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Kruse sees the light.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Former state Rep. Jeff Kruse resigned his legislative position Thursday, 125 days after he forfeited the right to represent House District 7 by moving out of the district. Kruse deserves credit for doing the right thing - after months of acting as though the Oregon Constitution's residency requirement could safely be ignored, he decided that the state's bedrock law means something after all.

Voters amended the Constitution by approving Measure 22 in 1995, partly to address cases in which carpetbaggers had moved into legislative districts in hopes of winning appointments to fill vacancies. The amendment specifies a one-year residency requirement for legislative candidates. Kruse evidently understands this aspect of the law. He moved on Oct. 31 to establish residency in Senate District 1 in time to run for an open seat.

The amendment also requires legislators to live within the districts they represent. Kruse took this provision less seriously, claiming that it was vague. The language in the Constitution, however, is clear enough - and the explanation in the 1995 Voters' Pamphlet is clearer yet: Measure 22 "requires state senators and representatives to live in the district they represent during their term of office. If they fail to maintain inhabitancy, they will be subject to expulsion from the Legislature."

Without the residency requirement, senators and representatives could live in Salem, Sunriver or Costa Rica. The degree of understanding and the quality of representation provided by legislators who live among their constituents would be lost. Oregonians want to be represented by legislators who shop in the same stores, drive the same streets and pay the same local taxes as they do. Oregonians place such a high value on having their legislators live among them that they approved Measure 22 by a ratio of 16 to 1.

County commissioners in Lane and Douglas counties will now fill the vacancy in District 7, choosing from a list of candidates forwarded by Republican precinct committeemen and -women. Compliance with the Constitution and the voters' will has been restored.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Editorials; District 7 will have a resident legislator
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 5, 2004
Words:335
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