A candidate stumped for election in Marion County on Wednesday afternoon, and talked about religion, his military service and recruiting businesses to the state.
It was nothing too unusual except the candidate was a Democrat, and he was speaking to the DemoForum of Marion County about his plans to run for a seat that has been held by a Republican for more than a decade.
Paul Evans is running unopposed in the May Democratic primary for the District 20 House seat being vacated by Rep. Vicki Berger. Four Republicans, Karl B. Erickson; Kathy B. Goss; James Owens; and Terrence Taylor are vying to face him in November.
Evans believes a Democrat can now win the seat for a number of reasons, including Berger's socially moderate history. She was first elected to serve the district, which includes West Salem, portions of downtown, South Salem, Monmouth and Independence, in 2002, and has long been an advocate for creating economic incentives to bring businesses to the state as well as for improving public education.
Evans' speech to a packed house indicates he shares some of the departing representative's pro-business philosophies.
"I don't like helping to build Asian economies at the expense of our own," Evans said. I will fight for Oregonians and Oregon companies."
He also said he wants to stop GMOs (genetically modified organisms) if he can because he believes it's in the state's best interest to protect its agriculture industry and help big and small farmers here; not giant out-of-state companies such as Monsanto.
The Salem native and Monmouth resident who was first elected to the Monmouth City Council when he was 18 and later served as its mayor, believes there are definite "reds" and "blues" in the district, but "there are many more shades of purple," he said, referring to voters who are not as polarized as pundits believe.
"The reality is that for the first time in more than a decade, the district is incumbentless," Evans said. "And I believe there is a growing schism between the have mores and the used-to-haves."
Some of the areas Evans said deserve more notice include education and veterans' affairs.
A graduate of Western Oregon State College in 1992, Evans said he enlisted in the United States Air Force and spent more than four years on active duty with the 728th Air Control Squadron. He served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as well.
He said he has taught at Western Oregon University and Oregon State University, and currently teaches at Chemeketa Community College. He volunteered as a senior firefighter with Polk County Fire District No. 1, and has championed veteran affairs, serving as chairman of the former Gov. Ted Kulongoski's Task Force on Veterans' Services.
The deadline to register to vote or change party affiliation for the primary election is April 29. The primary election is May 20.