County commission, Legislature hopefuls square off Saturday, Sept. 23

There are fewer than 50 days left until the Nov. 7 general election - which candidates have your vote?

Not sure yet? All of the county commission and state Legislature hopefuls will be in one place Saturday, Sept. 23, to discuss platform issues and drum up support.

For the first time in a decade, the Boring-Damascus Grange will host a candidates' forum - the only one in the Sandy area this season - from 7 to about 9 p.m. at 27861 S.E. Grange St. in Boring.

County Commissioner Larry Sowa and his challengers, Lynn Peterson and David Dodds, will explain their plans for the county. State Sen. Rick Metsger and challenger Carol York will discuss the challenges to state issues (and their solutions to them), as will Republican state Representatives Patti Smith (District 52), Linda Flores (District 51) and their Democratic challengers, Suzanne VanOrman and Ryan Olds respectively.

Boring-Damascus Grange President Ed Luttrell said the candidates will be given several minutes to introduce themselves and outline their campaign platforms, followed by questions from grange members, community leaders and the audience.

'Each one should take about 10 to 15 minutes,' Luttrell said, 'but the key is we're hoping that none of them are extremely longwinded.'

Before talk of education reform, taxes, land-use laws and healthcare are on locals' lips, barbecue will be on their lips. The grange will host a community dinner at 6 p.m.

So why would the grange host such an event? Isn't it a farming organization?

'The grange has a long history of legislative affairs,' Luttrell said, noting that it is now made up of many members whose careers are outside the agriculture industry. Although the organization is nonpartisan - and as such, won't endorse candidates - it has taken a stand on key bills and ballot initiatives for decades.

As a statewide organization, the grange has passed many resolutions supporting various issues, such as the ballot initiative/referendum process and a program that would require hearing tests for all newborns. It has also spoken out against other initiatives, such as the first sales tax proposed in the 1930s, Luttrell said.

Boring-Damascus Grange members also discuss politics during their meetings and have passed resolutions that address political issues, such as the grange's endorsement of Measure 36, the 'traditional marriage' amendment to the Oregon Constitution. 'When we vote on an issue, the majority rules,' Luttrell said, 'and it becomes grange policy. It's very grassroots based.'

After a 10-year hiatus, Luttrell said the group decided to host a forum because it has 'a lot of new members and a lot of excitement' for community involvement.

'We kind of look at this as our legacy,' Luttrell said, 'to get people involved, educate the citizenry and let the process work.'

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