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Swartzendruber Challenges Boquist For Senate Seat

DALLAS — Both candidates for Oregon Senate District 12 want to be a voice for rural Oregon.

Incumbent Sen. Brian Boquist is running for a third term.

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Boquist

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Swartzendruber

Senate District 12

NAME: Ross Swartzendruber, 52 of West Salem (Democrat)

CURRENT EMPLOYMENT: Self-employed 1997 to present.

EDUCATION: Amity High School, 1982; Chemeketa Community College; Oregon State University; Boston University BA in biology, 1988.

PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT SERVICE: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Student Advisory Committee Member 1981-82

CAMPAIGN PHONE NUMBER: 503-364-1403.

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: friendsofross.org

HOW LONG HAVE YOU RESIDED IN THE AREA YOU WILL REPRESENT: 52 years.

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR OFFICE? Rural Oregon deserves a stronger voice in the Oregon Senate. We have solutions to address affordable housing, health care and energy challenges that face all Oregonians. As State Senator, I will work to restore equality for rural citizens and establish new markets in our district.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST SINGLE ISSUE FACING THE U.S., THE STATE OF OREGON AND, MORE SPECIFICALLY, POLK COUNTY? HOW WOULD YOU ADDRESS IT IF ELECTED?

The United States of America is under siege by billionaires that want to be our kings and queens. Their assault on the middle class uses our own tax money to break down communities and stifle our economy. Stopping this threat is the biggest single issue facing all of us and history will be our guide.

Polk County is taking the brunt of the unequal treatment in education, health care and affordable housing. As State Senator, I will work to grow the middle class with new markets in rural tourism, renewable energy and land development.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WISH TO NOTE ABOUT THE POSITION YOU ARE SEEKING?

The Oregon State Senate is the first line of defense against corporate buccaneers and small and mid-size businesses the last. As State Senator, I will work to support both in growing the middle class.

Senate District 12

NAME: Brian J. Boquist, 58, of Dallas (Republican, incumbent)

CURRENT EMPLOYMENT: Self-employed.

EDUCATION: Tillamook High School, 1976; Western Oregon University, BS, 1985; Oregon State University, MBA, 1989.

PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT SERVICE: 2005 to 2016, State Senator & State Representative, Oregon’s 12th Senate District; 1975 to 2011, LTC (Ret), Special Forces, U.S. Army; 1987 to 1989, Program Coordinator, GRA, Oregon State System of Higher Education; 1983 to 1985, President, Business Manager, ASWOSC, Western Oregon State College.

CAMPAIGN PHONE NUMBER: 502-623-4426

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: Facebook page Brian Boquist

HOW LONG HAVE YOU RESIDED IN THE AREA YOU WILL REPRESENT: More than 20 years.

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR OFFICE? Unfinished work in the legislature. The state remains unprepared for natural and terrorist emergencies. Veterans programs remain underfunded, but Measure 96 would be a fix. State government still represses small businesses. Measure 97, passage or failure will impact Oregonians in billions of higher taxes or billions of budget cuts.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST SINGLE ISSUE FACING THE U.S., THE STATE OF OREGON AND, MORE SPECIFICALLY, POLK COUNTY? HOW WOULD YOU ADDRESS IT IF ELECTED?

Passage or failure of Measure 97, coupled with the pending market corrections impacting the state budget. Either the citizens want to increase overall taxes and spending by $6 billion or not. M97, if passed, will have to be completely re-written by the Legislature. If it fails, then the Legislature needs to reduce spending to meet federal ACA laws. With a market correction, this may be like 2009 when I voted for a budget that was cut by nearly $5 billion. Not a reduction, but real dollar cuts. This issue will impact health care costs, education, transportation, and even environmental regulation.

He believes the Legislature will be faced with numerous challenges, including the failure — or passage — of Measure 97, reforms to the state’s new minimum wage law, increasing cost of health care and the lack of a solution to the state’s transportation woes.

Boquist, a Republican in a majority Democrat Senate, said he will use the lessons he’s learned over his first two terms about cooperation and negotiation to work on behalf of his constituents and the state.

“In the Senate, we have a little bit different approach,” he said. “That’s trying to be a little more congenial and talk to our colleagues across the aisle. Just saying ‘no’ doesn’t work.”

Challenger Ross Swartzendruber, a Democrat, said he can accomplish the same by being a unique voice within the majority party.

“One of the main reasons I’m running is to get a rural voice back into the urban Democrat Senate majority,” he said, adding he doesn’t believe urban legislators have heard enough about what is happening in rural Oregon. “I’m really interested in telling these people and persuading them, we really have the true spirit of Oregon out here, and we ,have something that they could never have, and they need to respect that.”

Swartzendruber said he also will be watching the outcome of Measure 97, a bill that would create a gross sales tax on corporations with annual sales of more than $25 million.

He supports the measure, which is estimated to bring in more than $6 billion in revenue.

Swartzendruber said the measure levels the playing field between large corporations and local small- and mid-sized businesses.

“This measure is the result of the inaction by the legislature to address major tax reform since Measure 5,” he said. “On passage, many adjustments will be necessary and accountability added. If it fails, we’ll have to sort through the next budget shortfall.”

Boquist said that may happen regardless of the outcome due to an exception written into the bill that exempts companies that file as a “benefit corporations.” He said most of the targeted businesses could become benefit corporations.

Furthermore, Boquist said the gross sales tax will simply be passed down, increasing the cost of goods and services.

He said the passage of Measure 97 would prevent the Legislature from negotiating reforms to programs to reduce costs because it will be depending on what he calls “mythical money.”

“Then the corporations switch to benefit corporations or leave,” he said. “The Legislature will then have to go back and cut the $6.2 billion as the actual tax revenue that did not happen.”

Both candidates would like to see education reforms, including a focus on providing career and technical education (CTE) opportunities.

Swartzendruber said he would like schools to move away from standardized tests and proficiency grading systems, both of which he believes are being pushed by corporate interests.

“As state senator, I will work to return education to teachers in the classroom,” he said. “I will work to return vocational education onsite in high school and reduce cost for community and state higher education.”

Boquist said emphasis on is part of his economic development strategy, along with helping local small business expand, reducing red tape on land use, and resolving water access issues.

The minimum wage will be a focus as well.

“We need to repair the three-tier minimum wage passed in February,” he said. “It was passed to keep it off the ballot, and is on the table to fix in 2017.”

Swartzendruber’s economic development efforts would focus on tourism, renewable energy and affordable housing, including zoning for “tiny homes” and multi-family units.

“I will work to create a regional tourism policy for District 12 where county seats share best practices and create a network of rural hospitality zones,” he said.

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