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Democrats bring varied goals, backgrounds to House race.

Byline: David Steves The Register-Guard

For the two Democrats running for east Lane County's House seat, an election win would play vastly different parts on their resumes of public service.

For Shirley Cairns, entering the Legislature would be something of a capstone on a career of service on community boards, advisory panels and volunteer work. For Greg Thorne, a House seat would be one of the first steps in what he's mapped out as a political career that would include leading the state House and Senate before serving as governor, congressman, U.S. senator and, finally, president of the United States.

Whichever of the two candidates wins the May 18 primary in House District 7, he or she will face the challenge of unseating an appointed incumbent, Rep. Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg. He faces no challenges from Republicans in his party's primary.

House District 7 combines east Lane County with northern and eastern Douglas County. Republicans comprise 42 percent of its registered voters, compared with a 36 percent Democratic registration.

Cairns has been involved with community groups for more than 20 years in Douglas County, and hopes voters will take that into account as they size up their choices.

"I'm emphasizing my background and experience because I have a broad-based, longtime involvement in issues from economic development to education to natural resources," she said.

Cairns made her first run for elected office in 2002, when she lost a bid for Douglas County commissioner. Last year, she unsuccessfully sought appointment to a state Senate seat vacated by the resignation of Sen. Tony Corcoran, D-Cottage Grove.

Cairns said she ran for House District 7 because she remains concerned there's too much divisiveness at the legislative level.

"I think it's time to start to work together and to move forward and solve some of the problems facing Oregon," she said.

Cairns said after spending the past several weeks preparing clients' tax returns, she is concerned that Oregon's income tax code unfairly offers credits, exemptions and other breaks for more well-to-do households than it does for those who are barely getting by.

Cairns said she would push to revamp the income tax system by requiring everybody above a certain income threshold, such as $5,000, to pay at least 1 percent in taxes, even if they qualify for exemptions and deductions that would otherwise drop their taxes below that level. She also would make the tax fairer to lower-income people by imposing more brackets than the current three.

Cairns said she has has not decided if she'd want to make the new tax code "revenue neutral" - generating the same amount for the state as it currently does - or work it out to produce more money for education, human services, public safety and other programs.

Cairns said she'd use a seat in the Legislature to create incentives for job growth in rural areas, such as small manufacturing plants and attracting new industries.

Thorne said that while he's charted out a career path that would have him reach the White House by 2020, he doesn't consider election to the Legislature this year to be the first step.

"It's a second step, actually. Being a commissioner in Blue River (Water District) was the first," he said.

Although electoral politics are new for Thorne, he said running for public office fits in with what he's tried to do his whole life.

"I really consider helping people my life's purpose," he said. "I think of myself more as a public servant than as an author of time-management software."

Thorne said he would concentrate on budget issues if elected to the House. He said the key would be cutting income tax, which would put more money into the economy to create more jobs, which would lead to more state income tax revenue.

He also would seek to reduce spending by encouraging public employees to use fewer medical services, which would result in lower health insurance costs for taxpayers to bear.

Thorne also would seek to reduce state spending by pushing for a reconsideration of the tough-on-crime sanctions voters enacted when they passed Measure 11 in 1994.

He said he did not consider many of those incarcerated under the mandatory sentencing law to be threats to society, and believes returning to judges the latitude to influence sentence length would save the state money.


Name: Shirley Cairns

Age: 66

Family: Three grown children, four grandchildren

Occupational background: Financial planning, tax consultant, livestock raising, public school teacher, bookkeeping/ administrative assistant.

Public service experience: Umpqua Community College Board; Sutherlin School District Vocational Advisory Committee; Sutherlin, Roseburg and Douglas County chambers of commerce; Douglas Electric Cooperative Board secretary; Douglas County Tourism Development Committee; Regional Strategies Committee; Oregon Ports Advisory Committee; Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Board and Government Affairs Committee; Umpqua Community Action Network Board; Bureau of Land Management Resource Advisory Committee; BLM Umpqua Region Advisory Committee; Sutherlin Rotary Club; Family Community Leadership volunteer; Leadership America.

Latest book read: "Probably one of the mystery books for relaxation after dealing with technical issues."

Accomplishment you're most proud of: "I would say my family. As a single parent (I became a widow when my two youngest children were 7 and 14) I like to think that I raised caring, concerned adults. Because my son was a single parent I was very involved with my oldest grandchildren and like to think I have had a positive influence on their lives. It was a high compliment when my oldest granddaughter said she looked to me as her `role model.' '

Name: Greg Thorne

Age: 44

Family: Single

Occupational background: President, 1Soft Corporation; radio personality; software engineer; author of software program "Above & Beyond."

Public service experience: Blue River Water District commissioner; consultant, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART); firefighter, Blue River Volunteer Fire Service; McKenzie Education Foundation; FOOD for Lane County; American Red Cross Disaster Relief volunteer; Sheriff's Office Lane County Neighborhood Watch; United Nations World Food Programme; earthquake relief worker, Bhuj, India; Amazon Defense executive director; McKenzie schools volunteer; Blue River Library; Latter-day Saints volunteer; McKenzie River Clinic fund-raising volunteer; Oregon Adopt-a-Highway; Cottage Grove Family Relief Nursery; Sept. 11 Ground Zero volunteer.

Latest book read: "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror," by Richard Clarke

Accomplishment you're most proud of: Starting a small rural Oregon business from modest savings that grew to 10 employees.


Name: Bruce Hanna

Age: 43

Family: Married, three children ages 23, 19, 10.

Occupational background: President and CEO, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Roseburg; owner with wife, Teresa, of Automatic Vending Service; previously founder of Siskiyou Beverages Inc.; sales manager, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Roseburg; builder and owner of Pleasant Hill Dairy Queen.

Public service experience: Member and past president of Roseburg Executive Association and Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce; board member, Advantage Dental; board member, C. Giles Hunt Foundation; board president, Community Cancer Center; past president of Oregon Soft Drink Association.

Latest book read: "They Shall See God" by Athol Dickson.

Accomplishment you're most proud of: I am most proud of the company that I have helped build into a customer-oriented, community-focused company and the course that I charted to get here; I went to work right out of high school at the company that I now own.
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Title Annotation:Politics
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 26, 2004
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