2020 General Election: Fires, economics big issues for state Senate Seat 9 candidates

Fred Girod, 69

Political Party: Republican
Home/Years in District 9: Lyons/nearly all his life. His home in the Santiam Canyon was destroyed in the wildfires.
Education: Harvard University (master of public administration); Oregon Health Sciences Uni-versity (doctor of medical dentis-try); Oregon State University (bachelor of science.
Professional Background/Work Experience: State senator, Small business owner, Property development and management. Retired dentist.
Political Experience/Affiliations: Oregon State Senate (2008 – present); Oregon House of Representatives (1992, 2006); Stayton City Council.
Other Community Involvement/Affiliations (outside of activities/experience already listed): Not listed.
Family: Wife Lori.
Contact: (503) 986-1706

Jim Hinsvark, 66

Political Party: Democrat/Pacific Green
Home/Years in District 9: Woodburn/Nearly all his life.
Education: Woodburn High School (1972), Chemeketa Community College (1976, A.S. police science); Portland State University (2004, B.A. geography).
Profes-sional Back-ground/Work Experience: Construction, police cadet, organic farming, special education assistant in Port-land Public Schools (2005-06).
Political Experience/Affiliations: None.
Other Community Involvement/Affiliations (outside of activities/experience already listed): Tilth Certification Committee (1980s), Wasabi Paddling Club board member (Portland), dragon boat racer at international crew championship events throughout the world (Malaysia, Taiwan, Prague). Coaches visually impaired dragon boat team based in Portland.
Family: Family moved to farm outside Woodburn in 1962, right after the Columbus Day Storm. Parents grew berries and worked off the farm to make ends meet. Father was a baker and after closing the bakery in Mt. Angel he worked at Maclaren Youth Facility and Oregon State Hospital. Mother worked at BirdsEye in Woodburn during the harvest seasons.
Jim Hinsvark took over farm in 1984 and is handing it over to his youngest son.
Contact: (503) 634-2417

Patrick Marnell
Political Party: Libertarian
Marnell informed us that he is not actively campaigning. He did not respond to our questionnaire.

The Questions

Describe your view of the proper role of government under the U.S. and Oregon constitutions and how you, as a state representative, would carry out your responsibilities as a legislator.

Fred Girod: As you can imagine, I believe in limited government. Let the people and freedoms prevail.

Jim Hinsvark: I believe the main goal of government is to protect and preserve the rights and lives of Oregonians. The constitutions were written at a time when corporations were limited. Now corporations have grown into huge entities.
I believe one of the government roles is to protect the rights and lives of Oregonians against corporate interests when they conflict with the peoples interests. As individuals, it is difficult to stand against the money and power that corporations possess and that is what our government can do for us.

COVID-19 has obviously become the elephant in the room in Oregon politics. What do you think of the state’s response thus far and what courses of action do you propose as the pandemic continues? Also, do you think the legislature has had a proper role in managing COVID? If not, what would you propose?

Jim Hinsvark: COVID-19 has been something we have never seen in our lifetimes. The response to it has made it very hard for the people in our district. The lockdowns have been very hard on our people and our businesses.
So little was known about COVID-19, the response of the state was strong, as it should have been.We now know that masks are the best response and we can use that knowledge to reopen responsibly.
Rural areas have been less affected by COVID-19 and it would be appropriate to allow an easing of restrictions with the understanding that total shutdown is appropriate when, and if, cases spike. This is a dangerous disease.
The legislature has been borderline dysfunctional with the walk-outs. The legislature should have made the Employment Division get the money out to the folks who need and deserve it. And then, after the people are taken care of, the Employment Division can sort out the claims.

Fred Girod: First of all, the legislature has almost totally been left out of the process. I don’t agree with the response from Gov. Brown. I think it has been abysmal, at best.
The No. 1 thing right now that we need is to get children back in their classrooms.
In all honesty, I believe you need to protect the aging population, of which I’m a member now, and have health restrictions. I think that’s extremely important.
But to put those restrictions on everyone is wrong. If you look at what the governor of South Dakota has done, I support what she has done.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Oregon in the area of budget/state finances and what solutions would you propose to address those?

Fred Girod: I have quite a bit to do with that because I sit on on the Ways and Means Committee. We try to make government cost- efficient.
My major job is to try so slow down growth of government so education and other essential services can get prioritized. If you look at how fast we’re expanding government, as numbers go, there will probably be an economic downturn in the next biennium but right now we don’t have enough money. No matter how much we get we are able to spend it, usually for things that cause us to spend more money down the road as well.

Jim Hinsvark: The near future will be very difficult.
Closed businesses don’t provide jobs or taxes to fund what needs to be funded. We will need more budget cuts to get through this time.
There are some large businesses that are making a lot of money right now. Amazon is one that comes to mind. Amazon is in the process of taking over the marketplace, while our local business are shut down.
Companies like Amazon will make it extremely difficult for local stores to reopen when that time arrives. In the short term, companies like Amazon should be taxed at a rate that reflects their good fortunes in this COVID-19 time, especially considering their reliance on the USPS.
There is no need for Jeff Bezos to amass an even greater fortune when our small businesses are fighting to survive.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Oregon in the area of education and what solutions would you propose to address those?

