Opinion: Change is needed in Salem
March 6 was a pivotal day for me. Two days before the deadline for candidates to file for Oregon State House, no Republican had filed in our district. Was the party registration of 50% Democrat and 20% Republican scaring candidates away or were voters of this district just fine with the direction in which Oregon has been going under one-party rule?
The off-putting reaction to party registration numbers I understood. What I could not understand was any satisfaction with the Oregon of today — the partisanship and polarization that has become entrenched in Salem. I was taught if you don't like something — participate in the process and change it. So, on March 8, I made a decision that was not in my long-term planning — I filed to run for state representative.
I'm a husband and proud father of four publicly educated children. I'm a small business owner and an unapologetic supporter of businesses big and small. Politically I'm an unabashed centrist. I'm not a fan of hard party labels. I want to be part of a new team in Salem not afraid to govern from the middle. I want to bring back the words dialogue and compromise and have those words be seen as signs of strength and leadership.
The Oregon of today is in conflict with the Oregon of yesterday. Today we are often a national negative punchline. Yesterday we were known for so many positive "firsts." Decisions made by a partisan lopsided state government with no appetite for bipartisan dialogue has caused this state to become seriously off track. Working from a middle to reach consensus for the greater good has been put aside.
The homeless crisis ruining our communities and affecting our businesses is not a Republican or Democrat crisis. It's an Oregon crisis. The compassionate Republican and Democrat goal should be to get the unsheltered populations off our streets, out of danger and squalor and into treatment and rehabilitation facilities. That is going to take dialogue and consensus; sadly missing in Salem right now!
Rising crime rates and gun violence is not a Republican or Democrat crisis. It is an Oregon crisis. Defunding the police was nothing more than a kneejerk, partisan political reaction. The collective Republican and Democrat goal must be to immediately reallocate funding to increase law enforcement efforts and demand accountability from our criminal justice system. That is going to take balance; sadly missing in Salem over years of one-party rule!
The abysmal ranking of Oregon schools in the bottom third nationally is not a Republican or Democrat crisis. It is an Oregon crisis. The overriding goal of the legislature must be to re-allocate funding and raise expectations and standards so that Oregon's students reach their full potential and are competitive. And that is going to take moderation; sadly missing from politicians in Salem with their feet in partisan cement!
Oregon taxpayers' not getting value from Salem's spending is not a Republican or Democrat crisis. It is an Oregon crisis. Reckless spending and throwing our tax dollars at a problem without accountability from state government must end. A bipartisan approach to evaluate the return on the amount of money paid in taxes must be a priority. And that's going to take a demand for accountability.
I'm looking for likeminded voters who want a more balanced legislature, with more centrists to bring moderation and accountability to Salem.
Change can start with you!
Lake Oswego resident Alistair Firmin is running as a Republican for House District 38.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.