Longtime Republican State Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli, John Day, faces a challenge from Democrat W. Mark Stringer for Oregon Senate District 30 in the November election.
State Sen. Ted Ferrioli
Ted Ferrioli is up for his sixth term as state senator for Senate District 30, and this time, he has an opponent.
Despite being consistently elected since 1996 and becoming the ranking Republican in the Senate, he said he always campaigns seriously.
“If you’re not running like you’re 10 points behind, people assume you don’t care,” Ferrioli said.
One issue he is concerned with is the current management of national forests in Oregon. He points to the increased wildfires and loss of timber production as symptoms of an unsustainable relationship where the people of Eastern Oregon aren’t always considered to be a factor.
“The question that’s not getting an affirmative is do these communities have a right to be sustained,” Ferrioli said.
He asserts the “move or starve” model of thinking doesn’t work for everyone, that some people don’t want to live in the city and shouldn’t be forced to by economic pressure.
Part of his frustration wells from the fact decision makers on local issues are sometimes as far away as Washington, D.C. He would like to see the decision process localized.
“I don’t think the state could do worse than the feds in land management,” Ferrioli said.
He said allowing the state to manage federal forests would be an interesting experiment, where the state would have to comply with the same laws as federal agencies currently do. He said with local management, coupled with a more aggressive timber harvest, the health of the forests and the economy might improve. However, he said trying to force the transfer of land through actions such as occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was not the best course of action.
Time and distance factors are familiar foes to those living in Eastern Oregon, and Ferrioli has an elegant proposal for conquering these factors and attracting new business to rural communities: air travel.
He said the introduction of regular commercial flights would simplify travel and has the potential to attract industry to the area.
“You’ve got a good workforce here and low cost energy, and you’ve got a lifestyle that’s incomparable,” Ferrioli said. “Those are great attributes, and I think they could be attractive, but the time and distance factor has to be conquered.”
Ferrioli admitted commercial flights would have to be subsidized, until they caught on, but the results could open up new options for rural areas.
Ferrioli said Oregonians have better options than the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which requires ethanol to be imported from other states and mixed with Oregonians’ gas resulting in poorer miles per gallon, and he would like to see it removed or modified. Ferrioli advocates changes in technology being used — like converting public buses to natural gas instead of diesel — to achieve carbon reduction, instead of mandating a change in fuel. He said passing a transportation package is important and thinks that gas taxes will be key in passing it.
Another item on his to-do list is reforming the Public Employee Retirement System. He proposed capping PERS payments for future employees to alleviate the burden.
The senator is strongly opposed to Measure 97, which would impose a 2.5-percent tax on corporate gross sales that exceed $25 million, with some of that money intended to benefit public schools.
Ferrioli said there are better ways to lower truancy rates and raise graduation rates than dumping money into the school system. He pointed to the career and technical education program at Baker City High School, which provides students with college-level courses that can help them get jobs and apprenticeships as certified nursing assistants, electricians and carpenters right out of high school. He cited the relevancy of the program’s courses for the 97-percent attendance rate and nearly 100-percent graduation rate.
Ferrioli described the Democratic-led Legislature as a “soliloquy” and wished they had to deal with the minority Republican party more.
“I’d love to see a regime change here,” Ferrioli said.
As the minority party leader, he said he was hopeful Republicans would pick up two more state Senate seats this election.
If elected, Ferrioli said he will work toward welcoming the next million Oregonians into the state.
“This is an incredible place to live,” Ferrioli said. “This is the end of the Oregon Trail. Every dreamer in the United States of America who can get footloose is headed west.”
W. Mark Stringer
W. Mark Stringer, the Democrat underdog running against incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Ferrioli for Oregon Senate District 30, has been traveling the state in a whirlwind of appearances in preparation for the November election.
Stringer worked as school teacher for nearly three decades, has been a rancher and is a former mayor of Nyssa. He grew up in Eastern Oregon and promises to represent the interests of the people. He said he is all for small business and industry and against over-regulatory government.
Stringer, if elected, plans to address issues like election financing and term limits, among others.
“We’re meant to be a citizen legislature,” Stringer said.
He wants to cap election spending, stating current levels take the opportunity of elected office out of the hands of the people.
He has quite literally put his money where his mouth is and accepted no contributions from businesses, unions, the Oregon Education Association or the Democratic Party, he said.
“I am beholden to no one,” he said.
Regarding term limits, he points to Ferrioli as an example of a problem not having limits can cause. Though Stringer describes him as “very congenial and a nice fellow,” he also said, “If I didn’t know he was such a great guy, I would think that he is what one might call a professional politician.”
Stringer asserts Ferrioli has become too comfortable in Salem and said it’s time for a more dynamic voice to be heard. He said the Democratic Party almost welcomes Ferrioli, and they figure he’s a relatively safe known quantity.
Stringer describes himself as a Jeffersonian thinker more than a Hamiltonian and said he is radical but also a fiscal conservative.
He is against Measure 97 and reform of the state’s Public Employees Retirement System, stating that the economy is cyclical in nature and is currently on the upswing. He said, with the right investments, PERS can get a return on those investments.
“The mistakes have been made, and the courts have decided that we have to fulfill promises (to those who have paid into PERS),” Stringer said.
Stringer has received some recent bad press after being arrested in Nyssa on a warrant for failing to appear in court, according to the Argus Observer. Stringer describes the arrest as a miscommunication following a violation of a restraining order stemming from a divorce case. Stringer says he was arrested over a miscommunication about completion of community service hours. Stringer claims that he had in fact completed them and shrugged off the incident.
“Bad press is better than none at all,” he said.