The Oregon senator hosted a town hall to discuss drug pricing, impeachment, election interference

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Approximately 60 people were in attendance at U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden's town hall in St. Helens on Jan. 2. Audience members asked questions and shared concerns from housing development and veterans services to impeachment.U.S. Senator Ron Wyden held a town hall in St. Helens last week. The Thursday, Jan. 2 town hall was his second town hall of 2020 but one of nearly 1,000 during his legislative career.

At the town hall, Wyden touted his bipartisan accomplishments, noting legislation he crafted across the aisle.

One of those examples was the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act introduced with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

"One of the reasons I am so focused on bipartisanship is my view is that if one side wins and one side loses, the side that loses waits until they get back in charge and then they can become the winners," Wyden said in response to questions from St. Helens Mayor Rick Scholl.

"We watch you guys as leaders and it's political posturing for about the last eight to 10 years, and it seems like we're getting nowhere. And bottom line is eventually we're all going to get tired of it and you're all going to get fired," Scholl said. "I'm non-affiliated, and I watch what goes on and it tears me up to see policy being set and then reversed, and then new policy being reset and reversed. That's not moving forward. So how do we come together as a nation?"

Scholl also called for term limits and greater restrictions on campaign donations.

"I also think special interest needs to get out of the way, because that's really who's running it ... You're not really in the driver's seat, I hate to say that," Scholl said.

Wyden has been in office since 1996 and previously served as a U.S. Representative for over a decade.

"The people who will be happiest, in my opinion, about term limits, a few years in, will be the bureaucracy, because the bureaucracy doesn't have any term limits and they'd love it if people were just shoveled in for a few years and shoveled out," Wyden said.

At the town hall, Wyden was asked about the forthcoming impeachment proceedings and said he wants "a just outcome and not a political outcome."

"I'm about to take another oath of office, and that is to be an impartial juror. So that's a lot of heavy lifting there," Wyden said. "What I'm going to do is I'm going to follow the evidence. I certainly have concerns that I want to raise."

Wyden is a member of the Senate budget, intelligence, and energy and natural resources committees and the ranking member of the finance committee.

Wyden also emphasized his long-standing push for paper ballots and noted legislation he's proposed to use Oregon's vote-by-mail system nationally.

"I don't think this is a partisan issue ... It's a lot harder to hack a hand-marked paper ballot," Wyden said. "I think as of now, hostile foreign powers and special interests are going to interfere in our election in 2020 in a way that will make what happened in 2016 look like small potatoes."

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.