By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

House candidates spar at forum

They did not address attack ads recently leveled at Noble by the Democratic Party of Oregon with Moore’s knowledge and approval.

Seven of eight audience questions focused on the ads, but moderator John Gray decided to avoid that issue unless one of the candidates raised it, and neither did. The former county legal counsel did incorporate audience questions not based on the ad campaign, which has now expanded from print to cable television.

The forum was sponsored by the three local media outlets — KLYC Radio, McMinnville Community Television and the News-Register. They provide livestreamed and video-recorded broadcast coverage, along with print coverage, but are not involved in developing questions for the event.

Moore told the audience Oregon’s initiative process and land use laws are “what make Oregon,” and said great care should be taken with any tampering. They do sometimes become overly complicated or difficult, but he said, “Democracy is messy.”

He said land use laws have “prevented California-type sprawl,” and said, “That is a good thing... Many of us are very protective of farmland.”

Noble said both processes are important, but they may need some adjustments to maintain “balance,” protecting farmland while still allowing for job-producing economic development and affordable housing for a growing population.

He said sometimes, the initiative process is “a symptom of a failed Legislature.” He said petitioners sometimes place issues on the ballot out of exasperation, because the Legislature has failed to address them.

On the flip side, he said, the Legislature sometimes passes hasty,  poorly-thought-out bills in order to avoid a threatened or perceived initiative. “That is wrong,” he said.

Noble said he is not in favor of legalized marijuana, although he said it does have some clear medical benefits, and it’s not likely that legalization is going to be rescinded. However, both he and Moore expressed reservations about issues such as increased driving under the influence and children’s access.

Both candidates felt personal opposition to the death penalty, when asked about a moratorium begun by Gov. John Kitzhaber and continued by Gov. Kate Brown. That might seem surprising for a career law enforcement officer, but Noble said, “I respect the sanctity of life.”

Both candidates were put on the spot, being asked to list the best and worst characteristics of their parties’ respective presidential candidates.

Moore termed Clinton “the most experienced candidate we’ve ever had,” but called the furor over destroyed e-mails a downside.

He also lamented Clinton’s lack of personal warmth. “I wish she was more personable,” he said.

Noble said the best thing about Trump is that, like Bernie Sanders, “He represents people who are tired of the system, who are absolutely tired of business the way it has been done.”

However, “He does it very poorly,” Noble said. “He doesn’t represent my values.”

He said the type of divisiveness Trump represents, in fact, is part of what is compelling him to run for office — what leads him to believe more Republicans are needed in the Oregon Legislature.

“It’s time for a change,” Noble said. “Time to balance it out, time to listen to other people’s ideas, time to force more equal representation in the House and Senate. We need a variety of ideas and values expressed and we need to listen to each other.”