Wednesday, February 1, 2006
MONMOUTH -- Paul Evans looks back fondly on 1988.
A freshman at what is now Western Oregon University, he entered the race for a Monmouth City Council seat and spent weeks canvassing neighborhoods and speaking at public gatherings to earn support.
When the results were tallied, the 18-year-old Evans had garnered more votes than six others in the race.
"I enjoyed the experience," he said. "I asked people for opportunities, and they gave me their trust."
That support carried over to two terms as Monmouth Mayor a decade later. Now 35, Evans hopes the same will ring true from residents of the Willamette Valley.
Evans, a Democrat, officially filed for the Oregon Senate District 10 position on Jan. 26. He addressed almost 300 supporters, including former Gov. Barbara Roberts and U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley, at an event in Salem.
"The legislature is broke," he said. "I see several problems there ... and the proof is the number of ballot measures that have been put forward in the last decade.
"People are seeking remedy through the initiative process," he said. "So it's time for the leaders to step forward."
Evans will compete against Sen. Jackie Winters in District 10, which includes southern and western portions of Salem, as well as the communities of Monmouth, Independence, Turner and Aumsville.
Winters, a Republican, is a two-term state senator.
"I think the case for change is real," Evans said. "I believe in the next four years that I can do a better job than my opponent, if given an opportunity."
Evans says affordable health care, security for military veterans and funding for education are among his top priorities.
"We need to figure out a way to fully fund a quality education model by the year 2017," Evans said. "We have 10 years to get to 100 percent funding."
Growing populations are creating challenges for Willamette Valley Schools, creating a dynamic where districts "are being forced to do more with less."
A very high percentage of children within the Central School District are on federally subsidized lunches," he said. "That's an indicator of a larger problem ... we need to find remedies."
Evans said a wide range of leadership experiences have afforded him an ability to adapt -- and better understand -- the challenges facing the state and country.
A former Polk County Fire District No. 1 and Oregon Air National Guard volunteer, Evans has twice been deployed to Iraq and has worked for the Joint Air Defense Operations Center in Washington, D.C.
He currently teaches at Western and is a community liaison for Central School District.
"This election is about what kind of Oregon we want," Evans said. "I'm asking people to give me four years to work on the issues that matter."