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House District 4: Richardson

Editorials

The GOP incumbent takes his job and his constituents very seriously

The Mail Tribune has not endorsed many conservative Republicans. Yet, today, in the race for Oregon House District 4, our endorsement goes to Dennis Richardson, who ranks among the most conservative members of the Legislature.

To understand why, you need to sit down with Richardson and hear him describe how he views his responsibilities, his district and his commitment to understanding what makes state government tick.

Richardson's' opponent, Richard Koopmans, says he entered the campaign primarily to ensure Richardson would have an opponent. He has raised only about &

36;400 from outside sources and says he expects to spend less than &

36;2,000 ' in other words, this is not a serious challenge to the incumbent.

Koopmans, employed part-time as a delivery driver, is passionate about improving education and helping low-income and special needs children. He offers few specifics on most issues, however, and perhaps should consider a run for a school board position before trying to become a state legislator.

There are many areas in which we are probably more philosophically aligned with Koopmans than Richardson. But we recognize that Richardson's views reflect his conservative district. And we hope he will live up to his pledge that education funding will be a priority and that he will work to develop a rainy day fund as a safeguard against future downturns in the state budget.

Richardson is a critic of the previous Legislatures, saying the body too often focused on preserving the status quo and too seldom was willing to make tough decisions. He criticizes his own party for agreeing to use bonded debt to support general fund activities and Democrats for pushing for increased taxes to solve the state's financial woes.

— But Richardson has done more than just criticize. He says he has spent much of the past year studying the budget processes of other states, meeting with former legislators who truly understood the budget and poring over the state's budget documents.

He prides himself on using his background as a lawyer to study bills in detail. We see evidence of that even on an issue about which we disagree with him: his support of Measure 37, which would require governments to either compensate property owners whose land is affected by land-use rules or ignore the rules.

Richardson has read the measure carefully and says that if it passes, the Legislature must address some portions of it because it poses extremely drastic consequences for the state.

We believe he will bring that same eye for detail to bear on the major issues facing Oregon and we endorse his candidacy for House District 4.

Senate 28: Ross Carroll

Ross Carroll is a Democrat in overwhelmingly Republican state Senate District 28, and his opponent is running a much bigger campaign. He probably won't win on Nov. 2.

Carroll, however, is the candidate we'd send to Salem.

District 28 is huge and diverse, encompassing parts of five counties including the Eagle Point area in Jackson County. Carroll, a retired Oregon Institute of Technology professor, is a moderate whose ideas on the state budget and how Oregon can move forward fit fairly well with those we see as most likely to work.

Like many candidates this season, he advocates making education the Legislature's top priority and figuring its funding before moving on to other issues. Like many, he advocates more funding for public safety and using the kicker, which today is refunded to taxpayers in good times, to build up a fund to help the budget in bad times. Like many, he talks about tax reform but doesn't think it should involve a sales tax.

What gives Carroll an edge is his attitude toward the process. He sees polarization as the biggest impediment to legislators getting work done, and he has background in bringing people together. At OIT, it was as leader of the faculty Senate. He also has reorganized Klamath County Democrats over the past year, bringing the central committee from a core of fewer than a dozen to about 75.

Carroll's opponent, retired Klamath Falls large-animal veterinarian Doug Whitsett, understands a lot about the district, and as owner of a home in Eagle Point he has some understanding of Jackson County. His political views, however, are often at a far end of the political spectrum ' and appear to be lodged there for good. Whitsett is president of a water users advocacy group and has strong feelings about water rights and protecting agriculture. In 2001 columns in a cattlemen's newsletter, he called some environmentalists Marxist for their land-use views.

More than anything in the session that starts in January, Salem needs smart people capable of getting the state past its problems of recent years. It needs people with reasonable ideas who can work together. We think Ross Carroll makes a good case that he's that person for District 28.