill counties, including Dallas, Rickreall, Perrydale, Pedee and Kings Valley.

Current employment: Software engineer at Supra Products.

Education: Marquette University (Bachelor of Arts, liberal arts, 1987); Western Oregon University (Bachelor of Science, computer science, 2009).

Prior government experience: Central School District Budget Committee (2012-present).

Campaign phone: 971-273-3412.

Campaign website: www.NearmanForOregon-.com.

Why are you running for office? “We keep paying more and more for government and keep getting less and less — from health care websites, to freeway bridges, to local public education. I want to go to Salem and represent taxpayers who need and deserve the basic government services so that we can get our economy going again.”

What is the biggest single issue facing the state, and Polk County in particular? How would you address it if elected? “We need profitable, private-sector economic activity. I’d like to fight against a culture of economic regulation that stifles jobs, especially for those on the lower end of the economic scale. We don’t need to increase taxes on energy, especially gas. We don’t need to interfere with market allocations of wages and benefits for workers. We need to think twice before we enact more environmental regulations that restrict economic activity. We need to re-establish a top-notch education system in which educators and institutions are accountable, and students and parents have choices.”

photo

Alex Polikoff

Name: Alex Polikoff.

Age: 56.

Hometown: Corvallis.

Party affiliation: Pacific Green.

Position sought: Oregon House of Representatives, District 23.

Area of representation: Portions of Polk, Benton and Yamhill counties, including Dallas, Rickreall, Perrydale, Pedee and Kings Valley.

Current employment: Electrical engineer for the past 14 years.

Education: University of California-Berkeley (Bachelor of Science, electrical engineering, 1980).

Prior government experience: Corvallis Rural Fire Protection District Board of Directors (current).

Campaign phone: 541-745-3967.

Campaign website: www.alexpolikoff.com.

Why are you running for office? “To give voters a choice outside of the two-party politics they’ve grown tired of. I would like to be a voice for our community instead of the corporations and special interests who have hijacked both our elections and our legislative process.”

What is the biggest single issue facing the state, and Polk County in particular? How would you address it if elected? “Working people losing ground. I would try to address it by raising the minimum wage, universal health care that gets rid of health insurance companies, an Oregon State Bank so farmers and small businesses can get the credit they need, and by requiring corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. Part of the problem is all the money influencing our elections and legislative process; I would work on that by sponsoring legislation on public campaign financing as well as Instant-Runoff Voting so Oregonians can vote their conscience and politicians are elected by a true majority of the people.”

photo

Jim Thompson

Name: Jim Thompson.

Age: 67.

Hometown: Dallas.

Party affiliation: Write-in candidate.

Position sought: Oregon House of Representatives, District 23.

Area of representation: Portions of Polk, Benton and Yamhill counties, including Dallas, Rickreall, Perrydale, Pedee and Kings Valley.

Current employment: Oregon State Legislator (three terms).

Education: Taft High School, Lincoln City (1965); Oregon College of Education, biology and English (1969); Oregon State University, graduate work botany.

Prior government experience: Monmouth City Council, 1982-86; Polk County Fire District Board of Directors, 1986-1990; appointed state representative to finish the term of a vacated seat, 2003; and elected state representative, 2008-present.

Campaign phone: 503-623-2764.

Campaign website: www.JimforHouse.com.

Why are you running for office? “I enjoy working with and for the constituents of my district — especially solving problems for constituents who are having difficulty navigating state agencies. Many times constituents run afoul of state bureaucrats and are at the disadvantage of not knowing where to turn for help.”

What is the biggest single issue facing the state, and Polk County in particular? How would you address it if elected? “Our biggest single issue is the economy and how to stimulate a new economic base in the face of recession and a much reduced forest industry contribution. The economy has an added impact in Polk County because the loss of O&C timber revenue and a sagging general economy has impacted our ability to provide adequate law enforcement protection, the result being an increasing crime rate and difficulty attracting economic investment into rural areas of the county with no sheriff’s protection for much of the time. An increasing crime rate and lack of ability to attract new investment worsens our problem.”

Commenting has been disabled for this item.

News from the Itemizer-Observer and our community partners