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Public Safety Advisory Committee members go head-to-head for state-rep seat in aim to help police officers

Republican primary election candidates for Oregon House District 41 both serve on the city of Milwaukie's Public Safety Advisory Committee and say more needs to be done in Salem to support police officers.Elvis Clark and Rob Reynolds

Milwaukie voters are familiar with Elvis Clark and Rob Reynolds, having run unsuccessfully in previous elections, Clark as a city councilor and Reynolds as a Congressman. However, Republicans in the largely Blue state-rep district that includes Oak Grove see an opportunity with the resignation of Rep. Karin Power, creating the area's first open seat in six years.

Power won the seat in 2016 with more than 70% of the vote, and easily won reelection in the subsequent two contests. Whoever prevails in this year's Republican primary will likely continue to emphasize public safety in taking on the Democrats' choice, either Mayor Mark Gamba or Kaliko Castille, both of Milwaukie.

"Everyone has a right to safety, which means not only dedicating resources to prevention, but holding criminals accountable for their actions," Reynolds wrote in his Voters' Pamphlet statement. "We need to strengthen laws that support our police, and follow-through with prosecution."

Clark, a retired economist for the Oregon Public Utilities Commission and the Bonneville Power Administration, said "just like the rest of us," police must obey the law and be held accountable when they don't.

"At the same time, police must be able to vigorously enforce the law confident we have their backs," Clark wrote. "We need to adequately fund, train, and honor the vast majority of police who serve with honor and heroism. Enough of this crime wave — let's take our streets back."

Reynolds, who describes himself as a business development manager, promises to remain an "unwavering supporter of the right to keep and bear arms." Rather than allow tolling, if elected, he would introduce legislation to reduce the gas tax until the state can develop "a solid plan" to fund highways and bridges.

"We need to expand our transportation capacity on roads and bridges, not prioritize bike lanes over infrastructure that carries freight and commuters," he said.

Reynolds has a plan to slow down the annual destruction of wildfires: "We need to manage our forests with policies that allow for thinning of state and federal forests to prevent the widespread devastation that have become commonplace every summer. This will create jobs and prevent the kind of air pollution from smoke that eliminates any gain we've made with low carbon policies."

Clark said, "It's time to shut down homeless camps and tent communities" while working with churches, communities, and networks of shelters and services to make alternatives of homelessness safer and more accessible.

"Facilitating job creation, instead of chasing employers away, will also reduce homelessness," Clark wrote. "I want to help and show compassion to people struggling to survive. But widespread homelessness and aggressive panhandling is no answer. Both threaten our health and safety."

On the state's education system, Clark said parents should be the primary directors of their children's education, not government officials.

"School curriculum, teaching methods, board policies, and other such things must fully transparent and easily accessible to parents," he wrote. "Money should follow students into any accredited public, private, charter, or home school chosen by parents because poor, working and middle class parents should have more of the same choices that rich parents have. Our schools should be as diverse as our children are."

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