2020 General Election: Three candidates aim for House of Representatives seat

Jami Cate, 33

Political Party: Republican
Home/Years in District 17: Lebanon/33.
Education: Oregon State University (B.S. In crop and soil science, minor in agriculture business, graduated summa cum laude).
Professional Background/Work Experience: Life-long grass seed farmer; Seed cleaning warehouse owner.
Political Experience/Affiliations: None.
Other Community Involvement/Affiliations (outside of activities/experience already listed): 15-plus years with Lebanon Strawberry Festival, including serving as board chair, association treasurer; Secretary, Lebanon Museum Foundation; Treasurer/Secretary, Oregon Tall Fescue Commission; Secretary, Lebanon Community Foundation.
Family: Parents Jim and Ginger Cate; Siblings Jered and Chelsea Cate; niece Stella; and goddaughter Vale.
Contact: (541)-207-1451 or [email protected].

Timothy Dehne, 68

Political Party: Pacific Green
Home/Years in District 17: Scio since January 2019. Previously in Corvallis (1980-2018).
Education: Attended several colleges and universities, Linn-Benton Community College (2003, AA degree in water and wastewater technology).
Professional Background/Work Experience: Worked at Albany Wastewater Plant, water quality lab at wastewater plant in Corvallis; Owned home/yard services firm.
Political Experience/Affiliations: Elected director of Benton County Soil and Water District (2005-08), Pacific Green Party state Coordinating Committee member.
Other Community Involvement/Affiliations (outside of activities/experience already listed): Oddfellows Lodge in Corvallis, Scio, district grand master Scio, Stayton, Mill City; Willamette, Corvallis, Lacomb Grange member; NAACP member; Veterans for Peace; Freinds of Family Farmers.
Contact: (503) 394-4653.

Paige Hook, 34

Political Party: Democrat/Working Families
Home/Years in District 17: Stayton/about 20; born and raised in the Willamette Valley.Three children – 3, 5 and 7.
Education: Scio High School; Chemeketa Community College; Western Oregon University (concentration in criminal justice, minor in psychology, magna cum laude).
Professional Background/Work Experience: Office manager, Oregon Legislature; Administrative supervisor, Legislative Administration; Health policy and operations coordinator, Oregon Health Authority; Executive assistant, Oregon Health Authority; Administrative assistant, Surgery Center; Physical therapy aide in physical therapy clinic; Grocery worker; Pizza delivery driver; Patient service specialist, healthcare clinic; Volunteer crime analyst, Police Department, Farm work, local farms.
Political Experience/Affiliations: Stayton City Council member; Stayton Planning Commissioner; Budget Committee vice chair; Precinct Committee person; Work in executive and legislative branches of state government.
Other Community Involvement/Affiliations (outside of activities/experience already listed): Paul Harris Fellow Rotarian, Council Liaison for Economic Development and Housing, Scio Lamb & Wool Fair Princess Court Coordinator, Children’s ministry at local church.
Family: Family history stretches back over 100 years in House District 17. Great-great-great-grandfather, John Shimanek, homesteaded not far from the red bridge that bears family name. Hook’s mother worked as a registered nurse and father was a paramedic and fire chief in the Oregon Fire Service. Many relatives – sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles – are Oregon public school teachers. “I come from a family of farmers and union workers, all of whom taught me the meaning of a hard-earned dollar.
Contact: (971) 328-0928 (call or text), [email protected].

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.

Jami Cate: I believe our government is designed to maintain order and safety, so our rights granted under the Constitution are preserved. As a state representative, I will serve as the voice of our district on state government matters, and fight to preserve our rights.
I fully believe that Gov. Brown has overstepped her constitutional authority – from COVID to line item veto of non-budget items in the special session – and fully intend to do everything in my power to hold her accountable and pass legislation to avoid this degree of abuse of power in the future.

Timothy Dehne: Government should represent the people, not special interests and corporations, or political parties. I would strive to work with all (emphasis) the citizens of District 17.

