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We back Johnson, McLain, Boone

Editor’s note: With this issue, our three-person editorial board continues its endorsements of candidates in races in our coverage area. This week, we offer our views on the contests in Oregon Senate District 16; in House District 26; and in House District 29.

SENATE DISTRICT 16: BETSY JOHNSON

The four candidates competing in this sprawling district — which includes all or parts of Washington, Tillamook, Clatsop, Columbia and Multnomah counties — are incumbent state Sen. Betsy Johnson, Democrat; Bob Ekstrom of the Constitution Party; Andrew Kaza, the nominee of the Independent Party and the Working Families Party; and Perry Roll of the Libertarian Party.

It’s a crowded field, but we like Betsy Johnson here. She has served in the Oregon Legislature since first being elected in 2000 as a state representative. She began serving in the Oregon Senate in 2005, and has the experience and respect needed to make headway with legislation.

Johnson has proven her independence by breaking with the Democratic Party leadership on gun legislation last year, a stance for which she took a lot of heat. We respect her willingness to take the course she believes in, regardless of what the party hierarchy wants.

We’ve also been impressed with her level of involvement in the district. For example, she has shown up in Banks for several of the public hearings about the proposed “Salmonberry Corridor” trail between Banks and Tillamook, and stayed after the meetings to chat with residents regarding their concerns about or support for the trail.

She voted for the biggest K-12 public school budget in the state’s history; money that is helping to boost schools in the 2013-15 biennium by ensuring most of Oregon’s school districts do not have to cut school days, eliminate popular programs or put teachers on furlough.

In other issues important in her district, she stepped up as chief sponsor of an initiative to urge Congress to strengthen standards for new, safer tank cars that transport oil through the district.

Overall, Johnson has been a thoughtful, moderate voice in Salem, and we recommend she be given a fresh four-year term.

HOUSE DISTRICT 29: SUSAN McLAIN

Mark Richman, Republican, and Susan McLain, Democrat, are competing for the right to serve a two-year term as state representative in the wake of incumbent state Rep. Ben Unger’s decision earlier this year not to seek another term in House District 29, which includes Forest Grove, Cornelius and much of Hillsboro.

We believe Susan McLain stands out in this contest. We appreciate McLain’s experience as a high school teacher in Hillsboro for more than 40 years, a background that would serve her well in her efforts to effectively fund education in the district.

McLain is well-known in the community, not only as an educator but from her years as a Metro council member, where she served from 1991 to 2006.

In short, she has experience in government, understands how school funding works and appears to be in tune with the needs of the middle class.

We also value McLain’s positive outlook on the district and how it can be improved. For example, she has focused on boosting small businesses, and we agree with her that the success of small businesses is often one of the most important factors in maintaining a healthy economy. McLain appears most likely to support several of the priorities we believe are important for the district: school funding, preserving green space, support for transit projects and preservation of farmland.

Too often, Richman came across as a naysayer. “Right now, incentives to our county’s economic health are being threatened, our schools are failing too many children, and the drumbeat to erode our public safety continues,” he responded to our question about why he decided to run for the office. In addition, he indicated he believes engaging local citizens in transit planning would be “a recipe for planning gridlock.”

Overall, Richman presented a somewhat dark view of what’s going on in the district, and his stances hinted he would take a partisan approach to legislating — not what our state needs from its legislators.

We believe the scale clearly tips toward McLain in this race, and recommend voters give her the chance to serve as the district’s next state representative.

HOUSE DISTRICT 32: DEBORAH BOONE

The candidates in House District 32, which stretches from Banks and the outskirts of Forest Grove to Astoria, Seaside and Tillamook, are incumbent state Rep. Deborah Boone, a Democrat from Cannon Beach, and Rick Rose, Republican, from Warrenton.

Despite the obvious error in her official Home Page, in which state Rep. Deborah Boone’s greeting reads: “I am proud to represent Oregon House District 32, covering Clatsop and the northern half of Tillamook counties” — mistakenly leaving off Washington County — we believe the incumbent deserves re-election.

Boone has served as the district’s representative since 2004 and has been solid, if not spectacular.

She serves as vice chair on the House Interim Committee on Energy and Environment and is a member of the House Interim Committee on Veterans’ Services and Emergency Preparedness, an assignment with special relevance to a district that includes a long stretch of Pacific Ocean shoreline.

In fact, Boone points to the importance of public safety as one of the driving forces behind her service in the Oregon Legislature. When asked what she sees as the biggest issues in the 32nd District, Boone did not hesitate: “Being prepared for the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami event and to help build our economy with good family-wage jobs,” she wrote.

And unlike some other politicians, Boone did not try to have it both ways and dodge explaining how she intends to vote on controversial Ballot Measure 92, regarding whether genetically modified organisms should be labeled.

“GMO labeling is very common in many other countries and seems to be working fine,” she said, while expressing support for Measure 92.

We like Boone’s experience, and, in response to our question about representing a district with a vast geographical area, she pointed with pride to the fact she puts “about 30,000 miles per year on my car attending meetings and visiting with constituents in my district.”

Conversely, Rose suggested only “monthly conference calls with local mayors and city councils” in addition to “virtual and physical town halls” as a way to stay connected with the district’s constituents.

Rose also charged that “care for our elderly is in a sad state of affairs,” and elsewhere wrote that every day he sees “firsthand the effects of poor legislation, taxation and misrepresenting the will of the people,” although he offered no specifics and no concrete solutions to correcting these alleged deficiencies in our government processes.

All things taken into account, we believe Boone has earned another term as the district’s state representative.

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