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State candidates campaign in Astoria April 13, 2008

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

Gazing at 60 voters in the Astoria Event Center, state Sen. Betsy Johnson said: “It’s a good turnout, We have extremely strong candidates. I think it’s exciting! You can feel the excitement!”

With the primary election rapidly approaching, it might be no surprise that political candidates are passing through Astoria to court voters. But the Clatsop County Democratic Central Committee offered a chance to compare many of the local and statewide candidates for the May 20 election.

The committee held a candidates’ night Thursday, giving hopefuls a chance to spend five minutes extolling their virtues.

It was a fast-paced evening. A five-minute speech isn’t much time for swaying a crowd. But voters in attendance expressed pleasure at having a chance to speak to the candidates one-on-one.

Jennifer Cerf, a 30-year-old Astoria resident, said she was excited to see the event held here. “I’m just glad they had a political event,” she said. “I really am into the local stuff.”

And being into the local stuff, Cerf left the candidates’ night carrying a stack of small red fliers she intended to pass out. The fliers indicated that Barack Obama was opening a campaign office in Astoria today at 42 Seventh St. She was taking Obama local.

John Samp, owner of Erickson Floral – who was a Dennis Kucinich backer – said he is now a Barack Obama guy. “I’m that ultrasmall business. I want to know where we’re going as a country,” he said.

The candidates came prepared to rally against siting a Liquefied Natural Gas terminal on the Columbia River.

“Congress took the right away from you to make decisions about LNG,” said Oregon state Sen. Vicki Walker, who is running for Oregon Secretary of State. “We can create renewable energy projects. We won’t need LNG.”

John Kroger, one of two candidates for attorney general, got right to the point. “I strongly and publicly oppose liquefied natural gas,” he said. But he also touched on other issues the state faces.

Kroger said the state and nation need to “go after” the big methamphetamine traffickers from Mexico. But that won’t do much good until programs are in place to treat drug users.

“We have one of the worst drug treatment and enforcement programs in the entire country,” he said.

His opponent, state Rep. Greg Macpherson, had similar views on targeting the “high-level traffickers.” But, he also said Measure 11, which set mandatory sentencing for certain crimes, needs to be reconsidered too.

“Since (Measure 11) was passed, our prison system has doubled,” Macpherson said. “We’re one of five states who spend more on prisons than on education. It takes political courage to take on Measure 11.”

Another candidate for Oregon Secretary of State, Oregon state Sen. Kate Brown, focused on her record of leading the way in initiative reform, voter registration and paid family medical leave.

Will Hobbs, from Portland, appeared at the gathering to discuss his run for David Wu’s seat in Congress. As did Candy Neville, from Eugene, who is running for Gordon Smith’s U.S. Senate seat.

Deborah Boone, who is running unopposed for re-election to the Oregon House, made an appearance.

Locally, Jim Scheller and Kelly Stearns made their cases to be considered for Clatsop County commissioner in District 2. They are both running in the primary against the incumbent, Chairwoman Patricia Roberts.

Scheller promised to build open government and to build coalitions of the various political perspectives within Clatsop County to find solutions to problems that satisfy everybody.

“I like the idea of ‘be the change you want to be,'” he said.

Stearns said she’s running “because this is your county. You need a voice for change.”



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