Jerred Taylor believes businesses can grow and be profitable while also providing employees with a living wage. In turn, he says, those jobs will become even more important as the mid-valley grows.
Taylor, who has lived in Albany for about 10 years, is running as a Democrat for the House District 15 seat that will open with Andy Olson's retirement at the end of the year. Shelly Boshart-Davis is seeking the post as a Republican and Cynthia Hyatt is running as an independent candidate.
Taylor became active in local politics, he says, when he helped form the Albany Community Together PAC to challenge the Albany City Council. He and others felt felt council members were not being responsive to all sectors of the community.
“It came about when the Human Relations Commission language surrounding bigotry and racism were being discussed,” he said.
Taylor grew up in Oakridge, a town of about 3,500 residents east of Eugene, and has been involved in supply logistic work for years. While attending Oregon State University, he chaired the Associated Students of Oregon State University and the Senate Appropriations and Budgets Committee. Today, he volunteers with the Albany Downtown Association and formerly was a volunteer firefighter with the Oakridge Fire Department.
“My perspective comes from working in the private sector,” he said. “I’m pro-worker and believe employees should be treated fairly, but businesses — large or small — also must be able to make a profit and can’t be saddled with unreasonable regulations and taxes.”
Taylor says all too often people think a business is making a lot of money when in reality, its profit margin is slim. For example, he previously worked for Panasonic in Salem. Although a high-dollar industry, its profits are slim because of international trading and supply purchases.
“I think it’s important that we constantly look for ways to benefit both sides — business and workers — and that means listening to input from both sides of the table,” he said. “I believe I have a unique perspective and am capable of doing that.”
Taylor supports the county’s plan to develop an intermodal reloading facility at Millersburg. He says the development of an Amazon warehouse in Salem — 1 million square feet and 1,000 jobs — will increase traffic on the already congested Interstate 5.
“I understand how important it is for mid-valley businesses to get their products around the country as efficiently as possible,” he said.
Taylor says that despite an improving economy, the mid-valley has lost 5 percent of its manufacturing jobs in the last 10 years. Many of those jobs were high-paying with sound benefits. He also believes newly arriving businesses and industries will require an educated workforce.
“They will need skilled labor and that means supporting our schools adequately,” he said. “That has to start before kindergarten, at preschool or Head Start. We need smaller classroom sizes and adequate funding to help children overcome the impediments to learning in their lives, such as poverty.”
Taylor said he grew up in a family that valued hard work, community service and standing up for one's beliefs.