Paige Hook: The preamble of the U.S. Constitution is very clear in the role of a government official, which is to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
I believe my role as an elected legislator is to uphold the Oregon and U.S. Constitutions, including its important amendments like our first and second amendments, which we hold dear as Americans and Oregonians.
I will carry out my duties of elected office of proposing new policy and amending current law through bringing the voices of those that live and work in our district forward to address local needs of our unique communities, in a strategic way by getting our district a seat at the decision-making table of the party in power, which is something our district has not had in many years. This has been to our area’s detriment.
As your legislator I will bring experience in local and state government, and my fearless and strong voice to the democratic caucus room before bills are drafted to fight hard with other rural representatives in order to get us the consideration we deserve that affect our livelihoods.

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?

Paige Hook: First, I want to recognize that regardless of your party or position held, no government official has faced a challenge quite like COVID-19 so there is no guidance on this issue.
I believe most people are good people, and they do the best they can with the tools they have, but the response to COVID-19 has not been consistent, equitable, or always well thought out.
I believe one of the many mistakes that were made from a legislative perspective was the lack of public input on legislation drafted and put forward in the special sessions.
Public input on issues is vital and it is something I have seen our legislature fail at even outside of this current pandemic.
We need to elect leaders that value the perspectives of their constituents, regardless of whether they personally agree with them.

Jami Cate: The legislature was pretty well shut out of the COVID response, as the governor chose to take the route of emergency declarations and unilaterally decide what was in the best interest of our state.
The legislature should have to ratify her declaration every 14 days to make sure that such a declaration, and the decisions made under it, are still keeping to a real emergency rather than an attempt to gain power or further a political agenda.
We may have to live with COVID restrictions for years to come, so we need to focus more on opening safely and have a hard look at if the “cure” has been worse than the disease.

Timothy Dehne: I’m not enthusiastic about the state’s response thus far. I would say, No. 1, increase the amount of testing. No. 2, allow businesses to function as they see best. More overall education is highly important. I initially wasn’t too on-board with the whole pandemic thing, although I did some research on the 1918 pandemic. People back then actually formed anti-masking leagues. We’re not getting that far out. I think everybody should at least accept that COVID is a deadly disease.
In September, my 77-year-old cousin in Florida died. Her obituary listed her cause of death as COVID-19.
I think everyone should take more seriously than they have been, particularly young people – college students especially.

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?

Timothy Dehne: In a way, I need to be in the legislature to answer that fully. Finding the money is the biggest challenge, to cover all the services offered by state government. Follow the money – where’s it coming from, where’s it going?
I’m suggesting that however we pay for it, we need to have healthcare for all of Oregon. I believe that healthcare for all of Oregon will result in small businesses having growth, more people starting their own businesses.
Personally, I’m in favor of a higher minimum wage, but also a maximum wage.

Paige Hook: COVID-19 has caused major impacts to our state budget, and clearly the biggest challenges we face are continuing the funding necessary to keep our state agencies and economy functioning effectively through the duration of the pandemic and through the long road ahead that we face for economic recovery.
Just like hundreds of thousands of households that have found themselves battling our fractured unemployment system and have had to learn to adjust their own lifestyles to make ends meet, we, too, will need to address how we spend our taxpayer dollars going forward.
This will mean many extra hours of dissecting what we spend and why, and whether during COVID-19 we need to be putting the same amount of money towards each line item in our budget.

Jami Cate: For my district, wildfires destroyed many of our communities. We need to act swiftly to help people rebuild – cutting red tape so we can move fast and without the extra financial burden of additional hoops to jump through. We cannot afford for our communities to suffer like they did during Gov. Brown’s handling of the debacle with the unemployment department. We need to prioritize our spending like never before, and stand strong against more crippling taxes on our already suffering citizens.

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

Jami Cate: The first priority has to be getting students back in school full-time and safely. Until then, we are continuing to fail our students and place undue burden on struggling families.
Once that is accomplished, I believe we need to promote more options within education rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. We should be equipping students for the job market that will be available to them, and that means expanding programs like career and technical education. We also need to prioritize education in the budget so it’s handled early in the session – not leveraged at the end for political theater.

