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Berger is seeking sixth term in Oregon House

POLK COUNTY -- House Rep. Vicki Berger (R-West Salem) said she believes being more proactive about marketing the state's natural resources and revising tax policies to make life easier for small businesses are items to be addressed during the next legislative session.

October 09, 2012

POLK COUNTY -- House Rep. Vicki Berger (R-West Salem) said she believes being more proactive about marketing the state's natural resources and revising tax policies to make life easier for small businesses are items to be addressed during the next legislative

Berger

Berger

session.

Jackie Pierce, her Democratic challenger, opined there must be more retraining opportunities for individuals to fill in slots being left by retirements in the trade industries.

Berger and Pierce will square off in the race for House District 20 during the general election on Nov. 6. The area covers Independence, Monmouth and West Salem in

Pierce

Pierce

Polk County, as well as South Salem.

Berger, who's held the seat for the past 10 years, is seeking her sixth consecutive term.

"There's a lot of work left to be done, but I feel I've represented my district well," Berger said. "I'm experienced in this process, I have expertise in tax policy ... and quite frankly, I like this job."

Berger, who lives in West Salem, said the state has probably hit the bottom of its economic downturn, but isn't recovering fast enough. Opening more trade channels for natural resources overseas might help, she said.

"Some of our regulatory polices don't help in the growth of small- and medium-size businesses," she added. "I was sitting on a land-use hearing recently and about all of the things a company must go through just to set up a business ... let's streamline some of that."

Bill items Berger will pursue this year include senior property tax deferrals and resolving the path-to-citizenship quirks faced by Oregon's Marshallese community.

Pierce worked as a psychiatric social worker for Oregon State Hospital for 17 years and was a social worker at Fairview Training Center before that.

She was also heavily involved in the leadership of the agency's chapter of Local 503 of Service Employees International Union.

Pierce said she opted to run after another party candidate pulled out of the race in August. Pierce stepped in as a challenger in a similar situation in 2010, and ran for a state Senate seat against Jackie Winters. Though Pierce said that her campaign is modest, "it was important that we get somebody on the ballot."

"I don't think any political candidate should just go unchallenged."

The workforce is aging and needs to be replaced, Pierce said. She advocates training people to fill those gaps via training partnerships between various unions and community colleges.

"Let's invest more money in alternative energy sources and train people to help start those businesses," she said.

--

Name: Vicki Berger.

Age: 63.

Hometown: West Salem.

Party affiliation: Republican.

What do you see as the biggest issue in your district, particularly Polk County? "Keeping jobs and sustaining industries that are there. Keeping Marquis Spas and Medallion Cabinetry going -- those businesses that sustain Monmouth and Independence. And finding education funding for Western Oregon University, as well."

--

Name: Jackie Pierce.

Age: 67.

Hometown: West Salem.

Party affiliation: Democrat.

What do you see as the biggest issue in your district, particularly Polk County? "Unemployment is an issue all over the state, but especially in rural areas."

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