A Request from Rural Oregon

Paul Evans

Congratulations on an unexpectedly decisive victory this week. Your team should celebrate the work accomplished, and prepare for the work ahead.





  1. Please define a principle-based agenda for the 2013 Legislative Session that brings us together. The last time the Oregon Democrats had a large majority – the “so-called” super majority provided the opportunity to pass legislation without the “need” for Republicans. Although opinions differ about the cause, we can all accept that the last time there was too much distance between the parties – it ended badly – for all of us. Sometimes hard votes have to be taken – this is understood. Making the tough calls comes with the job, but such stark choices should be the last option – never the first option.

  2. Please focus upon structural and systemic solutions that yield outcomes in synch with all of Oregon. This election demonstrated the willingness of the public to analyze information and make choices about candidates and ballot measures with an eye towards reason and rationality. But we must make it clear that the objectives we seek are the objectives we share. We need new ways of providing services, educating our children, securing our neighborhoods, and sustaining commerce. It is likely that the Republican Caucus in the Oregon Senate will be more partisan in 2013 than in the previous sessions. This does not mean that the House has to match the discord – at least point for point. Oregonians have given you their trust – it is essential for all of us that you are understood to be the “adults” when childish behavior erupts.

  3. Please consider placing a Republican or two on critical decision-making groups; perhaps a committee chair. Our fiscal problems will require both innovation and long-term resource development. Democrats are not the craven “tax the rich” zombies some on the other side of the aisle assert, our policies are usually linked to evidence-based reasoning – a “pay as you go” fiscal responsibility: we must showcase this. We cannot long afford being the party – the only party – to be seen asking citizens to pay more for the services they expect. There are good people on both sides of the aisles; the Democrats will have sufficient power to wield when/if necessary, but it is always best if solutions can be derived from collaboration and cooperation.

  4. Please demonstrate what it really means to be “democratic” – as Democrats. Celebrate diversity of opinion; reach out for all points of view when seeking solutions and then make decisions in a transparent manner. Most of the time our proposals make more sense; let them be made in a public setting – it will strengthen their appeal and sharpen the contrast. We all seek sustainable commerce: agriculture, forestry, as well as technology-driven manufacturing. Even though we may sometimes disagree on the means, we should highlight the shared commitment to responsible ends. Ultimately, good government is good politics. And Oregonians want a more democratic approach to doing the “people’s business.” With thirty-four votes, each party-based choice will be scrutinized and making these instances rare helps us.

  5. Enjoy the opportunities of leadership. There are a lot of us rural Democrats watching your team with hope and optimism. We are excited about the upcoming Legislative Session so we can share with you our concerns about the future, so we can offer some proposals for consideration that can help develop the brand throughout the State of Oregon. In the rural areas of Oregon we know life differently, but we value our Oregon as much – in equal measure – as urban Democrats. In truth, the diversity of our party is a strength that will be an asset in the coming term as we approach the challenges associated with an America in transition.

  6. Last, we ask that you continue the work on Veterans’ Services. Over the Interim there were several helpful discussions regarding creative resourcing as well as technical “fixes” that are time-sensitive and critical for reintegration. We ask that the money be found for Campus Veterans’ Service Officers for our community colleges and state universities – so that we can capture the $Billions currently being “left on the table.” And we ask that the House of Representatives consider some of the issues and items necessary for making our National Guard even more of a force-multiplier for emergency response/recovery operations.

  7. Congratulations on an unexpectedly decisive victory this week. Your team should celebrate the work accomplished, and prepare for the work ahead. We rural Democrats are ready, willing, and able (enthusiastic even) about helping make this election victory the beginning of a larger conversation throughout rural Oregon.

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    Well I'm not sure I really understand what this is all about- Where I live people that think anything in the Willamette Valley is "rural" would be sent for a mental exam.

    As a matter of full disclosure as the editors say at the moment I am a registered Republican as I felt compelled to cast a vote against our buddy Mitt as soon as humanly possible and refused to wait until the general election. It's not bad really since I think personally it helps empower me as a voter in this district. More progressives in rural areas should do the same thing and start running for office (not my plan at all- all I run for is cover).

