Tuesday, October 23, 2012
POLK COUNTY -- When the legislature redrew the Senate district map, Falls City was penciled into the fringes of District 5, joining Grand Ronde in the Polk County portion of the district.
The district mainly consists of coastal communities from just north of Netarts in Tillamook County south to Coos Bay, along with a few inland cities.
Senate candidates Scott Roberts, a Republican from North Bend, and Arnie Roblan, a Democrat from Coos Bay, say their focus isn't just with the coast, however.
Roblan said when he first ran for office in 2004, he did so to represent rural Oregon in a legislature filled with representatives from urban areas.
"I needed them to have the perspective for the rural areas of the state -- including places like Falls City," he said. "I wanted to take that message to Salem."
Roblan visited Falls City in support of his campaign this summer and found many similarities with the South Coast cities of Reedsport, Coos Bay and North Bend, which are trying to "reinvent" themselves through new opportunities.
He said he admired the ingenuity of using local resources for tourism, such as the Black Rock Mountain Bike Area just outside of town, as well as respecting the city's past -- mostly through preserving the schools.
Roberts, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, said he sees one major issue facing all the communities he is seeking to represent: jobs.
"Our biggest concern is unemployment," he said. "We get left out in the dust in rural Oregon and coastal Oregon."
Roberts believes, as a small business owner, he is best suited to understand the issues facing employers and what it takes to create jobs. He said he would support job-friendly legislation even if he had to cross party lines.
"All politicians say we need jobs -- whether you are Democrat or Republican," he said. "But if you are in the position to let legislation (involving jobs) move forward, you should forgo the partisan politics."
This is the second time Roberts and Roblan have been opponents. In 2010, they faced off for Oregon House District 9. Roblan won that race and has served as the cochairman in an evenly split house since.
As far as government experience, Roberts served on the North Bend Budget Committee in 2011 and is the director of the Larson Slough Drainage District. Roberts is the immediate past president of the Oregon Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, which has helped craft legislation to better serve patients.
Education -- or rather education choice -- is another important issue for Roberts. He's a proponent of voucher systems, which Roberts believes would end up saving the state money and have better results.
Roberts said he and his wife have exercised all the options available to educate their children.
"I have children who are in public school, private school and home-schooled," he said. "I think all those options should be available."
A former teacher and principal in the Coos Bay School District, Roblan was elected representative of Oregon House District 9 in 2004 after incumbent Joanne Verger decided to run for the Oregon Senate. Now Verger is retiring, and he is seeking to take her place for the second time.
Roblan said jobs will also be a top priority for him if elected.
"We have to find ways that the government can help business to be successful," he said.
In addition, Roblan believes he has unfinished business regarding bills passed in the previous session on education, jobs and health care.
"We passed some amazing legislation in the last session, but we have to monitor those changes," he said. "We have to make sure that it works and we are getting the cost savings out of it that we were expecting."
SENATE DISTRICT 5
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