Timothy Dehne: The biggest challenge I see is class size – we need to reduce class sizes, which means funding for more teachers. Civics needs to be required course in high school and high-schoolers should have access to watershed stewardship training and should be able to graduate with certification in watershed stewardship.
There should be increased individual fiscal training and morning tai chi for all students, all grades.
In high school I had five foreign languages I could study, at Washington Lee High School in Arlington, Va. I studied Russian. I could take math all the way to physics.
At this point, Spanish and Chinese are languages we should be asking our kids to learn. Whether we like it or not, we’re going to be dealing with China and being able to communicate with a foreign person is important.

Paige Hook: The biggest challenge facing public education and educators at this moment is COVID-19, with huge questions looming of what opening schools will look like for students, parents, and school staff as we find new unprecedented ways to start safely reopening schools.
The balance between public and school staff safety and the need to provide a high-quality education to Oregon youth is a difficult one to reach, and to be able to fully express my stance on the issue I need to continue to listen to the recommendations of public health experts and listen to the concerns of parents, students and school staff alike. What we are doing right now is not working effectively.
Additionally, when schools reopen even with the virus still a threat to our communities, working families will be forced to choose between sending their sick children to school in order to put food on the table, or stay home and have the threat of job loss that can affect their housing security. This is not a good option for anyone, including school employees.
Major focus should be in low -income families, communities of color, and rural communities that are often overlooked and experience a lack of funding and support across the board.

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

Paige Hook: It is way past time for Oregon to fund adequate public transportation for rural communities. Funding for rural public transportation, like funding for education and healthcare, is simply a matter of political will. I want to be clear that raising the costs of vehicle-related fees and taxes is not an equitable or sustainable solution.
For many low-income communities, such as rural communities, communities of color, and immigrant communities, vehicles are the only reliable source of transportation available, and will continue to be even as public transportation is introduced.
In rural areas especially, vehicles are required to access healthcare, groceries, and sometimes even legal documents due to insufficient access to broadband internet and other technologies.
Therefore, I believe that the responsibility lies in the state to ensure that everyone, including our own district, has equitable, affordable, and safe transportation.
I would support this through advocating and voting for increased funding for robust public transportation in rural and hard-to-reach communities, because it often takes money and the existence of privilege to afford to live so close to affordable sources of food, jobs, and healthcare.

Jami Cate: Our highway system has become worn down and inadequate for our growing population. Too many of our bridges need to be replaced, yet funds haven’t been allocated to do so. The governor is pushing a decision to remove dams on the Snake River, which will add even more congestion and inefficiencies getting grain to market. We need to stop the trend of unworkable and ineffective “solutions” that seem to do little more than waste a lot of taxpayer dollars trying to keep Portland politicians happy, and take a hard look at the overall system and its pinch-points to keep freight moving.

Timothy Dehne: I would like to see Oregon increase rail transportation and Linn County Commissioners seem to be helping with that. We need to decrease the need for semi truck transportation.
I believe Oregon is dealing with deterioriating bridges. The question is whether we are dealing with it fast enough. But part of that problem is heavy truck traffic.
I would just like to see focus on rail transportation over trucks.

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?

Timothy Dehne: I see a big problem in environmental protection in that 53 percent of state is owned by the federal government. I personally would be in favor of reducing federal ownership of Oregon and returning to state control, and accelerating Native American input into these issues.

Paige Hook: Attempting to prevent any and all wildfires as many forest management agencies in the United States tend to do, is both an unrealistic goal, and runs counter to the natural progression of forests, because fires are a key part of the life cycles of many species of tree and other plants.
I would support further investing in and use of controlled burns, to minimize the risk of out of control fires and maintain forest health and biodiversity.
In addition, I support increasing funding and personnel for rural fire services so as to enable rural areas to better fight forest fires and protect their own communities, providing good paying jobs in the process.
I believe there is incredible value in consulting voices in the small-business sector of the timber industry, especially those who have been working with the federal and state governments already regarding land use and timber regulations.

