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Former candidate challenges Parrish in upcoming election

Rosenthal previously campaigned in 2010


One Democrat has stepped up to challenge Julie Parrish in representing District 37.

Gerritt Rosenthal, an environmental consultant, previously ran for the seat in 2010 against Joelle Davis of Tualatin and Will Rasmussen of West Linn. Rasmussen outspent his competition significantly and won the Democratic nomination.

Now Rosenthal, a 20-year Tualatin resident, has thrown his cap back in the ring.

Rosenthal

“I think that the voters deserve a choice,” Rosenthal said of his decision to run again. “It’s a very split district, and I don’t think the current legislator really represents what I would call the mainstream in that district.”

Rosenthal noted the district had a fairly equal Republican/Democratic contingent, and argued Parrish was more conservative than what he considers to be “old mainstream Oregon Republicanism.”

Parrish said she welcomed any challenger.

“The beauty of a district like 37, is that this district has always been under a microscope in this state,” Parrish said. “Everybody should have that process. Everybody should be held up in their community and have it all put out there.”

Parrish

A graduate of Reed College, Rosenthal holds a master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota, and a master’s degree in hydrology from Cornell University.

He currently serves as chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon’s Platform and Resolutions Committee and works as environmental coordinator for Onward Oregon, an online network that connects political advocacy groups and which distributes “progressive action alerts and informational alerts regarding things of Oregon interest.”

An environmental consultant for the past 40 years, Rosenthal has worked largely in the public sector, often on the county level.

“Since I’ve been a consultant, I’ve worked with governments on a number of issues,” he said, “so I’m keenly aware with how important it is to have a good, effective public involvement program.”

Rosenthal said he would primarily focus on education and economic recovery if elected to office.

“You never know how committee assignments are made, but I would probably be assigned to a land use or environmental committee, given my background there,” he said.

Rosenthal criticized what he saw as Parrish’s failure to further protections against toxins, especially for children. In 2011, Parrish famously voted against Senate Bill 695, which would have banned the chemical BPA in sippy cups and baby bottles for sale in the state, at the time demonstrating on the House floor that she had managed to find plenty of BPA-free products already on the market.

Rosenthal supported Carl Hosticka’s bid for Parrish’s seat in 2012 and said he decided enter this campaign when the Democratic candidate he expected to run this year declined to file.

The failed 2010 campaign did little to stoke his desire to return to politics on the state level.

“It was an unfortunate event,” he said of the election that pitted him against current Tualatin city councilor Joelle Davis and West Linn attorney Will Rasmussen for the Democratic nomination. During the campaign, it was revealed Rasmussen met residency requirements for filing, but had exaggerated the length of time he had lived in West Linn.

“He really had no knowledge of the district and no history of the district,” Rosenthal, a longtime Stafford resident, said. “However, he received a great deal of funding from establishment types. I think it was an error in judgment. He split the vote; he lost by a little bit. I ended up being on good terms with both of the other candidates, but it was clear that because he was getting most of the support and most of the money, it blunted the efforts of the other candidates.”

He admitted he had yet to develop a solid campaign strategy this time around.

“My goal is to not spend too much money for the primary,” he said. “I think I can probably succeed at that.”

Parrish is now in her second term. She comes from a military family, and her husband is a 23-year veteran of the Army. She continues to position herself as an advocate for veterans and their families.

“I’m absolutely dedicated to making sure we have programs in place and funding for our National Guard and soldiers, and the 300,000 some-odd veterans in the state,” she said.

“We don’t have a base community, so there’s still a lot of work to be done on that front,” she said.

Parrish hinted she had been encouraged to run for other offices, and even to consider pursuing a state Senate seat.

“I’m staying put,” she said. “Even with all the upheaval in my own caucus.”

Parrish lost a leadership position in the House Republican Caucus in February during a mid-session vote. The shift was widely seen as a reaction to Parrish’s decision to recruit an additional candidate for the emptying District 25 seat, giving outspoken conservative radio host Bill Post added competition for candidacy.

But Parrish remained undeterred by the recent negativity.

“There are a lot of things I care about that I haven’t finished yet,” she said. “Like education. In 2004, (Oregon) was ranked 40th in the nation. We’re starting to move that dial, but we’ve only moved up three ranks, essentially.”

And she is thinking globally, she said — in part by focusing on forest projects, like the Clackamas County Hardwood Forest initiative, which aims to establish a crop of a different sort with Clackamas County Parks and Forest, in a region that has mainly produced soft-wood timber.

It’s an investment in economic growth that could be more than a quarter-century away.

“If we do it right, and get the project up and moving, I’ll be old, but down the road, it’ll be a billion-dollar industry,” Parrish said.

“It’s not just about, ‘We should cut taxes’ — there’s other ways we can facilitate job creation,” she said.

And although the unemployment rate finally dipped to its lowest since the recession began, she said, creating a hardier job market has become more of an immediate concern to her as she watches her eldest son prepare for high school.

“I look at, ‘What’s the job opportunity going to be for my kids?’” she said.

But there is another reason she’s been enjoying her eventful tenure in office and is excited for it to continue.

“All my kids have been able to come down to the Capitol on school field trips, and (their) mom’s been on the House floor,” Parrish laughed. “That’s pretty cool.”



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