Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sen Kate Brown and John Kroger Visit Baker City

State Sen Kate Brown - candidate for SoS and John Kroger - candidate for Atty Gen visited Baker City, OR Saturday afternoon meeting with interested citizens at Mad Matilda's owned by City Councilor Andrew Bryant. County Commission Chair Fred Warner and County Commission candidate Randy Joseph were in attendance. Kroger and Brown are center rear of picture, Warner far left foreground, Joseph next left. Several additional tables, not pictured also held attendees. This was retail politics at its finest, an intimate environment and politicians being held to account.

These are two committed individuals, the roles they seek to fill are not particularly public - when operating in good order - but are essential to the good of the citizenry. The first feature that is notable about the candidates is their energy level, this was a second stop of the day from 90 miles of mountainous driving, they were very pleasant and engaging from the outset. The second feature that strikes you is that while engaging in plain speaking these two are not ordinary intellects, they have thought deeply about what the can do in the roles they seek. Some questions were quite probing and coming from an opposition position.

John Kroger started off with what he feels is the center piece of his program for the OR Dept of Justice, addressing the meth problem. This comes from a position of something other than the "crime fighter crusader" garb so many adopt. Oregon's supply primarily comes from large scale dealers out of Mexico which brings associated crimes with it and needs to be addressed aggressively. Then there are the addicts, the vast majority of property crimes and child abuse crimes are tied to meth addiction and yet the current approaches do not seem to be having an effect. John believes that first time offenders should be convicted and sentenced to a treatment regime, simply warehousing them by jailing them or more commonly engaging in 'catch and release' is counter productive. Measures 57 and 61 address property crimes, he endorses the legislative referred 57 versus the Mannix 61 which is essentially prison oriented. The last Mannix crime initiative approved by voters has sucked the air out of the Oregon budgetary process without real long term successes. Kroger also understands that counties are going to hit very rough financial patch with the loss of Federal payment in lieu of taxes and that the State Police are going to have to help fill in local gaps. John was a Federal Prosecutor so he has a background in law enforcement and large organizations. John is in the enviable position of having won both Parties' primaries, the Republican with a write-in.

Kate Brown is a charming wisp of a lady, with steel for nerve and a keen wit. Her district is far from NE OR and more than one attendee was quite willing to broach the issue of urban/rural divide with her. Kate has made previous visits to Baker City, unrelated to her district electoral politics, and is far from ignorant of the area. In fact, she proposes that if elected to follow Sen Wyden's practice of holding town hall meetings in all the counties. Her primary interest in the office of Secretary of State is the State auditing function of the office. Her belief is that with the short bi-annual sessions the Legislature does not have the time or resources to make sure that the State Offices are following the law and the spirit of the law and providing good return for the taxpayer expenditures. She is also committed to raising voter participation, Oregon is high in turnout, but not first and should be with our vote by mail. Another real concern of hers is that the voter initiative process be free of fraud, which it demonstrably is not.

In a readable format I cannot do more than briefly synopsize a three hour conversation and do it any sort of justice. If you have such an opportunity, please take advantage of it - you will be rewarded. Andrew Bryant and Chuck Butcher received the official thanks of the candidates and both of us certainly thank them for coming and I add my thanks to Andrew for helping out to such an extent.

I provide for your information and opportunity to contribute, their websites:
John Kroger For Attorney General
Kate Brown For Secretary of State
I really encourage you to get acquainted with these candidates and help out their campaign finances. Both candidate are deserving of support and campaigning isn't cheap. Whether or not they seem like shoo-ins, their efforts to get acquainted with Oregon and present themselves to the citizens should be supported. Your humble host doesn't have much, but I kicked in a bit.

Oregon's Democrats have certainly been blessed with a surfeit of great candidates this year, how cool is that?

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