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Four Battle For Dist. 23 Position In Legislature

One of the few locally contested races in the May vote-by-mail primary matches two Republicans and two Democrats vying for their respective party's nomination for the Oregon House District 23 seat.

One of the few locally contested races in the May vote-by-mail primary matches two Republicans and two Democrats vying for their respective party's nomination for the Oregon House District 23 seat.

Longtime Polk County residents Craig Pope, who lives southwest of Monmouth, and Jim Thompson of Dallas square off in the Republican primary. Jason Brown of Dallas and Wesley "Buddy" West of Sheridan are facing off in the Democratic race.

The four candidates are contending for the seat being vacated by Brian Boquist, who has opted for a run at the Oregon Senate. The district covers most of Polk County except the Monmouth, Independence, West Salem and Grand Ronde areas, and also includes portions of Benton, Linn, Marion and Yamhill counties.

All four individuals tout some of the same goals and issues that need to be addressed if elected.

REPUBLICANS

Pope and Thompson both have name familiarity, particularly among Polk County voters.

Pope, 51, is a lifelong resident of the district. He founded Agriweld Inc., a Monmouth-based agricultural manufacturing business with his wife, Dina, in 1988 and has been involved in the agriculture industry for most of his life.

While seeking his first state office, Pope is known locally for his service to the Polk County Fire District No. 1 Board, Luckiamute Domestic Water Board, Polk County Committee for Citizen Involvement, and several other civic groups.

"One of the big issues is being sure to reach out to the entire district," said Pope. "The constituents from other areas in the five counties outside of Dallas don't feel like they have had a voice and rarely see their representative. That's a big deal to them."

Pope, who describes his campaign as grassroots in nature, is stressing issues like securing water resources for the region, education reform, fiscal responsibility, stimulating the economy, and transportation. He believes voters in the district would welcome a "fresh face" in the State Capitol.

"My background as a small business person and work ethic is very strong," said Pope. "I'm not trying to be the agent of change, but the agent of work. I feel I have more to offer this district because of my background."

Thompson, currently executive director of the Oregon State Pharmacy Association, was appointed in 2004 to serve out the House District 23 term of Lane Shetterly, who was appointed to a job in state government.

"I think that experience is the big difference," said Thompson. "I've been in the Legislature and I've worked as chief of staff for (State Senator) Gary George. That experience goes a long ways."

Thompson, who has served as a Monmouth City Councilor and on the board of Polk County Fire District No. 1, wants to work to create better jobs and improve the economy, focus school funding on classroom instruction, continue the fight against illegal drugs like meth through stiffer penalties to dealers and stronger drug treatment programs, work to improve roads and transportation in the region, and address the high cost of health care.

"They're worried about where they are going to be in a year or two," Thompson said as he described concerns of voters. "The economy is on everybody's mind. There is a general concern that things aren't going well and government has played a part in that.

"I feel really good about where we are with the campaign and where we're going," Thompson added. "The voters seem to be receptive to our message."

DEMOCRATS

Brown, 47, who lives just outside of Dallas, has a big advantage over his party opponent in terms of name familiarity. Brown won the Democrat nomination for the House District 23 seat in 2006 but lost to Boquist in the general election.

"The real advantage of having run before is I have developed a much better understanding of issues at the state level and what we can do about those issues," said Brown.

The computer engineer and small farm operator is an advocate for vocational training, apprenticeships and school-to-work programs to help strengthen rural economies.

"Rural areas need to be prosperous, which they aren't so much in our state," said Brown. "In general, rural economies haven't been getting their share of the tax investments that other areas of our state have received."

Other campaign issues Brown is addressing include the economy in general, health care, law enforcement and dealing with the meth issue, education, and climate change.

West is a relative newcomer to politics and is seeking his first elected state office. If he were to win election, it is believed West would be the first enrolled member of an Oregon tribe to serve in the state Legislature.

The 65-year-old resident of Sheridan most recently served a three-year term on the Tribal Council of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. He also served a two-year term on the board of directors of the Yamhill Community Action Partnership. West served 20 years in the United States Army, including duty in Vietnam, and was awarded the Purple Heart.

