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As part of our ongoing election coverage, the Hillsboro Tribune asked the three candidates competing to be chosen as the state representative for House District 30 to respond to several questions covering a variety of issues.

The three candidates seeking a two-year term are incumbent state Rep. Joe Gallegos, a Democrat who is an Air Force veteran and a former college professor; Dan Mason, the Republican Party candidate who works as the community manager for one of the largest apartment complexes in Tanasbourne; and Kyle Markley of the Libertarian Party, whose professional background is in computer microprocessor validation.

House District 30 includes much of Washington County. It includes portions of Hillsboro, North Plains, Helvetia, the area directly south of Banks and portions of Aloha and Reedville.

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE: Why did you decide to run for this office?

Joe GallegosGALLEGOS: I moved to Hillsboro over 20 years ago because of the high quality public schools, and the academic options for my daughter. Since then, I’ve witnessed classrooms becoming unacceptably overcrowded, programs getting cut, and days slashed from the school year.

I ran for office because I believe the Legislature needs people who will reach across the aisle and work with a wide range of partners with varying perspectives. In my first term, I successfully worked with local leaders to secure an additional $10 million for Washington County classrooms, supported historic investments in career technical education programs, and championed legislation that makes college more affordable for Oregon families. We were able to make significant progress, but there is still so much work to do to ensure that every student has a chance to earn a high quality education, access an effective training program, or go to college without going into a lifetime of debt.

I want to use my second term in the Legislature to build off the work I accomplished in my first term and continue to advocate for effective changes in K-12 education, advancements in career training programs and affordable higher education.

Kyle MarkleyMARKLEY: I first ran for this office in 2012 because it was clear to me that mainstream politicians were ignoring issues that I cared about. Despite having a small campaign — my opponents spent over a hundred times as much money as I did — my issues resonated with the people, which encouraged me to run again. Even if I lose, by simply being in the race I call attention to neglected issues and demonstrate that there is a real alternative to the Democrat/Republican mainstream. I am reaching voters that want to move in a different direction, and pointing the way.

Dan MasonMASON: As a community manager, I've seen the challenges people face at all stages of their lives. My residents range from young people just starting out, to families rebuilding after losing their home, to seniors on a fixed income. I've been told I have a knack for listening and being able to solve their problems, and I enjoy it. The Legislature offers a larger platform to help people, making sure we're protecting the vulnerable while preserving the individual freedoms and personal responsibility that have made this country great.

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE: In your view, what is the biggest issue facing state lawmakers over the next two years?

GALLEGOS: For decades, Oregon has disinvested in our K-12 system. Although we passed a historic education budget in the 2013 session, our schools are far from where they should be. Our three most critical problems are: Our class sizes are too big, our school days are being cut, and we’re losing critical programs from schools throughout the state.

MARKLEY: For most of them, re-election! In my case, I expect that the rest of the Legislature would push me away from high-profile items like the budget, so I would work to reform in areas with broad appeal but that Republicans and Democrats have neglected.

I would repeal civil asset forfeiture. I would fix our uncompetitive business property tax system. I would reduce licensing and regulatory barriers. I would enhance public and police safety by recording police encounters. I would resist new taxes and new infringements on your freedom.

MASON: The largest priority of any state government is K-12 education. We need to fund it first -- before any other spending bill. We also need to restore professional/technical education in our high schools and expand access to charter schools. Our state is near the top for spending per student, but a giant chunk of that goes toward PERS, resulting in less money getting to the classroom. I support reforming our educational system to lower class sizes and get more money into the classroom.

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE: What do you believe is the most important issue in your district?

GALLEGOS: I believe that as the economic engine of the state, Washington County schools should reflect the prosperity of our industries. We are growing rapidly, but funding for our schools is falling short. I want our students to be first in line for the jobs being created here in Oregon and I plan to work with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle, along with parents, students, and the business and education communities, to work toward finding a collaborative approach in order to fully fund our schools and give our students the strongest foundation for success.

MARKLEY: This district is home to a significant amount of capital investment by technology companies like Intel, Genentech and SolarWorld. That makes us disproportionately affected by Oregon's broken business property tax system, which includes machinery and equipment in the definition of real property subject to tax (ORS 307.010(1)(b)(B)). Machinery and equipment do not consume government services, so they should not be taxed. Instead of this very simple fix, my opponents are both vocal supporters of the Strategic Investment Program, which is only available to the largest businesses, and only through negotiations between business and government that smack of special interest dealing.

MASON: Aside from education, transportation is the biggest issue in Washington County. Our community has thrived while others struggle, in large part due to the incentives that have helped Intel and Nike expand. We need to make sure our infrastructure keeps up, and right now it's lagging behind. Our citizens spend more time stuck in traffic than is reasonable for our community's contribution to the state economy. I intended to bring that argument to the Legislature and make sure the state is reinvesting in our county to ease congestion and provide adequate infrastructure for future growth.

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE: Given the number of farms and food producing businesses in your district, what are your thoughts on Measure 92, which would require mandatory labeling of food products with genetically modified organisms?

GALLEGOS: The initiatives on this November’s ballot are posed directly to Oregon voters. And as a legislator, I believe it’s my responsibility to enact the will of the people. Should voters choose to pass 92, I will work to assure that the measure’s implementation is safe, fair and just for all Oregonians and family farms.

MARKLEY: I oppose Measure 92. Knowing whether a food is genetically engineered, or contains such ingredients, provides no nutritional or safety information whatsoever. The purpose of this measure is to scare people away from certain foods and into the arms of competing producers. This is a brazenly anti-competitive and protectionist measure, exactly the kind of thing government should stay out of.

Nothing prevents the producers of non-genetically-engineered foods from voluntarily labeling their products as such, in order to provide consumers with the same information they believe is so important. Shamefully, they would rather use government to increase their competitors' costs.

MASON: The initiative is inconsistent in what products are governed by it, but in general I don't have a problem with labeling. I'll vote for the bill and hope to clean up some of the inconsistencies in the Legislature.

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE: Why do you believe voters would best be served by choosing you to represent them over your opponents?

GALLEGOS: As a parent, an educator, and a longtime member of this community, I believe my experience and pragmatism are best suited to respond to the needs of our schools, the concerns of our farms and businesses, and the sustainable growth of our industries. I understand the struggles facing working families in our community, and I’m committed to making the economy work for everybody. We have big challenges facing our state in the coming years, and we need to have elected leaders who have the right priorities. I’m asking for your vote this November so I can continue working to improve the lives of everyone in our community.

MARKLEY: By their public statements, my opponents' policies are almost indistinguishable. A vote for them is a vote for more of the same kind of disappointing government we already have: more special favors for special interests, subsidies, tax breaks, and an ever-increasing symbiosis between government and business and labor; more controls, more regulations, and more limits on your freedom.

In contrast, I want to hold government down to its proper purpose of protecting individual rights. I want to repeal or reform bad laws. I want government to maintain a level playing field, to be just a referee, not a player.

MASON: Reps. Gallegos and Unger tried to dismantle the very incentives that have made our county the biggest job creator in the state — and now that he's up for re-election, he claims to support it, in contradiction to his actions. It's dishonest to say one thing and do another. The very least we can expect of our public officials is that they'll listen to us, tell the truth, and act on our behalf without the influence of special interests. That's the way I was raised, that's the way I've conducted my personal and professional life, and that's the way I'll serve you in the Legislature. I want to restore your trust in state government — or at the least to restore your trust in the office of your state representative.

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