Jim Hinsvark: Our graduates need useful skills. I believe we need to get vocational training back into our high schools, getting students hands-on training in real jobs. Jobs that pay a decent wage are a way to build a better Oregon.
We can divert some of the money going to higher education and fund vocational training at high schools. We need skilled workers as much as we need people with four-year degrees.

Fred Girod: I think we need to reopen for in-person instruction. Now if you don’t reopen, then there need s to be funding for parents to help with the transition. Right now, all the money’s going to schools and parents are the ones have to pick up the tabs.
We need to lift the 3 percent restrictions on virtual education. So many people are wanting it, we’ve already hit the cap. We need to raise that number up dramatically. It’s hurting the kids, that’s what bothers me the most.
Our state educational system is ranked, I think, 47th or 48th in the country. They’re making it worse.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Oregon in the area of transportation and what solutions would you propose to address those?

Fred Girod: This is a little trickier. People are switching to electric vehicles.
Trying to come up with a model for funding is probably the biggest challenge. We might have to change from a gas tax to vehicle registration or miles driven. Otherwise, people paying the gas tax will have to pay an exhorbitant rate.

Jim Hinsvark: Rural roads are degrading as money is siphoned away to populated areas.
We are in this together and need to make sure our roads work for everyone. I would work to make sure that our district gets a reasonable share of highway funds to maintain our roads.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Oregon in the area of environmental protection or lack thereof and what solutions would you propose to address those?

Jim Hinsvark: The recent walkouts have stopped our response to climate change.
There were compromises reached between the last two legislative sessions, which led to the burden of the work being shared by urban and rural Oregon. That progress was stopped by the walk-out.
This is a huge issue and the legislature should not make the farmers and nurseries bear an unacceptable portion of the changes that need to be made.
Our district sees the cloud of pollution that emanates from the large cities. The urban people need to make changes of their own.
I would work to raise the fuel taxes in the metropolitan areas to help them curb their emissions and use that money to fund the good-paying, rural-energy jobs we deserve.

Fred Girod: The biggest problem we have right now that we need to be concerned about right now is water pollution from runoff from the building damaged in the fires.
We need to expedite the cleanup process by cutting red tape of government and by cleaning up ash and debris so it doesn’t leach into the water.

Democratic leaders in the Legislature and Gov. Kate Brown have made it clear (particularly before COVID) that they have a lot of concerns: Housing insecurity and homelessness, clean energy legislation, funding for education, regulation of firearms, etc. Which of these issues, or any others, do you consider pressing and how do you respond to it/them?

Fred Girod: Democratic leaders have a socialistic agenda, which I usually opposed, but I have consistently supported more funding for education.

Jim Hinsvark: I would like funding for vocational training to be put back in our schools. The practical, usable experience our students would bring to our communities out of high school would benefit us all.
I would work for good paying energy jobs, focused in rural areas to get people less dependent on utilities.
I would start a self-supporting fund that allows local business to build solar arrays for local families. The families would then pay back the installation costs by redirecting their previous utility payments. It would be funded by higher fuel taxes paid in the metropolitan areas.
The result would be good jobs, a more resilient power grid and people producing their own electricity.

Transparency has been an issue in Oregon, particularly with the recent resignation of Oregon Public Records Advocate Ginger McCall. How important do you think transparency is for citizens and for you, if you were to be elected to the legislature?

Jim Hinsvark: Trust is built on transparency. People want to be able to trust their government and the only way to get that trust is to let them see what is really going on in government.
It is extremely important and I would have my staff make sure all information that I deal with is easily available to those who want it. We are doing the people’s business and they deserve to know what is happening.

Fred Girod: I think good government is based on transparency. We have a govenror who hates it. A free democracy thrives with tranparency. With our current governor, there’s little hope of improvement.

In addition to the areas above, what are the biggest issues you see facing rural Oregon and, particularly, the residents of the 9th District?

Fred Girod: Right now, rebuilding – both structures lost in fire, including entire communities like Gates and Detroit, and rebuilding the economy of Oregon.

Jim Hinsvark: Oregon needs to value rural workers. I live it and I understand how hard it is to get decent prices for our products.
Locally grown foods deserve a place at local tables. We can do this through the local stores or by making it easier to sell locally with less restrictions on getting our products to the customer.
Getting broadband into all of our district’s homes and schools will make it easier for us to sell our products locally. Broadband throughout the district will allow better communications for our students and working families.

There are three candidates on the ballot for this seat in the General Election. What most sets you apart from the others? Why should voters choose you?

Jim Hinsvark: Most of us just want to be left alone by the government. I understand that and will bring your voice to Salem.
Growing up on a farm built into me the values I will carry to Salem. The values of hard work, love of family and friends will strengthen my voice as I speak to the Senate as a non-conformist.
The Senate has never understood how the bills they pass have an effect on us. We all have to live by the laws the legislature passes.
I will make sure all of our voices are heard. We are a major part of the success of Oregon and deserve the respect of all Oregonians.

Fred Girod: My voting record and commitment to my district speaks for itself.