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Five candidates square off for Second District Rep.

Three Democrats hope to represent Oregon in Congress


The Democratic primary race for Oregon’s Second Congressional District Representative has drawn the interest of three candidates this election with diverse viewpoints on key issues.

Each brings their own plans for how to address several of the pressing concerns and issues voiced by constituents of the district and others citizens throughout the country.

For instance, job creation strategies tended to differ considerably between Sunriver resident Frank Vulliet, fellow Central Oregonian Aelea Christofferson of Bend, and Ashland native Barney Spera.

“Beyond the public works projects that President Obama has proposed ... I don’t have a whole lot of ideas about how you create jobs,” Vulliet said. “The problem is when the economy slows down, it tends to contract. Business really hasn’t picked up the slack. They are not creating jobs.”

Christofferson, founder and president of ATL Communications, believes that the best way to boost the job market is for lawmakers to stay out of the way.

“Unless we are talking about forestry, most of the job creation needs are not driven by the federal government,” she said, “they are driven by the federal government staying out of it and letting businesses like mine do what they need to do to create jobs.”

Regarding forestry and its employment potential, Christofferson added the government needs to take a balanced approach that will protect forests, but not at the expense of stifling job opportunities.

Spera, on the other hand, emphatically supports an increase in the minimum wage to generate job growth.

“The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago says for every one dollar rise in the wage, that individual has $2,800 of disposable income,” he said. “Americans are spenders. They are not going to save. They spend that money and they create more jobs that way.”

When it comes to reducing the national debt and balancing the federal budget, Spera believes a minimum wage increase will help. While he supports military budget cuts, he insists that a higher minimum wage will lead to more tax revenue as well as more jobs that further boosts tax income.

Vulliet would like to take the time to write a new internal revenue code.

“It would remain a progressive income tax,” he said. “I would get rid of all special tax breaks that tend to favor a particular industry.”

On the expense side, he also expressed a desire to limit military spending. He stated that the last war fought where Americans were in danger was World War II, and therefore believes there is no need to engage in the military action and wars that have followed.

Regarding budget cuts, Christofferson said that everybody is going to have a give up something in order to bring the national debt down. In addition, she believes partisan politics should stay out of the process.

“We need to have a more serious discussions where people park their party alignment at the door and figure out what needs to happen,” she said.

When it comes to health care, each candidate expressed general support for the Affordable Care Act, but agreed there is room to improve the new program.

Spera considers the federal plan the best option available, and would primarily like to loosen restriction on where people can shop for insurance.

“I think that people should be able to go across state lines to other insurance carriers, and that would increase competition and lower premiums,” he said.

Vulliet similarly believes the government needs to do a better job of addressing health care costs.

“The ACA was a move in the right direction,” he said, “but it was badly designed. If we were going to do a complete do-over, I would do a two-tier system like they have in Canada.”

Christofferson served on the Cover Oregon board before resigning to run for office. She was angered by how the website failures of the state exchanges and others throughout the country were used to suggest the whole health care plan had failed.

“The roll out was a mess,” she said. “Nobody denies that. And the ACA was flawed, but that doesn’t mean we don’t take what we have and work on it until we get it right.”

The primary election will be held on May 20. Whichever candidate emerges from the Democratic race will go on to face the Republican nominee in the November general election.




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