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Minor-party candidates make case to be governor

By JONATHAN J. COOPER
Of the Associated Press

EUGENE — Three minor party candidates for Oregon governor got a chance to make their case Saturday as they shared the stage with Gov. John Kitzhaber and state Rep. Dennis Richardson for a debate in Eugene.

It was the only debate to which they were invited, and they made the most of it.

The Democrat and Republican candidates stuck closely to their scripts, and it was their lesser-known rivals who produced the debate's most enlightening moments.

Constitution Party nominee Aaron Auer, a traveling preacher who says “we must return to our roots and the God of the Bible,” advocated an armed citizenry and suggested reassigning street workers to new duties.

“Let's put some of these workers in the cities for dispensaries of guns and ammunition to protect and defend ourselves,” Auer said. “I think that's a higher priority” than many of the topics brought up in the debate.

The debate, sponsored by the League of Oregon Cities, focused heavily on issues that affect local governments, and the candidates were given the questions ahead of time.

Pacific Green Party candidate Jason Levin advocated a single-payer health care system that would cover everyone in the state and suggested breaking up large school districts. He was a strong advocate for legalizing marijuana and said it would open the door for a commercial hemp industry.

“I believe that we're seeing a lot of the same old, same old from the supposedly only viable candidates, and I think it's time for a credible third party to be given a shot,” Levin said.

Chris Henry of the Progressive Party said he'd be a strong advocate for working people. A truck driver who said he's working toward a degree from Portland State University, Henry said repeatedly that he'd face a steep learning curve.

“I believe in unions,” he said. “I'm going to advocate for working people.”

Kitzhaber and Richardson aired some of their differences.

Richardson said the Legislature could improve funding for road projects without raising taxes by prioritizing transportation ahead of other construction projects. He called for a new highway linking Coos Bay with Ontario through Burns.

Kitzhaber said the gas tax should be increased as a short-term fix, and the state should work more with the private sector on infrastructure projects, which would likely involve adding tolls.

Kitzhaber offered enthusiastic support for an effort by the League of Cities to loosen two ballot measures from the 1990s that restrict growth in property taxes, which he called “one of the most serious issues facing local jurisdictions.”

Richardson was more cautious. “The key source of additional city revenue is from a growing economy and more employed citizens,” he said.

Kitzhaber and Richardson will next debate Oct. 10 at the City Club of Portland.

Comments

Anon

Constitution Party nominee Aaron Auer, under the Obama administration, we only dispense arms and ammunition to Mexican drug cartels and occasionally to the Islamic State.

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