Main takeaways from KOIN, Pamplin Oregon GOP governor's debate
The four leading Republican candidates for governor took each other on in a televised debate on Thursday night, hosted by KOIN 6 News and Pamplin Media Group.
Bud Pierce, Christine Drazan, Stan Pulliam and Bob Tiernan all took part in the debate. They were selected from all the GOP candidates based on criteria set forth by Nexstar Broadcasting Inc., KOIN 6's parent company. The debate was hosted by KOIN 6 News anchor Jeff Gianola.
Homelessness was a question tackled early on in the night, with the first question directed to Pierce.
When asked what he'll do about the homeless issue plaguing the state, Bud Pierce say said Oregon needs to get people off the street and into shelters.
"What we need to do is get people out of the homeless situation, into shelters — shelters that are transforming their lives from lies of abject suffering to lives that matter to them and to us," he said.
Pierce stated many of these people suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, along with untreated mental illness. He wants to support them through this to end their suffering, and in doing so, "eliminating crime on our streets."
Later on in the night, Pierce was asked what his plan is if homeless people won't go into a shelter. He said if people leave the shelter and end up in the public space again, that's not okay and they're breaking the law because there's good help for them. He said people will be placed in a locked shelter or will be incarcerated for some time.
Pierce also stated he'd like to be known as the governor who ended homelessness in the state.
[Where do the candidates stand? Nearly three dozen candidates for governor are vying for their parties' nomination in the 2022 primaries on May 17. A collaboration of Oregon journalists wrote 15 questions to help you get to know these folks before you cast your ballot. Click here to see how each candidate responded to our questions on housing, crime, education, the economy and environmental issues]
When Tiernan was asked what he would do about the homeless issue, he said it is more than a Portland problem, it affects communities throughout the state.
Tiernan said allowing people to live on the street creates more problems. He also said "We need to put a stop to the riots," despite that not being part of the question.
Following Tiernan's response, Pulliam said he's the only candidate addressing the "criminal element of living on the street." He said we need to triple the size of the state police.
"We need to be tough with the criminal elements living on the street," Pulliam said.
After Pulliam concluded, Drazan said we have "got to clear our streets" by addressing the root causes of the homeless issue.
"Yes it is people without housing, but it is also people facing mental illness, behavioral health struggles, substance use disorder, addiction and the criminal element absolutely comes from those challenges," she said. "What we have to do is support out local governments and recognize that we actually have a very sturdy and strong safety net in our state — and we need to use it."
She says we need to offer people the help they need to get off the street and enforce ordinances that keep streets clear so people can walk on sidewalks and feel safe while doing so.
A viewer question was presented during the debate, which asked "Do you think the results of the 2020 Presidential election were fair?"
The question was first presented to Drazan, who stated there were "irregularities in the election across the nation." However, she noted that in 2020, she was the House Republican Leader and in that position, she worked to ensure Oregon election system has integrity.
"We absolutely had challenges in some of our races but I can tell you from personal experience, that the ballots that were turned in that were fraudulent were not counted and people should have cause to have faith in their elections in 2022," she said.
Pierce answered the question next, stating he believes that Joe Biden was elected president — but said more needs to be done about election integrity. Pierce said he feels great about Oregon's vote-by-mail system, but he'd like to see more oversight to it, so people have confidence in the result of the election.
Tiernan's answer, like the two before him, was that Biden won the 2020 election. He believes there was some bumbling and fraud in the election across the nation, but ultimately thinks Trump lost the election because he lost in Georgia.
Then came Pulliam's answer, phrased as if he was speaking directly to his audience.
He went on to mention vote-by-mail and Hunter Biden.
"Well Republicans, do you hear those answers? They're the same as a week ago: Biden, Biden, Biden," Pulliam said emphatically. "They all three say Biden won — and here's the deal, this is why it's important: first of all, are these the same remarks you're getting in republic lecture halls when they travel the state and answer your questions? Additionally, if you can't trust a conservative candidate to stand up and speak truth to power here, now in a primary, you certainly can never trust those people to stand up as your next governor and to stand by our conservative principles as your next governor. The 2020 election was absolutely fraudulent," Pulliam said.
When asked about interstate tolling, Pulliam said he's against it. He said he'll stand in the way of any proposed tolling that came his way. He thinks tolling is unfair without providing any additional lanes or improvements to the roads.
Drazan agreed that congestion pricing cannot move forward. She said Oregon already pays a lot in taxes and that what we pay for our roads should already support our roads.
Drazan said families who can't control when they take their kids to school or head to work would pay the price with tolls.
Pierce is also against tolling freeways, he said. He said in the era of zero-polluting cars, we need more roads and bridges and that it's already way too expensive for people to live in Oregon. He said tolls are a way to get out of building more road capacity.
"We don't pay for what we've already paid for," he stated.
Tiernan agrees the roads are already paid for and people don't need to pay for them again, stating tolling is another way the government is trying to collect more dollars.
He feels this will incentivize poorer people to stay home and will discourage people from coming to Portland because it will cost them to drive on the freeways. He believes the traffic problem needs to be solved, but this isn't the way to solve it.
During the lightning round segment of the debate, Drazan was asked whether she would work to increase restrictions on abortions in Oregon. She answered with a very definitive statement.
"I am a pro-life woman," she said. "If any legislation comes to my desk to expand access to abortion in the state of Oregon, I will veto it.
KOIN 6 News' Lisa Balick was a panelist for the debate, during which she asked how candidates specifically would make rural Oregon areas feel less forgotten.
Right off the bat, Pulliam stated he'd "let them know that they're not forgotten."
"What they want is individual control, they want empowerment of their own communities and are tired of Portland politicians forcing their values and beliefs on us," he said.
Being from Klamath Falls, Drazan said she understands what people in rural areas of the state are going through.
"They're not asking for us to suddenly create more government to accommodate them, they're asking for us to give them their lives back, to respect the differences that exist in the rural parts of the state and you do that by getting gov out of their lives more. It's absolutely possible and we have to do it, they deserve it," Drazan said.
Along with focusing on bringing back a natural resource-based economy back to the state, Pierce said if he is elected governor, he'd like to spend 2-3 months at a time in different parts of the state and wants to live in different parts of Oregon while the legislature is not in session.
Tiernan said he'd treat every part of Oregon like it's his own backyard. He said a problem in any small community is his problem.
Natural resource economy
A viewer out of Gresham poised the question "What issue facing Oregon do you believe is most overlooked or not talked about enough?"
Pierce kicked this off by saying he would like to bring the natural resource-based economy back to rural areas of the state, something he also addressed when discussing how he would ensure rural Oregon would not feel forgotten.
"We found out from the pandemic, supply chain disruptions, or the war in Ukraine that we're very, right now totally dependent on other countries and society for materials that we absolutely need to have. its good to have trade and to have a relationship so we have a good relationships but we can't be absolutely dependent."
Pierce wants to see more products like timber harvested in Oregon and more food grown in the state. He said we rely on overseas production too much and by bringing back a timber economy, we would help smaller communities.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of Pamplin Media Group.
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