    My advice to the Democratic Majority: ACT LIKE ONE AND DELIVER PROGRESSIVE RESULTS instead of whimping around catering to real estate developers and trying to figure out to sneak in a sales tax. Look to Jerry Brown's successful tax meaure in California to raise our needed revenue. And actually deliver on an environmental issue. Shake out Kitzhaber's so called Energy Plan and realize it is little more that a wish list for private utilities and refuse to cave in to Wind Utility demands for faster siting abandoning the "need for power" standards. Get real about siting wind power in rural areas and protect your ranches, farms, homes and wildlife with more restrictive siting laws if you really want to do something for rural Oregon.

    If you want to expand seats in rural areas I would suggest that your relax your litmus standards and recruit more populist candidates, really give them some funding and more local control over their message.

    What I expect is a few showboat issues and a bungled attempt to enact the sales tax. More betrayl of environmental issues in favor of industry and developers and generally a lack of follow through.

    It's a good thing you had Obama at the top of the ticket.

    PS: Get rid of fusion voting.

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    It would be really good if the Democratic majority could focus on the rural health crisis.

    There is some question how well the governor's Transformation process addresses rural needs. The CCO for Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson Counties is a private insurance company, PacificSource, which has partnered with what has become a regional delivery monopoly in the area, the St. Charles Health System, to deliver care.

    This is not the most promising of structures. I am not sure how typical it is of rural CCOs.

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    the #1 way the Leg can focus on rural Oregon is to focus on economic opportunities. of course, that's the same need our urban areas have. oh, and jobs and health care and public safety. not sure the needs are different between urban & rural; what's different are circumstances & local resources. we can figure out programs that allow the necessary flexibility & specificity needed in various areas. after all, not all urban areas have the same needs/resources; not all rural areas are identical. good governance works by designing programs that meet actual needs of actual people in actual circumstances. and "rural" and "urban" are simply factors in the calculations. good leaders will take that into account - and Tina Kotek & her team are damn good leaders.

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      Rep Dave Hunt:

      My post was neither an attack upon you or the 2009-10 Legislature. It was a request for learning from the past, a request for this particular circumstance: a moment when Oregon has witnessed the collaboration of the 2011-12 Legislature and asked the Democrats to push a more progressive agenda - in a cooperative fashion.

      My post was about means, not ends. I'm not your enemy: never was, am not now. But I am a person invested in helping foster a spirit of inclusiveness that expands the brand throughout rural Oregon.

      The 2009-10 Legislature was historic: it accomplished amazing things for Oregon - and as Speaker - you facilitated most of that progress. But the game has changed a little since then and we can both showcase a renewed willingness to work with all sides, and make forward progress.

      Enjoy this upcoming Veterans' Day. Know that many veterans have increased opportunity and better care as a result of what you and your caucus did in 2009. We haven't forgotten - at all.

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    Excuse me, but don't elections have consequences? What's with all this reach out to Republicans bull....? They lost! Let's go for our agenda.

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      Stefan, Amen!

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      By all means, Man The Walls! (sarcasm font on)

      Let's reinforce what makes us different and alienate those who have a different vision of how to get to a more prosperous Oregon.

      Because your hyperbolic statement worked so well for President Obama in 2010 now didn't it? (sarcasm font off)

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    Paul, I totally disagree with your request of the Democratic leadership to place R's as Committee chairs. That is an asinine idea.

    First of all, if you still live where you lived when you ran against Jackie Winters, I do not consider you "rural".

    Secondly, we Dems put alot of time and money into electing as many Dems as possible. We did that so that Democratic principles would be enacted. Why would we put any of the current R's on any committee??? They would never consider putting D's as committee chairs if they got the majority. 99% of the R's in the Oregon legislature are far right. The moderate R's are gone. The few who say they are moderate continue to vote with their right-wing caucus. The Oregon R's want to weaken our top-notch land use laws. I don't want any "R" as a chair of a land use or environment-related committee.

