Three candidates are vying to succeed the retiring Andy Olson in House District 15, which includes North Albany, in the November election.
Shelly Boshart Davis
Republican Shelly Boshart Davis said two issues have stood out as she campaigns door-to-door.
“I’m amazed at the encouragement I am receiving and that includes how many comments I’ve heard from people who want me to continue the bipartisan leadership that Andy was known for in Salem,” she said. “And Andy has helped open my eyes to the severity of our foster children’s programs and the need to support those who work in the system, as well as foster parents. The need is amazing.”
Boshart Davis said a lifetime spent in farming and agri-business has taught her that private-public partnerships are vital if Oregon expects to improve high school graduation rates, decrease the workload on Department of Human Services employees, and create successful school-to-work business education training programs like the Pipeline program in Albany.
“I’d love to see the Pipeline program go countywide,” she said. “Foster families are getting wonderful support from a private program called Every Child.”
Boshart Davis considers agriculture and natural resource jobs extremely important to all of Oregon, but especially in rural areas.
“I think it’s very important that ag and natural resources be better represented in Salem,” she said. “I tell kids that Oregon agriculture adds to the state’s economy. We produce more than we can consume, so we export many crops and that creates jobs around our state. I am always excited to talk about agriculture.”
In 2015, Boshart Davis was selected as the National Farm Mom of the Year out of more than 1,400 nominees.
She supports the proposed $25 million transload facility that could be constructed at the former International Paper mill site at Millersburg. The project is one of two finalists being considered by the Oregon Department of Transportation.
“There are two railroad lines and Interstate 5 right there,” she said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for area producers and shippers and the leadership team that has been put together to manage the project is phenomenal.”
Jerred Taylor, a Democrat, said mid-valley residents share a concern that wages have not kept up with the escalating cost of rent. He's knocked on many doors in the district and learned that the increased cost of housing is at the top of residents' concerns.
“I’ve had really good interactions and people are really concerned about this issue,” he said. “Wages just haven’t kept up. One woman told me there is a large patch of toxic mold in her home. I saw it. She is afraid to tell her landlord because she has already had two rent increases and she fears losing her home if the rent goes up anymore.”
Taylor supports Ballot Measure 102, which would allow public and private financing partnerships to develop affordable housing statewide.
“We have to do something like this to address this issue,” he said.
Taylor also supports the concept of stabilizing rent increases based on regional costs.
“I think we have to set realistic expectations and make sure rent increases are in line with costs to landlords. Not just what markets can afford,” he said. “We believe housing prices need to be addressed from multiple sides. This is not rent control, it’s saying we need to look at demographics and what is a reasonable target cap.”
Taylor said the current atmosphere in Oregon is that rents can be raised arbitrarily, pricing people out of homes.
“We don’t have the housing inventory to keep up with the need for affordable housing,” he said.
Taylor said it’s important to continue to support education programs such as the local Pipeline program that connects students with local industries.
“I strongly support career and technical education programs and am impressed with Linn-Benton Community College’s Career Development Center. It offers programs that provides skills local manufacturers need. It is important we continue to provide resources that keep those graduates in the area.”
Taylor supports the proposed transload facility at Millersburg and sees it as offering two key benefits: decreasing traffic on Interstate 5 and supporting the possibility of increased manufacturing jobs due to competitive shipping rates.
Taylor has participated in numerous area forums and said the interaction with people has been refreshing.
Taylor grew up in Oak Ridge and says he is pro-worker, but says business must be able to make a profit. He feels employers and employees can work together for the benefit of all and local job growth.
“We want to make sure our area is a beacon for the working class spirit,” he said.
Independent Cynthia Hyatt is seeking the House District 15 seat because she knows what it's like to be a single mother trying to make ends meet. She wants to help the state control spending and taxes that she says weigh heavily on working-class families.
“I feel like our most vulnerable, our working-class families, need someone to stick up for them,” she said. “I remember what it was like and feeling like I was in a rut and couldn’t get out of it.”
Hyatt supports Ballot Measure 103, which would impose a constitutional amendment that would ban the state from imposing taxes on groceries.
“I know we don’t have a sales tax on groceries now, but it is possible for the state to create one,” she said.
Education is a key area of concern for Hyatt.
“I think we need to create incentives that will keep kids in school and programs that will help improve our graduation rate,” she said. “Our graduation rate is among the lowest in the country.”
Hyatt would like schools to create tutoring programs to help students get the background that would allow them to take classes at LBCC their senior year.
“I know the program exists, but I think we need to boost that with more one-on-one tutoring or help as needed,” she said.
She also would like to see schools expand their vocational/trades programs.
Hyatt said children should not be subjected to ridicule at school lunchrooms because they don’t have the ability to pay.
“I’ve heard of kids getting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if their parents didn’t pay for their lunch cards,” she said. “That’s not acceptable.”
Hyatt feels the Legislature has a spending problem and must be more fiscally conservative.
She believes the Second Amendment's gun ownership rights should be preserved.