Jami Cate: Wildfires can’t burn without fuel, and to avoid more catastrophic fires we have to reduce fuel loads in our forest without releasing the sequestered carbon. We need to have a forest management plan that promotes fuel reduction, especially through sustainable harvesting, to have any meaningful movement in the protection of our communities and environment from wildfires.
We now have a lot of environmental concerns during the cleanup from these wildfires, especially to maintain the quality of our water source for some of our major urban areas.

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?

Jami Cate: I disagree with Gov. Brown on most issues. I strongly oppose tax schemes like Cap and Trade, and eroding our Constitutional rights – especially the 2nd Amendment. I can’t imagine my opponent Paige Hook could say the same, with her strong support of Gov. Brown and an “F” rating from the NRA.
Affordable housing and homelessness are genuine concerns, especially in our district, but cannot be solved by imposing new taxes and just “throwing” money at the problem. We need creative solutions, and collaboration between city, land developers, builders and non-profit organizations to build areas of our communities that meet affordability goals.

Timothy Dehne: I consider the BLM to be the Bureau of Land Mismanagement. I think we have a history of suppressing fires, not understanding fires. Fires were critical in Oregon before the whites came.
We’re not dealing with the noxious weed problem, which is highly flammable source. When I was with Soil and Water, I was suggesting we have a weed board, which we do, but it is not active enough. It’s that scrub growth in forest that accelerates fires, causing it to to up in the canopy. We don’t need Himalayan blackberries, Scotch broom, which is highly flammable, and gorse along the coast. That’s a jobs program right there.
Housing insecurity and homelessness: We’d better address it right away. It can only get worse and as it gets worse, it exacerbates itself. Let’s stop talking about homelessness and start building homes. If you offer people a 10 x 20 place to live with an address, we’re going to have a better world. Also, it would cut down crime. People who live some place don’t want police knocking on their door.
Clean energy legislation would make it possible for people to put in their own clean energy. It’s a growing thing but I think more can be done. Let people decide and we should give people the ability to improve their own situation using clean energy, wind and solar, hydro power. We don’t need big dams, we need smaller hydro power projects like the water wheels they used to use.

Paige Hook: I believe all of these issues are important to discuss in the legislature but need to be done in a pragmatic way that includes a lot more input and consideration of how they will affect our rural communities.
Considering the standstill that this topic has created in the legislature, I think the most pressing issue to address to prevent another walk-out is climate legislation.
The fact is that rural Oregonians have felt as though their concerns are not being heard regarding potential negative effects of the Clean Energy Jobs Bill on their families and communities, which, I will say, I feel do have a very logical foundation.
I will work to bring in voices from rural Oregon, low-income communities, and other impacted groups in the state and in House District 17 so this legislation is ensured to be as equitable and sustainable as possible without ignoring the severe impacts it has on the aforementioned communities.
I am running for office to make sure that rural Oregon has a place at the decision-making table in the legislature and to advocate for what the communities in House District 17 need.

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?

Paige Hook: Transparency is vital in a democratic system of government, as voters must know what officials are doing with their hard-earned tax-payer money to be able to make a properly informed decision when casting their ballots.
I would expect all people in House District 17 to stay engaged and hold me accountable, and I believe part of my job is to keep our district informed of what is happening in the legislature and how and why I vote on bills. Oregonians win when they know their tax money is being distributed fairly and frugally.
I will support and advocate for more public-oversight and accountability of our elected officials and state agencies across the board, and I will hold both Democrats and Republicans accountable in our state capitol.

Jami Cate: I could not agree more. Transparency is important if the legislature is to be considered honest, upfront and trusted. We have to hold truly public hearings, and not hide on Zoom calls and behind backroom deals. We cannot continue to bar access of the people to their (emphasis) legislature, or push bills through without the ability to perform due diligence. The government works for the people, not the other way around.

Timothy Dehne: I don’t see the legislature being entirely transparent. We need to have the legislature really think about the issue of special sessions, which I think have really been abused by the Democratic legislature.
Transparency, to me, is telling the truth. I think citizens ought to demand transparency.
I consider Cap and Trade a lack of transparency. Cap, but not trade, because trade allows corporations to continue polluting.