"I see issues and concerns of the people that are not being addressed," said West. "I want to listen, to hear, and bring to the table those issues and concerns."

In addition to the usual issues like the economy and affordable health care, West said he is concerned about protecting children from predators, elder abuse, gangs, and the ongoing fight again meth and other illegal drugs and the problems associated with the crime they create.

"When I first entered the race, I didn't think I had much of a chance," said West. "But as I have campaigned and attended meetings and talked to people, I think I can win. I pride myself on my honesty and I think my background has prepared me."

State Representative / District 23 Hopefuls

Name: Craig Pope.

Age: 51.

Hometown: Monmouth (Airlie area).

Party affiliation: Republican.

Position sought: Republican nomination, State House of Representatives, District 23.

District boundaries: Portions of Polk, Benton, Linn, Marion and Yamhill counties.

Employment: Owner of Agriweld Inc.

Endorsements: Oregon Right to Life, Oregon State Snowmobile Association, Associated Oregon Industries.

Local public service: Polk County Fire District No. 1 board, Luckiamute Domestic Water board, Polk County Committee for Citizen Involvement, volunteer firefighter, certified reserve police officer, Oregon Volunteer Firefighters Association, Mid-Willamette Metals Consortium, Manufacturing 21 Coalition executive board, Willamette Valley Ag Expo board.

Web site: www.friendsofcraigpope.com

Campaign phone: 503-838-6444.

Notes: Pope is seeking his first elected office at the state level.

* * *

Name: Jim Thompson.

Age: 61.

Hometown: Dallas.

Party affiliation: Republican.

Position sought: Republican nomination, State House of Representatives, District 23.

District boundaries: Portions of Polk, Benton, Linn, Marion and Yamhill counties.

Employment: Executive Director, Oregon State Pharmacy Association.

Endorsements: Oregon Credit Union Association, Oregon Dental Association, Oregon Health Care Association, Oregon Right to Life-PAC, Oregon Taxpayer Association, Polk County Republican Central Committee, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, National Rifle Association. (Complete list available at campaign web site).

Local public service: Monmouth City Council, Polk County Fire District No. 1 Board of Directors, State Representative District 23 (appointed), Oregon Health Care Volunteer Advisory Committee, Polk County Republican Party Precinct Committeeperson, Health Safety Net Advisory Council, Public Health Logistics Workgroup.

Web site: www.jimforhouse.com

Campaign phone: 503-623-2764, 503-508-0919.

Notes: Thompson was selected to serve out the House District 23 term of Lane Shetterly in 2004 when Shetterly was appointed to a state government position.

* * *

Name: Jason Brown.

Age: 47.

Hometown: Dallas.

Party affiliation: Democrat.

Position sought: Democratic nomination, State House of Representatives, District 23.

District boundaries: Portions of Polk, Benton, Linn, Marion and Yamhill counties.

Employment: Computer engineer, small farmer.

Endorsements: Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Oregon AFSCME, Former Labor Commissioner Dan Gardner.

Local public service: Precinct Committeeperson, Democratic Party of Oregon Executive Committee member, Delegate to the State Central Committee of the Democratic Party.

Web site: www.brownforhouse.org.

Campaign phone: 503-606-4323.

Notes: Brown won the Democratic nomination for the District 23 seat in 2006, but lost to Brian Boquist in the general election. He is seeking his first elected office at the state level.

* * *

Name: Wesley West.

Age: 65.

Hometown: Sheridan.

Party affiliation: Democrat.

Position sought: Democratic nomination, State House of Representatives, District 23.

District boundaries: Portions of Polk, Benton, Linn, Marion and Yamhill counties.

Employment: U.S. Army retired, retired self-employed contractor.

Endorsements: Spirit Mountain Casino, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

Local public service: Yamhill Community Action Partnership (2-year term), Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Tribal Council (3-year term).

Web site: www.westleywestforlegislature.blogspot.com/

Campaign phone: 503-843-2382.

Notes: West is seeking his first elected office at the state level.

Just A Reminder: All vote-by-mail ballots for the May primary must be returned to the county elections office by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20.

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