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Letters, Sept. 24

Chamber PACs divisive

One of many valuable comments I heard at the recent Ashland Global Peace Conference came from the Ashland Chamber of Commerce’s Sandra Slattery. She reminded us that our chamber, unlike many around Oregon and the country, doesn’t have a political action committee to fund candidates at election time. It might take positions on select issues, but it doesn’t write campaign checks of the kind that can distort a policymaker’s reflection on what’s best for the public at large.

That’s a sound and important policy. Over time, political pressure and large donations from chambers of commerce feed the sense that the interests of business communities are apart and separate from the interests of broader human communities of which they’re a part. That divide grows deeper when a predominance of politicized chambers, from the National Chamber of Commerce on down, push so hard and predictably on a two-point narrow agenda of deregulation and business tax cuts.

What makes more sense to me is the foundational belief of the Main Street Alliance (http://oregon.mainstreetalliance.org/), a national and statewide group of small and medium-size businesses. Their members are convinced that a business thrives if and when the community in which it’s located thrives in inclusive and sustainable ways. That’s the business voice that guides my thinking in Salem. It fits perfectly with the Ashland Chamber’s no-PAC policy.

I’m grateful to business leaders in my hometown for their balance and vision.

Jeff Golden, state senator,

District 3

Ashland

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