In addition to the areas above, what are the biggest issues you see facing rural Oregon and, particularly, the residents of the 17th District?

Timothy Dehne: Grassroots democracy, to me, is typified by TimberUnity. I was there with them. They were fighting a good cause there, opposing Cap and Trade.
The biggest issue, though, is always going to be water. Do you have enough water, potable water? Septic systems are failing all over. We have to pay attention to maintaining systems. I think the situation’s changing. I think we have less dependency on forests. I think clear cutting is entirely wrong for the forests.
At the same time I think rural Oregon has chance to become powerhouse if we grow industrial hemp for food and fiber. We’re growing marijuana now, but we really need to grow industrial hemp for food, fiber and fuel. I believe rural Oregon can take better care of forests, the environment, than the federal government.

Paige Hook: Affordable Housing – Republicans and Democrats both have failed to foster an adequate and equitable housing market on the West Coast. The zoning and rent stabilization bills from the last long legislative session addressed some issues, but left out key voices and perspectives and much more must be done to liberalize land use and zoning laws to make building keep up with population growth once again and invest public funds in affordable housing so the poorest are not left on the street. This affects the whole state. Rural Oregon rent is 16% higher, and home prices 30% higher than rural areas in other states, and that’s unacceptable.
Quality Education – Outside of the COVID-19 pandemic creating challenges, we are still waiting to hear about the financial decisions that will be made regarding the Student Success Act passed in the 2019 legislative session.
Full funding of the Student Success Act would address challenges we have faced in funding public education for decades.
Rural Broadband Access – Lack of access to technologies and the internet hurts people. Though for 20 years the world has had access to broadband and wireless internet connection, some areas in House District 17 are broadband deserts.
Lack of access to internet service can negatively impact job searches, students’ ability to do homework especially while we are navigating the challenges of distance-learning, individuals’ ability to access online resources and information, and so much more.

Jami Cate: Economic development. Our communities must be given the tools to attract, retain and grow our economic base. This is vital to keeping the upcoming generations in our communities, and having the resources nee
ded to maintain vibrant towns. The more we can create economic diversity as well as community-based living wage jobs, the stronger our communities will be. Even prior to COVID, the need to increase broadband access in our rural communities was great, and will improve the ability to work from home and pursue new work opportunities.

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

Jami Cate: I live and work in this district, and always have. I am a fifth-generation farmer from right here in Lebanon, and have dedicated thousands of hours to volunteering in my community. I believe the connections I have, as well as the ones I’m committed to building, are instrumental in being a worthwhile representative of our communities, businesses, organizations, and families. I have always had a heart to do the hard work necessary to make my immediate world a better place, and that’s what I want to do for you in Salem. I will fight for you every day.

Timothy Dehne: Quite truthfully, I’m going to be more accountable to citizens of District 17 than either of the others.
They are going to be about maintaining the power of their political parties. I’ve watched it in action.
The Green Party does stand for four concepts: grassroots democracy, ecological wisdom, social justice and non-violence. I want us to see what one person can do to bring democracy to oregon.
I’m not only asking for people’s vote. I’m asking them to keep an eye on me and keep me accountable when I’m in the legislature.
I’m like a time out. Let’s take a time out, let’s quit this back-and-forth bickering, let’s come up with solutions.

Paige Hook: I am running for office because communities in this state like the small communities in House District 17 have been left in the dust for too long.
I am the only candidate running with the knowledge and experience in our State Capitol to immediately get to work without having to spend time trying to figure out how to navigate the complex environment in the State Capitol.
I am the only candidate that has built working relationships with legislators and staff throughout the building that can help our district navigate the important issues we will continue to face as we continue navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic and the recovery involved due to the impacts it has had across all areas of our lives and the recovery efforts and support much of our district will need after the tragic wildfires we just experienced.
As state representative, I will represent. I will amplify voices regardless of voter registration status or background and erase party lines to bring local solutions for our local problems as opposed to solutions that only work for urban areas.

Note: Paige Hook has offered more in-depth answers, which can be seen under the heading at the top, at lebanonlocalnews.com.