By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Swartzendruber seeking to oust Boquist

Sen. Brian Boquist
Sen. Brian Boquist
Ross Schwartzendruber
Ross Schwartzendruber

These days, the Republican state senator from District 12 battles the minutiae of legislation with the reputation as one of Salem’s more intense policy wonks. And while he still positions himself as a hard-line conservative, he has not backed down from fights with fellow Republicans.

He is facing opposition in his bid for a third term in the Oregon Senate by Ross Swartzendruber. The rural Polk County resident ran for state representative in House District 23 in 2012, losing to Republican Jim Thompson in the general election.

Boquist entered politics by running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley in 2000 and 2002, falling short each time. Hooley weathered two more Republican challengers, Jim Zupanic and Mike Erickson, before retiring from Congress in 2009, and the seat has remained in Democratic hands ever since.

Boquist then lowered his sights and took aim at the Legislature.

When State Rep. Lane Shetterly, R-Dallas, left to head the Oregon Land and Conservation and Development Commission in 2004, Jim Thompson was chosen by Republicans to fill his unexpired term in House District 23. But Thompson’s bid to win election to the seat was derailed by Boquist, who prevailed first in a five-way GOP primary and then in the general election.

He was re-elected to the House in 2006. He was elected to the Senate in 2008 and re-elected in 2012.

Boquist filed a complaint about fellow Republican Mike Nearman, now holding the District 23 House seat, with the Oregon Ethics Commission in 2014.

The commission found Nearman had violated Oregon election law by providing incomplete information about his household’s employers on his “Statement of Economic Interest.” He avoided sanctions by filing an amended statement.

Boquist serves as the vice chair of the Senate Interim Committee On Finance and Revenue and Senate Interim Committee On Veterans and Emergency Preparedness. He serves as vice co-chair of the Joint Interim Committee On Transportation Preservation and Modernization.

He’s also sits on the Joint Committee On Legislative Counsel, Senate Interim Committee On Rules and Executive Appointments, Joint Interim Task Force On Campaign Finance Reform, Joint Interim Task Force On Reserve Funds and Joint Interim Committee On Legislative Policy and Research.

On most issues, Boquist maintains a right-of-center Republican voting record. But he has maintained good working relations across the aisle throughout his service.

“I’m an independent-minded constitutional Republican who believes public safety ought to come first, protecting our children is the key to our future, supporting Oregon small businesses leads to public prosperity, defending private property rights is like defending our borders, respecting seniors for their experience and less government will result in the attainment of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Boquist said in the Voters Pamphlet.

Swartzendruber works on the family sheep ranch in rural Polk County. A fifth-generation Oregonian, he’s a descendant from Iowans who moved to an Amish colony near Whiteson in Yamhill County.

His campaign literature stresses reconsidering standardized testing in schools. He removed his three children from annual testing and online learning management systems. He also opposes widespread data mining and surveillance.

According to his campaign literature, standardized testing was one of the major reasons he chose to run for the State Senate.

He works with the Salem Creative Network to help area nonprofits work together. A 1988 graduate of Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in biology, he’s also the founder and executive director of Salem’s Cherry Music Festival and the owner of Black Sheep Advertising Inc.

“Scandal-plagued politicians, unscrupulous speculators and corporate buccaneers are once again trying to usher in another Gilded Age,” he said in the Voters Pamphlet.

“Technological innovation, immigration and intense partisan politics create the same conditions of inequality facing Oregonians more than 100 years ago,” he said. “The very few prosper at the expense of the many taxpayers. After decades of abuse, the Progressive Era and New Deal ended the Gilded Age and returned more power to the people.”