Q&A Knute Buehler & Craig Wilhelm Square Off On Education

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Competing for the of state representative for House District 54, Knute Buehler and Craig Wilhelm discuss issues affecting COCC & OSU-Cascades students. Here are their responses:

craigwilhelm
The Broadside: What got you started in politics & where do you hope to end up?

Craig Wilhelm: I have been serving my country and community my entire life. When I left the Army in 2006, I felt as if I was standing on the sidelines when my community needed me most. I’m running for State REpresentative because I believe that my leadership experience and small business background will help lead Bend forward. I hope to always serve the people of Bend. I believe representation in Salem is one of the best ways our community can protect what makes this place special for all of us.

The Broadside: How has your past experience prepared you to represent the district in this position?

Craig Wilhelm: Leading 200 men and women in combat has given me valuable leadership skills in some of the toughest situations imaginable. I never asked any of my soldiers to do anything I wouldn’t do myself, and that’s how I will represent Bend over in Salem — with accountability, integrity and a pragmatic approach to our community’s challenges.
Having owned and operated a small metals recycling business through the recent economic downturn, I know what it takes to help our economy continue to grow. Cutting red tape and supporting a 4-year university in Bend will bring good paying jobs to our area. Increasing our local skilled workforce will allow small businesses to thrive.

The Broadside: If elected, what are your top priorities?

Craig Wilhelm: Although Bend’s economy is on the right track, we can do more at the state level to ensure small businesses have the resources they need to succeed and aren’t burdened by unnecessary regulations. I will be focused on reducing red tape for small business owners, as well as increasing access to capital so that local businesses can expand and offer good paying jobs early in the growth process.
Bend’s schools are good, but we can make them better. Lowering class sizes and bringing vocational education programs back to our high schools will help make Bend one of the best school districts in the state. I believe that all of our children should have the opportunity to continue their education beyond high school, and I will be focused on making sure higher education is accessible and affordable to all Oregonians.
I have a passion for veterans’ issues. The men and women who have sacrificed so much for this country without asking anything in return need our support when they come home. I will be focused on job training programs that connect skills learned in the military with the needs of businesses here in Bend. I am committed to supporting their return to our community with the services and resources they need to successfully transition back into civilian life. Veterans and their families should feel connected to their community, with their service recognized, and we should encourage them to share their stories of personal sacrifice with others.

The Broadside: The Bulletin article on Sept. 17 discussed education as a top priority for both candidates…If elected, how would your approach differ?

Craig Wilhelm: A quality education is the key to financial opportunity. The most important thing we can do to improve education for our school kids is to hire more teachers and significantly reduce class sizes. Oregon has among the most overcrowded classrooms in the country. By lowering class sizes, we can increase the individual instruction that students need to succeed. I will also fight to keep funding coming to our University and to ensure that our campus retains a separate funding stream from Corvallis, so we’re not competing for dollars. More importantly, I will work hard to restore funding to higher education and get tuition costs under control so students can afford to go to college. I’ve spent many hours talking with teachers and other educators who wake up every day dedicated to making a difference in their student’s lives. Anybody who’s spent any time near a K-12 classroom in recent years knows that we can’t improve our education system until we bring down class sizes. That is one of my top priorities, and that’s why i’m the only candidate in this race who has the support of classroom teachers and school employees.

The Broadside: What is the main difference between you and the opposing candidates?

Craig Wilhelm: I am the only candidate in this race endorsed by Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon. Bend women deserve access to all of their health care options without the interference of politicians. I believe that birth control decisions are not a boss’s business, and should remain between a woman and her doctor. As a State Representative, I will fight to protect a woman’s right to choose.
Regardless of whether you agree with me or not, voters in Bend will never have to wonder where I stand on an issue as important as this.
I’m also the only candidate in this race endorsed by the organizations that represent classroom teachers and school employees. Teachers in the classroom know that I will prioritize lowering class sizes and improving the learning environment for all Bend students.
I’m running because I love this community, and i’m dedicated to serving the people who call it home. I hope that when you get your ballot, you’ll vote to send me to Salem so that I can fight to keep Bend a special place to live.

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Knute

The Broadside: What got you started in politics & where do you hope to end up?

Knute Buehler: I have been interested in politics and public policy since I was in college. I helped organize the Perot for President campaign for Oregon in 1992. Two years later I helped guide a coalition of diverse groups that successfully passed a ballot measure which reformed Oregon’s campaign finance laws. This markedly reduced the amount of special interest money being spent in Oregon elections. I then ran for Secretary of State in 2012 and received 44% of the vote and earned endorsements from 13 of 15 major newspapers – which is unusual for a first time candidate running against a long-time incumbent. Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” I am motivated by a desire to give back to the community and state that I love and has been generous to me. I’m also a policy nerd. I enjoy public policy, issues and ideas. My only ambition is to serve and win the election in November to represent Bend in the Oregon House of Representatives with an open mind, a tolerant heart, and a thoughtful voice.

The Broadside: How has your past experience prepared you to represent the district in this position?

Buehler: I have deep Oregon roots and extensive involvement in our community. I’m a native Oregonian, I grew up in Roseburg and attended Oregon State University. At OSU, I played baseball and was the university’s first Rhodes Scholar.

As a surgeon, I solve problems for people. I helped build The Center, a patient-focused care facility in Bend.

I’ve served as an adjunct professor with Oregon State University and as a medical device inventor developing medical products sold around the world. I’ve published scientific papers and book chapters and lectured extensively in the U.S. and internationally.

As a civic leader, I serve on the budget committee for the Bend-La Pine School District and on the boards of the Ford Family Foundation, Oregon State University Foundation and the St. Charles Health System. I previously served on the boards of OSU Cascades Campus and High Desert Museum. I frequently volunteer to provide medical coverage of high school sporting events through The Center Foundation.

My experiences have prepared me to represent Bend as a State Representative. I have the ability to communicate, connect, and align public, private, and non-profit organizations to get things done. I understand what Bend and Oregon expect and what we need.

The Broadside: If elected what are your top priorities?

Buehler: 1. Help improve our schools. Bend has good schools but they can be even better. Oregon has to improve our education system if we want a stronger economy. Better schools and a strong economy go hand-in-hand. We need to focus on making higher education more accessible and affordable.

2. Help improve the climate for job creation. The recession hit Oregon and Bend particularly hard. I’ll work for policies that make it easier for existing small businesses to grow and new ones to take root.

3. Reduce partisanship in our political process. I’ll work across party lines to get things done, even if that means breaking with my own party.

The Broadside: The Bulletin article on Sept. 17 discussed education as a top priority for both candidates…If elected, how would your approach differ?

Buehler: My education plan is based on what I’ve learned listening to local educators, what I’ve witnessed as a parent, and the knowledge I’ve gained serving on the Bend La Pine school budget committee and on the boards of OSU Cascades and the Ford Family Foundation, which supports education reform efforts across the state.

My education plan for world class schools includes seven major components. I’ll share the highlights and encourage you to visit my website to read the entire plan.
Fund schools first – not last – in state budget
New investments to ensure 3rd grade reading proficiency
More classroom time and smaller classes in early grades
Better benchmarks to measure learning and reward good teachers
Connect high schools and tech sector to prepare kids for tomorrow’s economy
Ensure local access and affordability for quality higher education at COCC and OSU-Cascades
Support families so kids come to school ready to learn

The Broadside: What is the main difference between you and the opposing candidate?

Buehler: The main difference between myself and my opponent is my length and depth of community involvement, my demonstrated record of political independence compared to his record as a partisan activist, and my idea oriented campaign.

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