ENDORSEMENT: Vial should get voters' nod in House District 26
Vial is ready to get to work on Day 1.
Voters in rural Hillsboro will have their say next month on a new legislator, and in our view its an easy choice between two men who seek to fill the seat.
House District 26, which stretches from southern Hillsboro south to Sherwood, Bull Mountain, King City and Wilsonville, has two candidates vying to replace current Rep. John Davis, R-Wilsonville, who decided not to see re-election.
The two candidates running for this district couldnt be more different. One, Republican Richard Vial, is a longtime community volunteer dating back 30 years. He served on the Groner School Board before the school merged with Hillsboro decades ago and currently serves as a planning commissioner for Washington County. A retired land use attorney and farmer, Vial intimately knows the issues affecting his largely unincorporated, rural district.
His opponent, Democrat Ray Lister, is a political newcomer who got into politics for the first time when he submitted his paperwork to run for this race.
While Vial has signed the front of paychecks for most of his career, Lister has signed the back, working as an electrician and union negotiator. Hes passionate about blue-collar issues, while Vial is primarily concerned with land use and transportation issues.
The race isnt one that will draw big money or TV advertisements, but it hasnt been without controversy.
When he announced he wasnt seeking re-election, Davis endorsed King Citys John Boylston for the seat in the May primary election. But within days, a former representative, Matt Wingard, entered the race to reclaim the seat he vacated years ago amid scandal.
After Vial easily defeated Boylston and Wingard, House Democrats filed a complaint against him, arguing that he didnt actually live in the home in Scholls which he listed as his primary residence on his campaign filings.
The state quickly ruled in Vial's favor, and for his part, Vial said he was never worried about the ruling.
That calm demeanor will serve him well in Salem, and is part of the reason hes getting our endorsement.
Level-headed and practical, Vial should win this seat easily. He knows the district, living and working in it for three decades. His dual professions give him the skill set to understand the issues that most affect the area and what needs to be done to help his constituents here.
Vial is a Republican through and through. Hes against Measure 97 and Governor Browns proposed gun control regulations. He believes public sector unions are pouring too much money into politics. Perhaps a more moderate voice would be preferable, but House District 26 has been sending Republicans to Salem for years, and Vial fits the mold.
But Vial isnt an idealogue. He agreed with lawmakers about giving cities the authority to annex land without voter approval in certain cases, after an issue in Sherwood which lies within the district made headlines.
The Oregon House of Representatives is dominated by Democrats, meaning Vial will have to work across the aisle to accomplish anything substantial. But that is something he has done on local boards and commissions for many years.
Lister seems to be taking his first foray into electoral politics seriously. But several times, when asked the same questions we posed to Vial, Lister offered what became a common refrain: He doesnt know much about the issue, and he is trying to learn more.
Im still on a learning curve, he confessed, answering one particular question about transportation issues.
Thats a big deal. There are many serious issues facing House District 26 transportation is certainly one of them and its next representative needs to be someone who can hit the ground running in Salem. Lister would have to do a lot of learning on the job. Vial would not. He knows the issues and hes been in this kind of a setting before. He told us he would be ready to get to work on Day 1, and we believe it.
During our endorsement interview, Vial hit the nail on the head when he remarked at one point, Its too bad we cant both serve down there.
We believe Lister when he says he got into politics to help people, and its unfortunate we cant endorse him in this race. Hes got passion and a willingness to learn that we find admirable, and he said the right thing when he told us he does not think the Legislature should operate as one group of partisans working against another. We also appreciate the perspective he would bring to Salem from his blue-collar background.
Wed encourage Lister to get involved in smaller political races such as running for a seat on the Wilsonville City Council, or getting involved with a local city or county commission before making another run at state-level politics in a few years.
But for this race, the choice is clear: Vote Vial for House District 26.