July 8, 2006 Gubernatorial challenger sets up shop in Ashland Ben Westlund is seeking signatures to get on the November ballot By Matthew Haulk Tidings Correspondent Oregon State Senator and Gubernatorial candidate Ben Westlund today open
Gubernatorial challenger sets up shop in
Ben Westlund is seeking signatures to get on the November ballot
Oregon State Senator and Gubernatorial candidate Ben Westlund today opens a Southern Oregon regional office located at 518 Washington St. No. — and further extends his efforts to earn a place on the November ballot. Senator Westlund arrived in Ashland on Thursday night to meet with staff and regional supporters and planned to be present at the office opening at 10 this morning.
“Westlund wants to represent all the people in Oregon, not just those in one party or one state,” said Westlund’s Campaign Manager Stacey Dycus. “He really wants to have an office in Southern Oregon where people can stop by, learn more and get involved.”
Senator Westlund must gather 18,368 valid signatures by Aug. 29 to be placed on the November ballot. According to Dycus, Westlund has so far collected 10,465 signatures, putting him well on his way to reaching the required amount by the August deadline.
Senator Westlund began his political career when he won election to the House of Representatives in 1996 as a Republican. After four terms as an Oregon State Representative Westlund was appointed to the Oregon Senate to complete the term of retiring Senator Bev Clarno. In 2004 he won election to that same seat.
On Feb. 14, 2006, Westlund dropped his Republican registration and declared his candidacy for governor.
“As an independent Ben wants to bring people together from both parties to solve problems,” said Dycus. “He doesn’t think that there is such a thing as a democrat idea or a republican idea. It can just be a good idea.”
If Westlund does collect the necessary signatures, he will face incumbent Governor Kulongoski and Republican challenger Ron Saxton.
Since his independent registration Westlund has sought to distance himself from both parties and partisan politics in general. In a recent commercial Westlund tells the viewers that “together, we can put people before politics.”
During his terms in the Oregon House of Representatives and the Oregon Senate Westlund endorsed a wide array of different bills and proposals. In 2004 Westlund endorsed Oregon Ballot measure 36, which outlawed same-sex marriages in Oregon. In 2005 he was a proponent of solar tax credits, a program to promote the use of alternative energy. According to Dycus one of his most notable accomplishments was as the architect of the Oregon Cultural Trust, first established in 2001. The Cultural Trust is funded by a system of tax cuts for individual donations, and awards grants to arts programs throughout the state.
A major part of Westlund’s current platform is fiscal reform and a restructuring of the Oregon State tax system. Westlund believes that the current system is too reliant on income taxes from individual workers and that it stifles economic growth.
In a recent interview with the Bend Weekly, Westlund is quoted as saying, “There is dumb, dumber, dumbest and then there is Oregon’s tax structure.” Westlund proposes a shift to a new sales tax and a reduction of income tax as part of a comprehensive system to offer relief to small business and individual workers.
Senator Westlund will be available to the public during the Friday opening of the Ashland office and later from noon to — p.m. as he serves lunch at the Medford homeless shelter at 125 W. Jackson Street.
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