Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



The race for House District 37, which covers West Linn and Tualatin, pits incumbent Julie Parrish - a republican seeking her fifth term - against Democrat and political newcomer Rachel Prusak. As the two candidates race toward the campaign finish line Nov. 6, the Tidings asked them to share their thoughts on the current state of the district - and what lies ahead.

Julie ParrishRachel Prusak

TIDINGS: Traffic is on the minds of many West Linn residents. What can you do in the Legislature to help with that?

PRUSAK: It's obvious to anyone driving the streets of West Linn that we have traffic congestion that gets worse every day and inadequate public transportation. We need a representative who will invest in our infrastructure. We need regional transportation solutions and we must invest in sidewalks, bike paths and crosswalks. I will listen to communities and work with ODOT to make sure they know what people in the communities are saying about the projects. I want to hear about all the potential solutions on the table so we can actually get moving.

PARRISH: As your state representative, transit solutions I support are ones which will build additional freeway lanes and focus on enhanced Bus Rapid Transit over expensive fixed rail lines. We also need better cross-suburban transit, not just hub-and-spoke routes to Portland. Regional growth will add tens of thousands of new citizens in the metro area every year so the time to build freeway lane infrastructure is now. The difficult thing for West Linn residents — nearly 70 percent of Clackamas workers commute out of the county for work. Better road infrastructure means less use of West Linn as a cut-through to other cities.

TIDINGS: What's the biggest challenge facing HD 37 in the next four years?

PARRISH: Meeting senior needs is the biggest challenge on the horizon. Senior residents are living longer. Retirement incomes aren't appreciating as quickly as property taxes are rising. A proposal by Democratic House Speaker Tina Kotek for 2019 seeks to increase property taxes, which I strongly oppose. Encouraging seniors to downsize is the wrong solution. When a senior's home asset becomes liquid, adult care costs swallow their equity. We need a senior property tax freeze, so retirement incomes can keep up with inflation, and seniors can age in place. We must prioritize wrap-around services like affordable senior transit lifts, and community-supported care.

PRUSAK: Challenges facing HD 37 are issues of public health and safety. Every person in Oregon should have equal access to comprehensive, equitable, affordable, high-quality healthcare that includes access to reproductive, mental and addiction care. Another aspect of public safety is transportation and infrastructure. Transportation impacts how we commute to work, school and health clinics. I have firsthand experience caring for vulnerable communities who can't access health clinics because they have been pushed into areas that lack public transportation. Public transportation increases access to essential community resources helping build healthy communities.

TIDINGS: What is your stance on freeway tolling and its possible impacts to West Linn?

PRUSAK: The intersection of I-5 and I-205 is in the heart of House District 37; this includes Abernethy Bridge, a major bottleneck of statewide concern. A toll there could mean the residents of HD 37 will bear the burden of these statewide problems and that is not acceptable. We need to use our existing assets more wisely. Carpool lanes and public transportation can be expanded to give Oregonians choices. I will pay very close attention to ODOT's planning process and ask tough questions about all of the alternatives. I pledge to work with my colleagues to find solutions.

PARRISH: Nearly 80 percent of Metro-area residents oppose road tolls and I stand with them. As such, I've put forward a ballot initiative to give voters the right to vote on tolling existing freeway infrastructure. I have never seen once where ODOT can give us a predictive estimate of what drivers would be charged for tolls. Dynamic congestion pricing, changing tolls in real time, will dramatically raise driving costs for West Linn voters. If tolls supposedly relieve freeway congestion, prepare for traffic to sneeze out on our side roads and into our neighborhoods as people use traffic apps to find toll-free routes.

TIDINGS: How do you feel about the efforts of many Stafford area residents to keep their neighborhoods rural?

PARRISH: I'm solidly opposed to Metro's development goals of 20 units per acre in Stafford. While there is no doubt at some point Stafford will be developed, it needs to be balanced and thoughtfully planned. There are over 2,000 households in the three rural HD 37 precincts. A majority are living rural lives for the quality of life with amenities of close-in town access for work and school. That option should be preserved. Any development must also consider infrastructure needs like roads, water and sewer, and work to find compromises with land owners who would like to develop their property.

PRUSAK: It is crucial we include the Stafford area residents when discussing issues that affect or impact their neighborhoods. The Stafford Hamlet was established to advise on issues and concerns of the residents and I will trust and respect that. Additionally, I will honor the Stafford Compromise and fight to help the Stafford community protect what makes it unique. When it comes to urbanization of Stafford the residents are the ones who would be impacted, and they should have a voice on whether or not it is right for their community.

TIDINGS:. West Linn has a long-term vision of revitalizing its former industrial waterfront. How can you help with that in the Legislature?

PRUSAK: I plan to reach out to fellow legislators to advocate for sufficient funds to repair and open the Willamette Falls Locks. Getting the Locks repaired and open for commercial and recreational purposes is key to revitalizing the historic waterfront area on both sides of the river. Furthermore, having the Locks re-opened and functioning is an important part of our emergency preparedness in the event of an earthquake. Traffic engineering studies will be needed in order to best plan how to realize this project without adding congestion and safety issues in these areas.

PARRISH: We're already helping! As your state representative, I passed legislation and now serve on the Willamette Falls Locks Commission. The Legislature made investments for Oregon City's river walk. Now the Commission is seeking bonding authority to take the Locks from the Army Corps of Engineers. We'll create a governance form for the Locks in next session, most likely a public corporation modeled like Oregon Health Sciences University. Subsequently, we'll seek a matched investment like Oregon City received so West Linn can execute a vision that brings both sides of the river together in a vibrant, tourism destination for the region.

TIDINGS: What changes are necessary to stabilize Oregon's fiscal health year to year?

PARRISH: Oregon has to control costs. With record revenues, my legislative colleagues overspent, then came back to taxpayers to raise more money. Healthcare sales taxes, disconnecting Oregon's small businesses from the federal tax code and a massive transportation package account for billions in new taxes, yet Speaker Kotek is proposing new tax increases for 2019. Why? Because over 50 percent of the growth of the education budget was swallowed by PERS; the Medicaid program is in a shamble, and Oregon pays the highest per-employee healthcare costs in the Western region. Without cost control, the next recession will be an unprecedented financial disaster.

PRUSAK: Oregon has the lowest corporate tax rates in the nation, because of this the state services that provide good schools and support systems are underfunded. This is not a simple problem and will not have a simple solution but we must have the conversation. As a nurse I'm accustomed to having hard conversations, often about life and death. I will be involved in the tough discussions and debates about our tax system and fight for adequate and fair revenue reform so we can invest in the things that make a difference in the lives of all Oregonians

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