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Davis challenges Wallan in race for District 6 state rep

A gun-owning veteran with unorthodox ideas for solving some of the state’s largest problems hopes to unseat incumbent Medford Republican Kim Wallan in the race for House District 6 state representative.

Dan Davis, a Democrat who moved to Medford after losing his Talent home in the Almeda Fire, hopes his decades of experience as an engineer in the energy industry can help to forge new partnerships between the academic community and the state Legislature.

In a phone interview, Davis said climate change is real, and he has out-of-the-box ideas for solving them that draw from his background in energy production.

Davis worked in engineering fields for General Electric, owned his own gas turbine company for 30 years, and since 2013 has run D2X Associates, which designs hospitals primarily on the East Coast for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“We’re all facing the climate crisis,” Davis said. “It’s going to get to be more of a crisis unless we do something about it.

“I think I can make big contributions in helping to solve this challenge,” Davis added.

Among his ideas for addressing drought: nuclear-powered desalinization plants.

“There’s plentiful water on the coast of Oregon,” Davis said. “Even thought this’d be a big political football, it seems if we can transport fuel oil and gas in pipelines, we can bring the necessity of life ... from places where it’s in abundance to places where it’s not.”

Desalinization technology’s main barrier is that it’s “a very energy-intensive process,” so Davis would power them with community-sized nuclear power plants.

“We can’t solve it all with solar,” Davis said.

Davis proposes the nuclear plants use thorium because the radioactive element is “much less problematic” compared with the more commonly used uranium.

“It’s easier to mine, it’s more plentiful and it has a much lower half life — we’re talking decades instead of centuries with uranium,” Davis said. “I believe we can get our universities involved in these kinds of problems to study them and to come up with solutions.”

Rep. Wallan did not respond to multiple requests to be interviewed for this story. Her campaign website does not mention climate change but does say Wallan supports legislation allowing the Oregon Department of Forestry “to partner more effectively” with the U.S. Forest Service. She states she supports “responsible logging” to bring overgrown local forests back to health.

“By leaving our valuable, renewable resources to lie fallow in overgrown, unhealthy forests, we leave them vulnerable to disease, infestation and mega-fires,” Wallan’s website states.

Davis said he opposes clear-cutting but sees forests as a resource that needs to be managed.

“It’s a great resource for the state, and I think we need to deal with our forests a little bit better,” Davis said, describing prescribed burning and thinning as ways to address them.

Davis said he believes his support for the environment sets him apart from Wallan.

“I’m endorsed by Oregon League of Conservation Voters, and she has a 5% rating from OLCV,” Davis said. “To me, that tells a story”

OLCV gave Wallan a 5% rating for the 2021 legislative session because she voted for only one of eight pieces of legislation endorsed by the environmental group: Oregon House Bill 5006, which allocated federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to state agencies.

Wallan was among 55 unanimous yes votes in the House with four abstaining, and the bill passed the Senate with three no votes and three abstaining.

“Across the board Oregon’s natural resources agencies got more funding than they ever have,” OLCV stated about the bill. “This was a huge victory for the 2021 session and for our values.”

Davis said he supports legislation that would curtail the possession of high-powered assault rifles and large-capacity magazines, but he doesn’t fit the typical mold because he’s also a gun owner.

“I know people enjoy guns, and I do, too,” Davis said. “I just don’t have an assault weapon, and I don’t believe there’s any reason for a civilian to have a weapon of mass destruction.”

“I carried an M16 in Vietnam, so I know how destructive they are,” Davis added.

Davis said he has a pilot’s license and a driver’s license. He’d like firearms to be similarly regulated.

“We need to have regulations on dangerous things to protect our right to live,” Davis said.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.