MEDFORD, Ore. — Oregon’s Democratic governor and her Republican opponent faced off in a debate that focused on issues important to the southern part of the state.
The Medford Mail Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/2dPuaDv ) that Gov. Kate Brown and GOP candidate Bud Pierce discussed the economy, timber issues, the Klamath River and armed guards in schools during a Thursday night debate at KOBI-TV.
KOBI owner Patsy Smullin asked if the candidates would commit to having an annual town hall in southern Oregon, similar to the town halls held by Democratic Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.
Pierce said he would hold a town hall and spend at least three months a year in rural parts of the state, while Brown said she’s visited the Rogue Valley a number of times but wouldn’t commit to an annual event.
This was the fourth of five debates the candidates are holding statewide.
Both candidates reiterated their positions on a number of issues, including Measure 97, the corporate tax opposed by Pierce, a doctor, and endorsed by Brown, who became governor after John Kitzhaber resigned in February 2015.
The KOBI panel asked the candidates questions specific to southern Oregon, including voters’ continued rejection of paying more taxes to increase law enforcement in Josephine County.
Pierce said people would be more willing to pay for government services if they had good jobs.
“We need to get the economy growing in Josephine County,” Pierce said.
Brown said she wants to boost the number of Oregon State Police troopers who would aid in handling calls in rural areas.
Regarding armed guards at Grants Pass schools, the candidates differed over the possibility of expanding such a program.
Brown said she couldn’t support the increased militarization of schools.
“It’s unacceptable for kindergartners going through lockdown drills,” she said.
Said Pierce: “If armed guards work for a period of time, then that’s what’s needed.”
The candidates agreed human trafficking along the Interstate 5 corridor is a problem and support removing four dams from along the Klamath River.
Both said they favor accepting Syrian refugees, though Brown was more enthusiastic.
“We are a land of immigrants,” Brown said. “We should welcome them.”
Pierce questioned the wisdom of the investment when Oregon has a homeless problem and other concerns. “My heart goes out to refugees,” he said. “It’s good to have a big heart, but your own family is important, too.”
Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/