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Wright, Bates: Similar views, different directions

Senate District — Democratic candidate Alan Bates and Republican opponent Jim Wright share similar stands on the issues but say their approaches and experience set them apart in the Nov. 2 race.

Both list education as the state's No. — funding priority, followed by public safety and health care and human services. They support caps on medical malpractice suits and oppose compensation for land-use laws.

But when it comes to campaigning, the agreements between Bates, a 54-year-old Ashland physician, and Wright, a 64-year-old Medford businessman, come to an abrupt halt.

The campaign turned negative and he's continued to be negative, said Bates, referring to a flier released in September by Wright's campaign that altered one of Bates' quotes about a sales tax.

(If) the public doesn't know who to believe, they won't believe anything, he said, declining further comment about his opponent.

— Wright, who in a recent flier blamed Bates and other politicians for dragging on the last legislative session for 227 days, said he's just questioning Bates' record and priorities.

There's been absolutely nothing personal, said Wright.

Bates said being a physician and knowing how to read a &

36;12 billion budget are two assets he'll bring to the Senate if elected. He is currently the representative for House District 5.

The other thing I'm noted for up there, I suppose, is being bipartisan, he said. He said experience is essential at a crucial time for Oregon.

Wright said his background is also valuable experience.

I come from more of the business side of things and working within the means we have, he said. I believe that there are ways of incorporating business tools.

Senate District — includes Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, Jacksonville and a majority of Medford.

Bates has served in the Oregon House since 2001. He grew up in the Pacific Northwest, served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and has lived in Southern Oregon for the past 20 years.

He was chief of medicine at both Rogue Valley and Providence Medford medical centers and a board member for a group of primary care physicians. He served three terms on the Eagle Point School Board and an appointed term on the governor's task force on Quality in Education.

Wright is a 1958 graduate of Ashland Senior High School and a 1963 graduate of what is now Southern Oregon University. He is former president and current vice chairman of LTM Inc., a Medford paving and aggregate company.

He is a member of several community organizations, including the Medford chamber and RVMC Foundation board. He has also served as chairman of the Oregon Economic Development Commission and Oregon State Finance Committee.

When he was 11 or 12 years old, he was diagnosed with retinitus pigmentosa, a progressive eye disease. He stopped driving 17 years ago but said he can read with the help of technological aids.

Wright said education funding needs to be the first commitment in the Legislature's budget so schools know early on how much money they'll have to work with in the coming biennium.

He said funding could come from cuts that would weed out government inefficiencies.

I come from the less government side rather than more, he said.

Bates agreed that education must take top priority at the Legislature.

We have to fund that at a level that's adequate, he said, adding that putting 30 or more students in one classroom is not adequate funding.

That's not teaching, that's crowd control, he said.

Bates said he is strongly in favor of Measure 35, which would place a &

36;500,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits.

He said Southern Oregon, which already has trouble recruiting physicians, is going to lose more doctors without caps on malpractice suits.

Wright agreed, adding that physicians are retiring early because malpractice insurance is too costly.

Another area where they agree is Measure 37. If passed Nov. 2, it would force government agencies to either compensate some landowners for restrictive zoning laws or allow them to develop their properties.

I'm extremely worried about 37, said Bates, adding that the state's land-use laws may need tweaking but Measure 37 goes too far.

I'd say I'm opposing it, said Wright, adding that Oregonians clearly want changes.

We do need to do more than a little bit of modification to our land-use laws ' they're trying to send us a message, he said. I think we have to listen.

Alan Bates

Age:

54.

Residence:

Ashland.

Occupation:

physician, Oregon House District 5 representative 2001 to present.

Party affiliation:

Democrat.

Experience:

Eagle Point School Board, Governor's Committee for Excellence in Education, Oregon Health Services Commission.

Education:

doctor of osteopathy, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kansas City, Mo.; bachelor's, Central Washington State University.

Campaign contributions:

&

36;171,343 (including a beginning balance of &

36;49,160).

Largest contributions:

&

36;10,000 each from Oregon Nurse political action committee, Oregon AFSCME Council 75, Doctors for Healthy Communities PAC; and &

36;5,042 from Oregon Education Association.

Expenditures:

&

36;84,121 so far, primarily on surveys, brochures, fund-raising events and advertising.

Jim Wright

Age:

64.

Residence:

Medford.

Occupation:

vice chairman and former president of LTM Inc., a Medford paving and aggregate company.

Party affiliation:

Republican.

Experience:

past chairman, Oregon Economic Development Commission and Oregon State Finance Committee; past member Ashland planning council.

Education:

bachelor's, Southern Oregon State College.

Campaign contributions:

&

36;216,715 (including a beginning balance of &

36;49,240).

Largest contributions:

&

36;30,000 from the Leadership Fund, &

36;29,829 from the Oregon Victory Committee, &

36;10,000 from the Oregon Restaurant Association PAC, &

36;10,000 from the AGC Committee for Action.

Expenditures:

&

36;166,379 so far, primarily on brochures, fund-raising events, advertising and commercials.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail .