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Campaigns begin


This election promises some quality races, and tough choices for voters

And they're off! A flurry of filings before the deadline for the May 18 Oregon primary has left voters with wide variety of choices in local legislative races. Many of the candidates are familiar, and most have extensive credentials in local and state politics.

That won't make voters' choices any easier, but it should make for an energetic and stimulating campaign season.

Voters can be forgiven if they find the lineups confusing. Several factors have combined to make the primary ballot a little like reading the script of Abbott and Costello's Who's on First?

Lenn Hannon started the game of musical chairs when he resigned his District — Senate seat to accept an appointment to the state Parole Board. Rep. Alan Bates, a Democrat, announced he would seek the Democratic nomination for the seat Hannon held for three decades.

That left Bates' Ashland House district open. Former Rep. Judy Uherbelau, who served three terms in the House, will face Peter Buckley, a 2002 candidate for U.S. Congress, in the Democratic primary. Republican Joanna Lofaso will take on the winner of that race in November.

Meanwhile, Jackson County commissioners appointed Medford City Councilman Sal Esquivel to fill Hannon's Senate seat until the election. The county GOP Central Committee had recommended Esquivel as its top choice for the vacancy, with the understanding that Esquivel would run for the seat in November.

— But Esquivel turned the tables on that plan after Rep. Rob Patridge of Medford decided against seeking re-election to his 6th District House seat. Esquivel announced he would run for Patridge's House seat, leaving the Republicans with an appointed lame-duck senator.

We can understand Esquivel's decision, and we think he probably would be more comfortable in the House as a first-time lawmaker. He will also have a much easier time winning in a heavily Republican district, although he denies that had anything to do with his decision.

We do have some difficulty with his tactics in pursuing the Senate appointment. Esquivel told the Mail Tribune that he never promised to run for the Senate, telling the Republican Party only that he would be a candidate in November.

The county Republican organization was briefly left in the lurch, and Central Committee Chairman Bryan Platt expressed some anger at Esquivel's change of plan. But longtime business executive and community leader Jim Wright, who was one of three nominees to fill Hannon's position, filed to run for the seat.

This newspaper endorsed Wright over Esquivel for the appointment, and we think the race between Wright and Bates gives 3rd District voters two solid choices.

It should be an interesting election year. May the best candidates win.

Local heroes

Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say, 'This is my community, and it's my responsibility to make it better.'

' Oregon Gov. Tom McCall

With those words, radio host Jeff Golden summed up the spirit of Mediation Works' annual Imagine Awards Sunday. The four honorees ' Ike Apodaca, John Statler, Kari Bassett and Marjorie Kellogg ' all have made outstanding contributions to this community.

Apodaca has worked to create programs for the Latino community. Statler was honored for his extensive volunteer work. Bassett, Crater High School junior, received the Young Peacemaker award for her efforts to honor diversity and raise funds to help free slaves in the Sudan.

Kellogg, 80, who accepted a lifetime achievement award, helped start Peace House and has worked with UNICEF and the League of Women Voters. She and her husband helped young people by running the Hillside Farm School at their home.

We join Mediation Works in recognizing these four people. Because of their contributions, our community is indeed a better place.