Columbia County residents will face off for Senate District 16 seat this November

Columbia City resident Ray Biggs will challenge Betsy Johnson in November for Oregon's 16th District Senate seat.

Johnson, the incumbent, is running for a fourth term.

Both state Senate candidates are from Columbia County.

Biggs lives in Columbia City and previously served on the St. Helens School Board, as well as the Columbia City Planning Commission.

Biggs Biggs, a retired sheet metal journeyman, says he's seeking election to bring attention to the Constitution Party.

"I'm trying to promote the Constitution Party," Biggs said Tuesday. "A lot of people don't know that party exists. ... The Constitution Party was formed because we believe in the rule of law. If I'm in office, and I'm going to vote on something, I'm gonna look at something and say, 'OK, does our constitution allow us to do this?"

Biggs is an ardent supporter of 2nd Amendment rights. In 2011, Biggs made headlines for bringing a concealed gun to a Columbia City school during his campaign for a seat on the school board.

Aside from gun ownership, Biggs cited abortion as the biggest issue affecting Oregon.

"The single biggest issue for me is the abortion," Biggs says. "I don't call it 'abortion,' I call it 'baby-killing.' Compared to serial killers, child rapists — this tops the list. Betsy backs baby-killers."

He says his platform mirrors that of his party's.

"Most of the things we vote on are based on emotion," he said of the current system. "It takes the emotion out of decision-making and says, what are the rules?"

This year marks Biggs's first Senate run. Like others running in county and district races, he says he filed for the seat to give voters a choice.

"Betsy ran totally unopposed in the primary," Biggs notes of Johnson. "And I found out that if three or more voters write in a candidate, then that party automatically endorses them."

"Betsy's a generational politician. She's been in office now just shy of 18 years total. I believe citizens ought to step into these positions and then go back to work."

Biggs emphasizes he's a "Christian who believes in God."

"I don't just throw that banner out there willy-nilly. If I don't get elected, then apparently God didn't want me in there," Biggs says.

Johnson says abortion is "settled law" and isn't likely to be taken up by the Oregon State Legislature anytime soon, but scoffs at the term "baby-killer."

"Nobody is pro-abortion," Johnson said by phone Thursday. "I just happen to support all options for women's health care and [believe] decisions are to be made among a woman, her family and her doctor."

JohnsonJohnson quickly interrupts her call to answer another call in an ongoing effort to find temporary housing for an elderly Clatsop County couple in need of emergency shelter.

"That's one of the reasons I believe I bring value to this job," Johnson says. "I am happy to employ every tool in my toolbox in service to the citizens of Senate District 16."

She emphasizes jobs, the Public Employee Retirement System, a skilled workforce, stabilizing the state's revenue system and housing as pressing priorities to be addressed.

"That used to be a Portland problem," Johnson says of the housing crisis. "It's an everywhere problem now."

Johnson says Oregon needs a "review of spending and acknowledgement that we have a problem with PERS and finding a real solution that is equitable and sustainable."

Both candidates will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

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