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Retain Hannon

Local editorial

We need his experience and his independence in the 2003 session

Virginia Lemon is a bright, committed, serious Democrat challenging veteran Republican Lenn Hannon for the Oregon Senate from District 3. If Hannon weren't in the race, voters could do worse than mark her name on the Nov. 5 ballot.

The problem is, Hannon is in the race. The two candidates say remarkably similar things about the need for leadership in Salem and the need to stabilize education funding. We recommend voters stick with Hannon.

The longest-serving lawmaker now in office, Hannon can run again only because the courts struck down the state's term-limits law. We have cited his service before as one of the best arguments against term limits, and his performance during this year's special sessions did nothing to change that opinion.

Hannon started his career as a Democrat, switched parties, and has continued that independent approach ever since. He is not afraid to buck his party when he believes it is not serving the public interest, and he is frequently punished for it.

But they always bring him back into the fold, because his knowledge of budget details and the legislative process is second to none. The voters in his strongly Democratic district keep bringing him back, too, and for good reason.

As a moderate Republican, Hannon provides a much-needed antidote to the lockstep, we'll-never-raise-taxes wing of the GOP caucus. If this state is ever to fix its broken funding mechanisms, it is pragmatic lawmakers like Hannon that will make it happen.

When the Legislature convenes in January, it will face its biggest challenge in years ' especially if voters turn down a temporary income tax increase on Jan. 28.

We have no reason to doubt Lemon's dedication to public service or her capability to do a good job in Salem. But Hannon has proven himself time and time again, and we believe his skills will be needed next year ' perhaps more than ever.

Give him another term.