By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

District 24 candidates pledge bipartisanship

District 24 House candidates Ron Noble and Ken Moore took turns answering questions before the McMinnville City Club on Tuesday, followed by a short appearance by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bud Pierce.

Republican Ron Noble and Democrat Ken Moore both said they want to restore a spirit of bipartisanship to the state Legislature. They are competing for the seat of former Rep. Jim Wiedner, a Republican stepping down after four terms.

Noble is a former McMinnville police chief now working as head of security at Linfield College. He served as a lieutenant with the Corvallis police before taking the top job in McMinnville, and served as chief spokesman and press contact throughout the nationally prominent Brooke Wilberger murder investigation. He has headed the state police chiefs association, which engages the Legislature on a regular basis.

Moore is a contractor and handyman currently serving as a city planning commissioner in his hometown of Yamhill. While working as an electrical engineer at Intel, he built his own home. He has also farmed, an experience he credited with giving him some valuable insights.

Moore told the audience his top three priorities, if elected, will be “excellent education, efficient transportation and affordable housing.”

Noble said his priorities would be protecting taxpayer dollars and reducing government waste. “I understand what it takes to make tough decisions, do what’s right for people and make the right budget decisions,” he said.

Moore said his priorities in education would be strengthening career and vocational classes and improving early childhood education, with a focus on preparing children to read.

Noble said the Legislature has been shortsighted. For example, he said, “We’re telling people what the minimum wage will be in six years, without knowing what the economy will be in six years.”

Moore said the state needs a “robust economy,” and to achieve that it needs, among other things, to restore vocational and technical education to a place of more prominence.

He said it might follow the example of Meggitt Polymer Solutions in McMinnville, which purchased a shop and donated equipment to Yamhill-Carlton High School, then took responsibility for training a shop teacher in welding, to ensure the high school could provide high quality training to potential future employees. “That needs to be replicated across the state,” Moore said.

Noble criticized Measure 97, a proposed corporate tax on gross revenue from sales, as “the worst idea I’ve heard in my adult life.” He said corporations would simply pass along the costs to their customers, sending the impact rippling through the economy.

“Anytime I’ve had a budget problem, it was really a spending problem,” he said, suggesting the state needs to simply cut back.

Moore supports 97, which would give the Legislature an estimated $6 billion per biennium more to spend.

He said Oregon has “record class sizes,” “one of the shortest school years in the country,” a very low high school graduation rate, a massive shortfall in health care and “one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the nation.” And those elements are not unrelated, he told the audience.

“Whether you like 97 or not ... this shouldn’t keep coming down to families” to pay for the state’s needs. “Whether 97 passes or not, if I am your legislator, I will be working to address the budget shortfall,” he vowed.

Asked how to fix the state’s public employees’ retirement system’s chronic shortfall, Noble said the state needs “to keep our contract, like it or not,” and make the promised payments to current employees and retirees. But eventually, he said, the state needs to “get out of the retirement business,” and instead offer a 401(k) or similar retirement plan.

Moore said a bipartisan committee has several proposals in place now to address the problem. In addition, he said, the state should “give the Oregon Investment Council the tools it needs” to make adjustments in retirement investments.

Asked about carbon cap and trade proposals, Noble termed that “one of those areas where we are spending money and not getting a return on investment.” He said reducing forest fires would do more to reduce carbon output than the proposal approved by the 2015 Legislature.

Moore said individuals and businesses should be taxed on their carbon output. “We would find a way to reduce it if it cost us money,” he said.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bud Pierce told the audience the state party needs to be more inclusive. “If we don’t get that tent a lot bigger, we don’t have a future in politics in the state of Oregon,” he said.

He told the audience many people of color are “some of the most fiscally and socially conservative people — natural Republicans,” and should be courted as such.

Pierce said Oregon needs to balance environmental and business needs, and to develops a better transportation policy.

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