Race heats up for seat representing C.O.

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Graphic By Spencer Light | The Broadside (Contact: slight@cocc.edu)

By Miles Flynn | The Broadside (Contact: mflynn@cocc.edu)

In a representative democracy, representatives are chosen to make governing decisions on the people’s behalf. In the case of Central Oregon, which is situated square in the center of the Second Congressional District’s westernmost border, the current representative sent to the House of Representatives is Greg Walden.

Walden is an Oregon native, University of Oregon graduate, and former radio station owner in the Hood River area. Recently, his tenure as representative has come under fire when, amid commotion surrounding the repeal of net neutrality, constituents learned about Walden’s campaign donors. Many of whom were telecommunications companies or broadcasting groups — groups who would have benefitted from net neutrality being repealed.

This, coupled with negative responses to some of his town halls held across Oregon last year, have led to many looking to the 2018 midterm elections as an opportunity to elect a new representative and change things up. Going into the primaries, there are eleven candidates (three republicans including Walden, seven democrats, and one independent).

Among the Republicans, other than incumbent Walden, stand Randy Pollock and Paul Romero. Romero is an applicant repair technician and veteran whose website espouses pro-Social Security, pro-Second Amendment, anti-tax policies and that “[a] well built wall will greatly enhance our legal immigration and protect our American Citizens.”

Pollock’s website from previous campaigns is now unavailable, but his Facebook page is public and contains many images expressing support for the President, condemnation for the investigation into President Trump’s campaign, and commemorating Breitbart.com founder Andrew Breitbart.

The list of Democrats running is much longer, as is to be expected with a Republican incumbent. These candidates are Jim Crary, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, Timothy White, Michael Byrne, Eric Burnette, Raz Mason and Jennifer Neahring. Crary’s site proposes four promises to voters: to answer any question, to not always agree on everything with everyone, to listen to constituents, and to work towards productive compromise without compromising his or his constituents’ values.

McLeod-Skinner’s campaign site describes her as a “socially progressive, fiscally responsible” candidate who has held elected office in Silicon Valley previously, and values education without debt, building strong communities, protecting dreamers, having affordable healthcare for all, and a livable wage.

White’s campaign is calling for “new, well-paying manufacturing jobs,” according to their website, and seeks to “protect our ranchers, farmers, and small businesses in the district from unreasonable government intervention.” White would also like to “stand up” to the NRA and “Big Pharma,” as well as protect veterans and dreamers.

Byrne is a stonemason and union member who wants to prioritize: the transition from fossil fuels, a better healthcare system, net neutrality, public schools, student debt relief, and “A real, sensible approach [to immigration that] will address the causes of illegal immigration rather than the side effects.”

Burnett has been the executive director of the Oregon Board of Maritime Pilots from 2014 to 2017, and has had more than thirty years of experience in the maritime industry. He intends to work toward healthcare for all, re-unionization, better veteran care, protection for dreamers, energy independence, Social Security, and better infrastructure.

Mason is campaigning on supporting working people in healthcare, legal structure, and updated tax policy, along with broaching a more serious question about emergency preparedness at all levels.

Neahring is the final democratic candidate and has spent the past three decades as a doctor. The campaign is running on: affordable healthcare, pro-Social Security and Medicare reform, affordable education and higher teacher pay, clear path to citizenship for undocumented residents, veteran care, and gun safety reform on top of mental health opportunities for youth.

Mark Roberts, the only independent candidate, has many stances that fall outside the traditional parties; he is against gun limitations and solar/wind power, but an advocate of nuclear and geothermal power. He is pro-climate change action, but not a believer that racism is a hindrance to anyone who just doesn’t believe in it.

With a closed primary (meaning any voter may only vote in the primary of their registered party) on May 15th, and a general midterm election this November, these candidates will be campaigning hard to represent the whole of Central, Eastern, Northeastern and southeastern Oregon on Capitol Hill. 

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