    Oregon Dems want a progressive agenda. Please don't try to water that down.

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    Aileen -

    Thank you for your responses. I share your desire to keep our land-use laws strong, and with Brian Clem in his leadership role on Natural Resources - we should be well served.

    My point is this: we can accomplish a progressive agenda through inclusion, rather than exclusion. Senate President Courtney helped relationships within the Senate this past Legislature with appointment of Senator Boquist as a committee chair (Veterans' Committee).

    When we have to votes to advance our positions, we should ensure that all sides have an opportunity to express themselves. And whenever possible, it is best to go to the voters with structural and/or systemic solutions with at least a few Republicans a part of the coalition seeking its passage.

    Polk County is still struggling with a lot of issues related to the ongoing economic transition. We still don't have the mass of scale, size, and scope for certain types of industry; we still have a reliance upon agriculture and forestry.

    All I ask is that when we begin the hard choices that will be required of this next session (and those with the power to make decisions in it), we seek to build bridges rather than barricades - when we can.

    Yes, like you I seek a progressive agenda. In truth, as a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan/Iraq I am likely even more "radical" on certain/specific issues than our urban Democratic family and friends. I have seen universal health care work - and work well (through the VA). And I believe in government that is effective, rather than efficient.

    And I still believe Oregon is a community of people that have 80% consensus on the issues we have control over. I just want to make sure we demonstrate the ideals of our democratic republic as we transition from the 30/30 balance of this past Legislature.


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    Coming from K. Falls and having visited there in July, I can only consider how toxic the political culture has become there and in other places like it. The openings that can be made are not that many. But I agree with Chris upstream that the health care crisis in rural Oregon is one doorway in to support the Dem. brand in rural and small town Oregon. The infrastructure in many places like that in Oregon is deteriorating, and providing assistance and planning is also a potential doorway. There are the beginnings of development of geothermal and wind energy in Eastern Oregon, and supporting development there could really be an economic boon to that part of the state.

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    Bill - I concur. There are not always a lot of openings, but where we can, when we can, these efforts should become a priority. Thanks again for all you do - and happy Veterans' Day (almost).

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      In the pre-election news it was reported that the Obama administration plans to offer two national public option plans in state exchanges that will offer an alternative to more expensive corporate ins. plans. Perhaps this will help the poorer rural parts of Oregon and the U.S. It is also likely that when the Medicaid extension kicks in, that will help with medical coverage with poorer rural communities where health care coverage is so lacking.

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    I agree with Aileen: the people of Oregon have voted Dems into a majority in both the House and Senate.

    Oregonians also elected a Dem to every statewide office. And overwhelmingly chose Obama to lead our country.

    So the idea of giving Republicans the rein of power in one or more committees strikes me as ridiculous.

    Also, insulting to the voters. If they'd wanted Republican policies to be in control, they would have elected more Oregon Republicans.

    Elections have consequences. More: they SHOULD have consequences. Otherwise, democracy becomes watered down.

    "Vote for Democrats. Who will then put some Republicans in powerful positions." That isn't a campaign slogan I'm comfortable with. My wife and I didn't donate to, and work for, Oregon Democrats this year so they could give their newfound political power away.

    I liked much of what you said in your post, Paul. But no way should Democrats give up any committee power in the 2013 Oregon Legislature.

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    Look, folks. We've gotta work with ALL of Oregon, not just the parts that agree with us.

    But then, I hearken back to an era where cooperativeness was a prized virtue in the Legislature.

    We need to remember that governance differs from campaigning and behave accordingly.

    (But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be sneaky as hell about working on those resonances we share between urban and rural in this state. And let a thousand small businesses bloom. Yeehaw.)

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    There are some realities that need to be grokked if rural life is going to work in the future:

    • resource exploitation that ignores the value of ecosystem services must end.

    • Increasing energy cost is going to severely reduce long drives in fossil-fuel burning vehicles over energy-intensively paved roads.

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