District 14: Farr.
The race in House District 14 pits a veteran Eugene city councilor with an extensive resume against a promising newcomer who has been an effective activist in the Bethel School District.
Given the state's precarious financial outlook and the potential for this year's legislative meltdown carrying over to the next session, we recommend that district voters opt for the most experienced candidate and the one best equipped to hit the ground with legislative legs churning. That candidate is Pat Farr.
Farr, a Republican, is running against Democrat Araminta Hawkins in a district that covers northwest Eugene, including the Bethel area, Junction City and outlying areas north to the Linn County line and west to Fern Ridge Lake.
Employed as a retail manager for a local nursery, Farr is a two-term council member who also served on the Bethel School Board in the mid-1990s. He has also served on the city's Human Rights Commission, Housing Policy Board, Human Services Commission, Intergovernmental Relations Committee and Budget Committee, among others.
Such experience would prove invaluable in Salem. Governmental budgeting, the intricate relations between state and local governments, the challenges facing local schools - these are all areas that Farr understands.
Farr is regarded by many as the most conservative, pro-business member of the Eugene City Council, which means he'd probably fit in somewhere left of center on the statewide spectrum of GOP lawmakers. While he has alienated many liberals with his unflinching support for the West Eugene Parkway, Farr has often supported proposals, such as the living wage ordinance or the domestic registry, that would be an anathema to most conservative state lawmakers. One can only hope Farr's flexibility and compassionate openness on social issues would prove contagious in Salem.
Farr has also shown he can let the seam out on fiscal issues, particularly when they relate to schools. For example, he is supporting the proposed income tax surcharge on the Jan. 28 ballot and backs Measure 20-67, which would use city of Eugene property taxes to support programs in the Eugene and Bethel school districts.
Hawkins is a solid candidate who has shown her political savvy by coordinating volunteers in successful school funding campaigns that have enabled the Bethel district to build new schools, expand existing facilities and keep pace with a growing student population. A clinical and support services manager for PeaceHealth, she is waging an aggressive door-to-door campaign that should help neutralize the decided edge in name recognition that Farr enjoyed at the campaign's outset.
While Farr has gone out on a Republican limb by supporting the proposed income tax surcharge, Hawkins says she's undecided on the measure. While she may be hoping to avoid a backlash from voters who oppose new taxes, her failure to support the measure is a disappointment.
If Hawkins has an edge over Farr, it's in the area of health care where her experience in the industry would make her well suited to deal with the troubled Oregon Health Plan. She is a strong supporter of senior home care and Oregon Project Independence, which provides in-home care to the elderly. She also supports efforts to expand health coverage for the working poor, and opposes efforts to scale back the health plan.
Hawkins is a strong candidate who we hope will seek elective local or state office in the future. But Farr is the most experienced candidate. District 14 voters should elect Pat Farr.