Oct. 27, 2018 — The race to represent Oregon House of Representatives District Nine is a contest between incumbent Democrat Caddy McKeown and Republican challenger Teri Grier.
McKeown has represented the district since 2012 and Grier has no prior experience as an elected official, working most recently as an instructor at Southwestern Oregon Community College.
The two candidates have provided the Siuslaw News with responses to questions to clarify their priorities if elected on Nov. 6, 2018.
Question 1: Why are you interested in serving as the representative for Oregon House District Nine?
Grier: I’m running because I don’t think our needs and issues have been well represented in Salem by our current representative. We need someone who will vote for our issues and sponsor legislation that our coastal communities need, not someone who is beholden to their party leadership or the interests of Portland.
McKeown: I’m seeking re-election as your state representative to make sure the South Coast gets our fair share of funding and support for our schools, our economy and our people. I’m committed to protecting and promoting the South Coast because this is my home and the home of my friends, neighbors and loved ones.
Question 2: What are the most significant challenges facing the House this term?
Grier: Special interests that prevent good work from getting done on the issue of PERS. Until we are able to come to the table and come up with a bipartisan and meaningful solution to PERS, we will not be able to financially solve any long-term issues facing Oregon. Legislators must remember that despite who funded their campaigns, they go to Salem to serve the needs of their constituents first.
McKeown: It’s imperative for the South Coast to be able to generate family wage jobs, fully fund our schools and take care of our veterans and seniors. I’ve dedicated a lifetime of community service to fighting for economic prosperity at every turn. That’s why I’ve fought for $100 million in investments in our port and transportation infrastructure; brought $850,000 to our local shellfish industry and insisted on investments in career and technical education and vocational training for our students.
Question 3: What issues are you most concerned with at this time?
Grier: We need a realistic approach to PERS. Without a responsible fiscal path on this issue, we will not be able to realistically tackle our other issues like our failing schools or the state of wards managed by DHS (Department of Human Services). These issues and more won’t be able to be solved for the long term unless we bring a realistic solution to PERS. The beneficiaries of PERS are also at risk and need to receive their just compensation; if we don’t act now, the system may become bankrupt and these people will receive nothing. That is unacceptable. With PERS comes the need for serious economic development in rural Oregon. We need to create opportunities for industries to return, so we can have family wage jobs back and grow our economy and communities.
McKeown: While our economy is growing in Oregon, that growth isn’t reaching everyone. Over the next four years, I will bring together Democrats and Republicans, urban and rural Oregonians, to tackle the state’s big problems and make sure every Oregonian has the opportunity to thrive.
First, we have to strengthen our schools. I have a plan to expand high-quality preschool in the next two years to an additional 10,000 low-income children, as well as reduce class sizes, require a 180-day school year and expand career and technical education.
For all Oregonians to thrive, we must also expand access to high-quality, affordable health care. I will fight to protect our Medicaid expansion and make sure that every Oregonian, no matter where they live, has access to the care they need.
Question 4: What are the major policy differences or priorities that separate you from your challenger?
Grier: I’d say the major policy differences are that I believe that Oregonians pay enough taxes and fees. I want my constituents to have more money in their pockets so that they can support their local economies, buy homes and be able to give their children opportunities. My opponent has regularly created taxes and fees, and supported regulations that have contributed to the poor state of our coastal communities. Cap and Trade is a major example of this, and my opponent is a staunch supporter of this. I stand with our local businesses though, and I know that burdensome regulation will only harm our communities. Oregon’s emissions footprint could be described as minimal at best and harming our businesses won’t help it.
McKeown: I think the most fundamental difference between my opponent and myself is that I’m from here. I was born and raised here and know the unique character of the South Coast; I understand, firsthand, the challenges we face, and I’ve spent my life producing real solutions for my home. I’ve done this by being a collaborator and a team player and I took that approach with me to Salem. I have earned a reputation by being a bi-partisan legislator who gets things done. In three terms in office, I’ve created the Office of Small Business Assistance and the Oregon Shellfish Initiative, increased staff and administrator standards in our long-term care and dementia facilities and passed an historic state-wide transportation package that will improve highway safety, lower emissions and put people to work.
Please share anything else you feel is important for our readers to know about your candidacy.
Grier: I moved to Oregon because I was suffering from a severe case of Valley Fever that nearly killed me. My doctor recommended that I find the cleanest air after my treatments so that my lungs would have a better chance to heal. Oregon quite literally saved my life. My decades of policy experience with rural economic development can be put to use to help and give back to the place that saved me. I want to serve because we deserve better, and I have the experience to do better.
McKeown: I’m running to be your state representative because the people here matter to me. I go to Salem every year to make sure that the South Coast has a strong voice at the table — someone who knows us and can represent our unique way of life. I was born and raised here. I know the struggles of the South Coast, and I also know our potential. It’s why I work so hard in Salem to bring family wage jobs and quality education to the south coast- because our people are our strongest asset.
Ballots for the Nov. 6 General Election have been mailed. Completed ballots can be mailed to Lane County Elections at 275 W 10th Ave., Eugene, OR 97401.
Voters may also drop off their ballots at one of many official drop box locations listed in the insert included with their ballot. Drop boxes are now open and will remain open until 8 p.m. on Election Day. Florence’s drop box is located at the Florence Police Department, 900 Greenwood St.