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Our Opinion: Lininger has Lake Oswego's back

It’s interesting, we think, that the phone calls and emails we get from Ann Lininger usually have nothing to do with policy or politics, and that our conversations with the state representative tend to focus more on what’s happening in Lake Oswego than what she’s doing in Salem.

Sure, there are the occasional Citizen’s Views about her legislative priorities. We know that she cares deeply about increasing economic opportunities for all Oregonians, strengthening public schools, preventing gun violence and protecting the environment. We’ve followed her efforts to fine-tune the implementation of Measure 91, too.

But more often than not, Lininger just wants to talk about the debate team she helped coach at Lake Oswego Junior High. Or she wants to share a video of the Lake Oswego High School football team’s first touchdown of the season.

Talk to Ann Lininger for just a few minutes and you quickly understand that she is deeply invested in our community, and that her life here as a wife, mother, attorney and volunteer informs everything she does as a state representative in Salem. She has our back, and that’s why we believe she deserves your vote in the race for House District 38.

Let’s be clear: We’re not happy about Lininger’s support of Measure 97, the corporate tax measure that we — and the nonpartisan Legislative Revenue Office — maintain will impact the very families that Lininger says she’s fighting for. It’s hard to reconcile her pledge to expand the state’s job base with her defense of a measure that could force many Oregon companies to raise prices or slash jobs. Add to that her support of Oregon’s historic minimum wage increase and she clearly isn’t a proponent of helping Oregon’s business community grow.

Our fear here is that Lininger is simply caving to pressure from public employee unions and her Democratic colleagues, and that this is just a matter of political expediency for her. Frankly, that would be a surprise, because we’ve long admired Lininger's willingness to cross party lines on any number of issues and fight for bipartisan solutions; we have seen her work to build consensus, for example, on growing Oregon’s agricultural economy, improving the state’s response to sexual assault crimes and helping survivors of domestic violence.

What a disappointment it would be to see her simply acquiesce on this crucial issue.

Lininger says she knows Measure 97 isn’t perfect, though; there is “no silver bullet,” she says, and she insists that she’s ready to “roll up my sleeves and get to work” on adjustments to the proposal if it passes — or to find a better source of stable funding for education, health care and seniors if it doesn’t.

“Measure 97 is not the final word,” she says.

We’ll have to take her at her word on that. But we do find some comfort in the role she played as co-chair of the legislative committee that fine-tuned Measure 91 after voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2014. Lininger did work across the aisle to find the best solutions for implementing the will of voters, and our hope is that she’ll continue to play that role in the future.

Lininger’s opponent in the race for HD38, Republican Patrick De Klotz, has made the need for bipartisan solutions a keystone of his campaign. He rails against divisiveness in politics and the resulting stalemate on major issues; he says he would be a voice for individuals and small businesses, not just special interests and big corporations.

But De Klotz has no real legislative experience, and that shows when you try to pin him down on policy specifics. Ask him about climate change, for example, and he’ll tell you that “we are going to have to establish a climate of trust in Salem and in Washington in order to rise to the challenge of addressing it in an impactful way.”

That’s a great sound bite, but we’re not really sure how that — or any of a number of his policy positions — would translate into real action if De Klotz were to be elected.

Even though Lininger’s support of the business community is sorely lacking, she does bring valuable experience to the table, not just in Salem but also as a former Clackamas County commissioner. She understands the process, and she has nurtured a reputation among her colleagues for having the kind of intelligence, passion and determination that increasingly makes her a key player.

That’s good for Oregon. It’s good for Lake Oswego. And it’s why Ann Lininger deserves your vote.

— The Review