By Peter Toll
Oregonians have made it clear state-wide that they live here or moved here because of our natural beauty, which is enhanced by equally clean air and water, some of the best in the U.S.
People say they are willing, in the same independent Oregon Values survey, to spend money to enhance those qualities that are hallmarks in their way of life. But that’s not all.
Oregonians are equally concerned about the quality of public education we are providing our children. They don’t like it, and they’re willing to pay more to improve it.
So how does that manifest with our Clackamas County legislators? We’ll look at the senators in this report and the House members in subsequent write-ups.
Clackamas County has six state senators, one-fifth of the 30 in the senior chamber of our legislature. Three are Republicans and three are Democrats. How well do they score on vital issues of protecting our natural beauty and improving public education? Two reports tell us.
They are the Environmental Scorecard for the 2013 Oregon Legislature by the Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV) and the Legislative Report Card by the Oregon Education Association (OEA). Political enviros on one hand and classroom teachers on the other.
Voting strongly for protecting and enhancing our environment were the three Democrats: Richard Devlin of Tualatin; Rod Monroe of Southeast Portland; and Diane Rosenbaum, also of Southeast Portland.
Their combined average score on bills the OLCV felt were important was 90 percent favorable. Their three Republican counterparts saw a combined average of just 33 percent favorable. Those Republicans are Chuck Thomsen of Hood River; Fred Girod of Stayton; and Alan Olsen of Canby.
When it comes to the most important reason people live in Oregon, Democrats dramatically come out on top.
On the educational side, Oregon’s teachers’ union gave our Clackamas County senators (including those who live in other areas but represent us) similarly lopsided ratings.
The same three Democrats earned an average of 75 percent rating on educational bills while the GOP trio came up with a scrawny 27 percent. (We’ve rounded the numbers for simplicity’s sake.)
Reflecting the popularity of their positions on these issues, none of the Democrats have Republican opponents this fall. That makes it easier for Democrats to rally behind the Democratic candidates who want to replace the Republican incumbents.
Former county commissioner Jamie Damon, of Eagle Creek, is going after Olsen in that rural Clackamas County district. Robert Bruce, of Sandy, is tackling Thomsen in a district ranging from Clackamas on the south then north to East Portland out to Hood River. Girod, with 40 percent of his district in Clackamas County, is not up for re-election in this cycle.
We’ll be exploring key issues and how Democats differ so strongly from Republicans in the course of the campaign. Our discussion will go well beyond the two most important that we glossed over here.
Knowing your candidate (or opponent, as the case may be) is always necessary in helping drive home the point: Democrats are much, much more in tune with enhancing an Oregon that we all love, while Republicans are, quite simply, contrary in their approaches to government.
Peter Toll has lived in Clackamas County more than 25 years, all the while active in Clackamas and Oregon Democratic activities. He is an independent financial advisor with a progressive perspective. You can reach him at email@example.com.