Daniel Bonham is new state rep
After two hours of questions and comments, commissioners from four Central Oregon counties — Jefferson, Deschutes, Wasco and Wheeler — selected the new state representative for District 59 on Monday, at the Jefferson County Courthouse.
Daniel Bonham, of The Dalles, was chosen from a field of three candidates, which also included Jefferson County Commissioner Mae Huston, of Culver, and Bob Perry, of Eagle Crest, a retired director of marketing from the Gillette Co. Bonham received 35.31 out of a total of 46 votes, while Perry received 5.66, and Huston received 4.33.
Based on the number of registered voters in the portion of Deschutes County that lies within the district (15,805), each of the three Deschutes commissioners was allotted 5.33 votes; in Wasco County (15,070), each was allotted 5 votes; in Jefferson County (13,684), each was allotted 4.66 votes; and in Wheeler County (1,016), each was allotted 0.33 votes. One Wheeler County commissioner was not present and did not vote.
Bonham, 40, will fill out the remainder of former Rep. John Huffman's term, which ends Dec. 31, 2018. After 10 years representing the district, Huffman resigned Oct. 28, to accept the position of Oregon director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development.
"It's humbling," said Bonham after the vote. "There are big shoes to fill. John Huffman did a good job of getting out and covering the whole district."
When Bonham decided to apply for the position, he noted, "(Huffman) was my first phone call. He said, 'It' a tough job. It's designed to be part time, but needs to be full time.'"
As a sitting commissioner, Huston could have cast her 4.66 votes for herself, but instead opted to throw her support behind Bonham.
"I was so impressed when I heard his five-minute speech, his enthusiasm, his energy and his strong desire to serve, and that convinced me that he would serve us well," she said.
"He's young and energetic, and he will serve longer," said Huston, who has already filed to retain her position on the Jefferson County Commission. "I love Jefferson County and I want to serve here."
Business owner in The Dalles
For the past 10 years, Bonham has owned Maupin's Stove & Spas, in The Dalles, with his wife, Lori, who works as the executive assistant to human resources for The Dalles School District.
An Oregon native, Bonham grew up in Tigard, where he graduated from Tigard High School in 1995. He and his wife met at Linfield College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in international business.
After graduating in 1999, he went to work for Evergreen International Aviation, in McMinnville, where he remained until 2006. He spent a year working for RB Rubber Products, also in McMinnville, before purchasing the stove and spa business, and moving his family to The Dalles.
He and his wife have two children, Jennifer, 19, a student at Grand Canyon University, in Arizona, and Jack, 17.
The candidates fielded questions from the assembled commissioners on how they would stay connected in the large district, how long they would commit to the position, and their views on organized labor, abortion, guns, the guest worker program, land use, Medicaid expansion, and Oregon's slogans.
Bonham said that while he wouldn't have the luxury of hiring his spouse as an aide, as Huffman had done, he would plan to have one aide located in the southern part of the district and one in Salem. "The important thing in this job is to figure out local needs," he said.
"I have the capability to walk away from my business for weeks or months at a time," said Bonham, noting that he has great staff at his business.
Perry said that issues don't change a lot from one community to another in the district, but since he's retired, "My time is my own, and that means if I'm appointed, my time is yours."
Huston said that when she was running for County Commission, "I learned to go where the people are," she said. "The phone is one of the best ways to stay connected."
Asked how long they would commit to the job, if the district supported them, their answers varied considerably. Bonham said that he supports term limits, but Huffman's 10-year commitment was a good amount of time to be effective and then recruit and mentor a replacement.
Perry said he was committed to the temporary post, and "can't see myself doing this for a long period of time."
Huston said that while she would have considered 10 years, her husband didn't agree, so she would "take it two years at a time."
Regarding organized labor, Perry, who served on the Redmond School Board, said that he was "seeing harm" from it.
Huston said that she could see the benefits since both her father and husband were in unions, but those benefits "increasingly have failed."
Bonham believes unions should be voluntary. "The original purpose has changed from serving workers to serving itself."
On the topic of abortion and guns, Huston said she is a member of the National Rifle Association, and believes in individual rights and personal responsibility. "I definitely stand for traditional values with compassion," she said.
Bonham said he is "a right-to-life person," but also "a man who believes in the rule of law."
Perry supports the right to bear arms, and is vehemently opposed to government funding of abortion. "I don't think government should decide," he said.
Guest worker programs elicited varied responses from the three. Bonham and Perry both consider it a complicated issue that they don't yet know enough about. However, Perry added, "I'm so opposed to sanctuary cities and sanctuary states that it's not even funny." Huston said that she supports workers and it's an issue "that needs to be dealt with."
All three candidates believe that Oregon's land-use laws are too restrictive, particularly in rural areas. "I think that's one issue the state overregulates," said Huston.
On the subject of Medicaid expansion, Huston said that health care should be between a patient and doctor, and she would like to see fewer regulations.
Although Medicare is more efficiently administered than other forms of health care, Bonham said it doesn't actually provide the needed services. "An open, free market is a better system than government regulation," he said.
Perry said he was opposed to the Affordable Care Act. "I wish Obamacare never happened," he said. "People need to take responsibility for their actions."
Oregon's slogans — the "Oregon Way," and "Keep Oregon Green" — also drew mixed reactions.
"To me, 'Keep Oregon Green' means the environmental lobby has gotten too strong," said Perry, who does not believe in climate change.
Huston said that the "Oregon Way" reminds her of her family's pioneer roots, and the way her mother recycled and repurposed everything.
Bonham suggested that one aspect of keeping Oregon green is investing in economic growth and sustainability through forest management.
Before the vote, all three expressed their views that it was a strong field of candidates, and both Huston and Perry praised Bonham.
"I think he will be a wonderful representative," said Huston.