By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Pierce promises prosperity and spice

Rockne Roll/News-Register##Bud Pierce talks with supporters at a campaign event  in Carlton on Sunday, Sept. 25.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##Bud Pierce talks with supporters at a campaign event in Carlton on Sunday, Sept. 25.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##Republican candidate for governor Bud Pierce speaks at a campaign event at Ken Wright Cellars in Carlton on Sunday, Sept. 25.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##Republican candidate for governor Bud Pierce speaks at a campaign event at Ken Wright Cellars in Carlton on Sunday, Sept. 25.

If they elect him, Republican governor candidate Bud Pierce promised his Yamhill County audience Sunday, Oregonians can expect better education, more job training, fewer homeless on the streets and more money in their pockets.

He also promised to find a way to solve the crisis of runaway Public Employee Retirement System costs.

“I’m running for governor to make society better and to make the hard decisions that have to made,” he said in an appearance at Ken Wright Cellars in Carlton.

“I’m not interested in being a governor who shakes hands and goes to dinners. That doesn’t interest me. I’d rather be a doctor. ... So if you elect me, it’s gonna be a little spicy.”

A Salem oncologist, he provided chemotherapy services in McMinnville for many years, starting in 1994, and then helped the Willamette Valley Medical Center design and build its own cancer center. That endeared him to the local hospital’s then CEO, Rosemari Davis, who joined Wright and News-Register Publisher Jeb Bladine in hosting his local appearance.

It was the first of the current campaign for any of the major party candidates for statewide office. They tend to concentrate on more populous counties, making local appearances uncommon.

Running as a moderate, Pierce has repudiated his own party’s presidential standard-bearer, Donald Trump.

He said he wants to “make the lives better of average Oregonians,” including dispensing with the current hostility in the national mood.

“One people, one humanity, one race, the human race,” he said. “We’ve got to get that through our heads.”

He believes the state needs a Republican governor in office for the first time in nearly three decades, if only to make Democrats more responsive to their own party base. “A representative democracy requires competitive elections,” he said.

He criticized not only the Democratic party, but also his own.

He said it can’t afford to shut people out, particularly in liberal-leaning Oregon. Republicans “need a bigger tent, so more people can join us,” he said.

Pierce said he wants to “cut the red tape in daily life” for not only business owners, but also teachers and other ordinary citizens.

He believes regulation serves an important purpose, but can become burdensome and over-complex. He said the state could replace tons of rules with simple principles, making businesses more inclined to cooperate voluntarily with regulators.

State legislators and administrative rulemakers should listen more to business people, he said. Meanwhile, teachers should be given more authority in the classroom, and public employees should be required to start contributing to their own pension funds.

He said having to be responsible for some of their own pension contribution may seem unfair, when compared to past practice in Oregon. But he said, “It’s not unfair compared to other states.”

Pierce blamed PERS problems on overly generous previous administrators. “The system is out of control because people in the past made promises we have to keep now, and the money wasn’t put away,” he said.

To solve the problem, he prescribes adding money from the state general fund in the short term. In the long run, he recommends making administrative rule changes to prevent people from finding ways to maximize the amount of retirement income they receive, and requiring all employees to contribute in the future.

He argued in favor of increasing the minimum wage somewhat, and making up some of the difference with lower income taxes and better child care credits. He advocated creating more homeless shelters and improving the availability of treatment for mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction, in combination with job training.

Pierce drew a range of people to listen to his comments, including a couple from Wisconsin, Sam and Lori Azarian, who were visiting Wright.

The Azarians are small business owners who said the economic downturn hit them hard. Supporters of Gov. Scott Walker and Congressman Paul Ryan back home, they said they’d like to see Oregon “have a change of heart a little bit, a move more to the middle or the right,” Lori said.

The couple enjoyed Pierce’s comments so much Sam jokingly asked him if he’d consider moving to Wisconsin.

Pierce quipped that he knows he belongs in Oregon because he’s “kind of quirky.” He said he fits because the state is filled with people who have a “blend of conflicted ideologies.”

Some of that was represented in the people supporting him, including Ron Herring of McMinnville, a registered Democrat.

“He’s very capable” Herring said. “It’s refreshing to have a pragmatic Republican, not a dogmatic Republican, and I encourage everyone to vote for him.”

David Collins of Sheridan is on the other end of the spectrum, but has also found grounds to support Pierce.

“I’m conservative,” he said. “I’m worried about my Constitution, national and statewide. Bud Pierce says what I like to hear.”

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