POLK COUNTY -- Vicki Berger must be crazy.
At least that's what she hears.
The state faces a budget shortfall of more than $600 million. School districts are screaming.
Meanwhile, the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) marches on Salem like Godzilla -- threatening to devour every state agency in its path.
Sound like a fun time to go into state government?
Berger shrugs it off.
"I've never met a time when there weren't issues in government. If you don't like dealing with policy issues, then don't get into this business."
Besides, Berger has other concerns at the moment. Like actually getting elected.
A general election in November stands between Berger and the Legislature. Yet she passed the first hurdle, winning the Republican nomination for House District 20.
Berger got 46.42 percent of the vote. She got a total of 1,725 votes, outpacing her nearest rival, Greg Warnock, by 37 votes.
Irv Blake came in third with 295 votes.
It was the only partisan race on the ballot in Polk County. Her Democratic opponent in the fall, Lloyd Kumley, ran unopposed.
House District 20 is a new seat, carved out by the redistricting process. It puts West Salem, Monmouth and Independence in a House District separate from Dallas and the rest of Polk County.
The new district includes South Salem and Jefferson.
Berger admits this is an "interesting" time to seek state office. "Two sessions ago, we were talking about a tax kicker. What a laugh!"
No one has much time to rest, Berger said. With the Memorial Day holiday over, Berger is back on the campaign trail -- knocking on doors and talking to her would-be constituents.
If the state is going to solve its problems, she said, everyone needs to get involved.
"I think we all need to be working on this. It's a cooperative thing. My message is that if you care about your state and community, help me help ourselves."