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John Doty enters House District 6 race

A Democratic contender in an overwhelmingly Republican House district, Medford resident John Doty thinks there is a large enough swing vote that he could beat Republican Sal Esquivel in November.

It's a very winnable seat, said Doty, a 36-year-old teacher who is making the bid for House District 6.

Doty said he thinks moderate Republicans will put politics aside and choose the candidate with the most knowledge of issues affecting the district. He cited voting patterns that allowed Democrat Dave Gilmour to defeat Republican incumbent Ric Holt in the 2002 race for county commissioner.

House District 6 has 9,887 Democrats, 15,063 Republicans and 6,370 non-affiliated voters.

Esquivel was appointed last month to replace state Sen. Lenn Hannon but decided this month to seek the House seat of outgoing Medford Rep. Rob Patridge rather than running for election to Hannon's seat in November. Esquivel, a real estate broker, is a former member of the Medford City Council.

— Doty, who has lived in the Rogue Valley since 1970, is a teacher and technology coordinator at Crossroads, an alternative high school. He has also been a teacher at Phoenix High School and was local coordinator for the campaign for Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean.

He has been a volunteer for soccer clubs and was one of the founding members of the FC (Football Club) Phoenix Club.

With education one of the most hotly debated state issues, Doty said his experience as a teacher gives him a firsthand look at what schools need to provide quality education.

I'd venture to say that in the last 10 years I spent a lot more time in classrooms than Sal has, he said.

He challenged Republicans who talk about the need to trim government waste but simultaneously say they support education, even though it has been hard hit by budget cuts.

I'm not about waste, Doty said. I'm about priorities.

He said many politicians don't know what it takes to run a classroom, particularly how necessary it is to have support staff.

Programs that help pregnant teens or provide lunches for disadvantaged students encourage them to stay in school, he said. In addition, some students need music and sports to keep them interested.

There has got to be enough peripheral activities to get kids impassioned about attending school, he said.

Doty said he is interested in other issues, from air quality to the South Medford freeway interchange project to the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter's impact on the community.

There is so much more that's part of the equation other than taxes and schools, he said.

While he expects to be criticized for never holding a public office, Doty said people with far more experience politically haven't been doing such a great job.He is also critical of the makeup of the Legislature.

There is a disproportionately large number of lawyers, business people and the retired, he said, but not that many teachers.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail