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Wallan in House District 6, with a warning

Medford voters have two strong candidates to choose from in House District 6, which includes most of the city.

State Rep. Kim Wallan, R-Medford, wants voters to give her a second term. Her challenger, Democrat Alberto Enriquez, says she doesn’t deserve it because she participated in the Republican walkouts that stymied important legislation in the 2020 session. We agree that the walkouts were irresponsible, but we’re inclined to give her another chance.

Wallan is a former Medford School Board member and city councilor. Raised in Klamath Falls, she holds a law degree from Willamette University and practiced for four years before raising a family.

Enriquez was born in Cuba and immigrated with his family when he was 4, growing up in Portland and attending Portland State University and Duke University. Now retired, he is a former reporter for the Mail Tribune and the Anchorage Daily News.

Both candidates are capable and sincere.

Wallan’s views tend to the conservative side, which likely appeals to voters in Medford, where Republicans outnumber Democrats. But she points to areas of agreement with the other side of the aisle — she says was one of two Republicans to vote in favor of a bill making childhood vaccines mandatory. She also says Gov. Kate Brown was right to order an initial shutdown in response to the coronavirus, although she say the Legislature should weigh in on extending emergency declarations to spread the responsibility.

Enriquez calls for more efforts to promote affordable housing, maintain access to health care through the Oregon Health Plan and push for alternative energy industries and confront climate change.

In a joint interview with the Mail Tribune Editorial Board, Wallan exhibited a thorough understanding of how the legislative process works and what can and can’t be accomplished in Salem.

Enriquez kept returning to climate change and the threat it poses, regardless of the question he was asked. The state faces many challenges, of which climate change is only one. But he came across as a single-issue candidate.

Wallan has broader government experience, and a term in Salem as well. We are not pleased that her first term was marked by joining fellow Republicans in walking off the job, or that she defends the move as necessary and justified.

Being in the minority party can be frustrating, but that’s not an excuse to refuse to do the job you were elected to do.

We think voters should reelect Wallan, but if she repeats the divisive behavior of the 2020 session, they should not do so again.

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