Charlie Conrad and Michelle Emmons hope to represent House District 12, a new district that covers the northeast corner of Lane County. Springfield’s City Club sponsored a candidate debate in advance of the Nov. 8 election. Here are the opening and closing statements.
[00:00:18] Michelle Emmons (Democrat): My name is Michelle Emmons and I’m running for House District 12 in the Oregon legislature. I’ve been a Willamette Valley resident for over 47 years. I’m a full-time resident in Oakridge, Oregon, and I have been since 2019. And, in addition to my full-time career in nonprofit management, I’m a small business owner,
[00:00:35] I’m a mother of two and a grandmother of three. I’ve dedicated the last three decades of my life to community service, being on the ground and in the trenches. I have done this through grassroots advocacy, education, and volunteer stewardship. I define myself as a proactive, pro-choice, and tenacious woman.
[00:00:54] I have a strong sense of accountability and a strong commitment to integrity. I’m running because rural voices matter and for too long policies created with great intentions have had negative consequences for communities on the outside of urban centers. It’s time that we bridge the gap between our urban and rural communities.
[00:01:12] Decades of policies insensitive to a broad range of needs have left us without a unified voice, and it’s time for us to come together and claim our seat in Salem. As your next representative, I intend to help support strong local economies by bolstering resources for small and startup businesses, redefine regulations and incentives that address scale and impact of doing and staying in business,
[00:01:35] And I’ll also support stabilized funding for schools, expanding workforce development opportunities, and a thoughtful, layered approach to housing and homelessness. I’ll also support expanded access to healthcare that allows quality treatment for mental and physical well-being.
And lastly, I just want to say, we have critical decisions that we need to think about in terms of the future of our working and natural lands.
[00:01:57] Climate resiliency and sustainable land management policies will be a priority. Our rural and urban communities are actually woven together through a symbiotic ecosystem of economy, natural resources, and quality of life. And I look forward to working together with my constituents to address these issues as your new House District 12 representative.
[00:02:20] Charlie Conrad (Republican): For 23 years I’ve been a public employee and I’ve served 14 years as a police officer and the rest of that time in a number of other different positions. And what I’ve done during that time, is, serve the community. It’s to problem-solve and it’s really to focus my energies and efforts on bettering the lives of the people that I work with and work for.
[00:02:40] And that’s what I want to do at the state legislature. We have a lot of issues, a lot of contemporary issues to go through and work through as a state and as voters, from education to supporting businesses, to environmental concerns, specifically with how we’re going to manage our forests and how we’re going to mitigate the wildfires that we have.
[00:03:00] In addition, you know, there’s a lot of things that we can do to help work and improve the efficiency of our government overall. And that’s what my goal is. I want to be able to focus on that so that we’ve got an efficient government that actually serves the people and that the lives are better for it because of me being there and because of the work and the effort that the entire legislature puts forward in passing legislation, improving policy, and working with people and talking to people and understanding their needs and what can happen to improve their lives.
[00:03:26] So, thank you very much and I appreciate it.
[00:03:32] Michelle Emmons (Democrat): Thank you so much for having me here today. I hope that by participating in this forum today that folks have gotten to know me a little bit better and about who I am. I believe in the freedom of choice, and I believe that by taking responsibility for outcomes, we hold ourselves and each other more accountable.
[00:03:47] I believe in leading by example. I am on the ground and in the trenches with people every day making a difference for long-term natural resource management, thoughtful community development, collaborative partnerships in business and education, and taking care of our public investments. I believe in acknowledging differences by giving voice back to people who feel marginalized or diminished by majority culture, or having felt like they had no other choice but to give up their voices so that they had to choose a side in order to be heard.
[00:04:18] I pledge to be accessible and listen with an open mind. Even when I may disagree, I will not shy away from the difficult conversations, nor will I ignore the elephant in the room. I will help bring diverse perspectives to the table in an effort to craft more effective and equitable policies. I hope I can be the candidate that brings a spirit of collaboration and serve as a unifying agent in our constituency to strengthen access to information and tools that our constituents need to be engaged in crafting policies that better meet the needs of more people.
[00:04:48] I hope that during my time today, the connections between rural communities and our neighbors in urban areas have been made clear. It is now more important than ever for urban communities to understand the interdependence with unincorporated in smaller towns that are dependent upon our natural resources and working lands for their economies and quality of life, so that everyone can benefit with clean air and water, food security, and access to essential services.
[00:05:14] I hope that words like ‘on the ground’ and ‘in the trenches,’ ‘common sense’ or ‘sustainability’ are more than just sound bites that you heard from me today. Because when you make a decision to vote for me as your next representative, these are the qualities that will lead my work with you, my constituents, and other Oregonians for a stronger future and a better quality of life.
[00:05:37] Charlie Conrad (Republican): Thank you very much for having me here again. I really enjoyed this. I always enjoy talking to people and I enjoy the questions. I enjoy the tough questions that come about. And as the questions today exemplify, there are a lot of different areas that the legislature and legislators need to be involved in, all aspects of our life. And so much of that comes down to what a legislator’s going to do in office.
[00:06:02] And I come back to some of my qualifications of what I want to do, which is simply solve some problems. Look at what our community needs, talk to what people in the community want, and try to craft the society and craft the economy that provides them opportunities to improve their lives; provides opportunities for their children to go get a quality education and have a good quality of life.
[00:06:24] That’s what we do. That’s the purpose of the legislature. And as we go forward, so many different things particularly are important to this rural community itself has touched upon, the small cities that are in here, including sections of Eugene, but also wildfire and education and infrastructure, public safety. All those are massive undertakings and they’re complex, but some of those things can be integrated.
[00:06:46] As we go forward and we start looking about affordable housing, just touching and improving on that, we can help support our natural resources industry. We can help support our labor force, We can help support our unions. We can help support our education system, we can help support people earning wage, living jobs.
[00:06:59] All those things can be impacted if we make good quality decisions, if we have a focus and a plan and a purpose to go about improving people’s lives and going forward from there. And so much of that is leadership. And hopefully at the gubernatorial level, hopefully we get somebody that’s actually a qualified leader.
[00:07:15] But as a legislator, I plan on stepping forward and filling that void and filling that need and championing the rural community in the small cities here. And knowing full well that’ll be a champion for all the rural communities and small cities throughout the state.
[00:07:27] John Q: The brand-new District 12 replaces the old District 11, which was represented by Phil Barnhart and Marty Wilde. Districts change every 10 years to reflect the latest population as provided by the U.S. census.
[00:07:41] Ballots must be mailed by Nov. 8.