Lee Coleman has been involved in politics for decades, so it's no surprise that he's running for State Senate at age 75.
But to those who've known him in the past, it may be a surprise that he's running as a Democrat.
Coleman, who was always somewhat liberal on social issues as a member of the Log Cabin Republicans, was an active member of the Oregon GOP until 2004. That's when he openly opposed George W. Bush, thus buying a ticket out of the party.
The beginning of the end of his time in the GOP though, started when George W. Bush, during a State of the Union address, asked for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Combine that with the still-unfolding debacle involving the outing of his cousin, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative, and the stage was set for Coleman to leave his party.
'As a legal scholar, I was incensed,' Coleman said of the president's request for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. 'You don't abuse the Constitution and you don't abuse a three to four percent segment of the population.'
Coleman said he was disgusted at Bush and other Republicans' pandering to the Religious Right, and became disillusioned with the idea of limited government prominent in the party.
'Republicans, they have a hatred for government that is beyond reason,' Coleman said. He feels that many state Republicans favor drastically shrinking government, to the point of cutting off dire services. 'When you do that you throw people into pain, misery and even death.'
Coleman believes in government that 'really cares' about people. With that in mind, he wants to expand affordable healthcare coverage and fight for a number 'social justice' issues, including responsible tax policy; environmental protections for land, air and water; fair land use rules; and adequate funding for police protection.
In terms of tax policy, Coleman said that means making sure everyone is paying a fair share. He hopes to have larger C corporations pay for a larger share of the state's taxes, and will work to require utility companies to refund taxes collected in advance from ratepayers but not actually paid to Oregon.
'It's unfair for the individual taxpayer to pay 95 percent of the state's revenues,' he said of Oregon's tax system.
Coleman said he also hopes to spur job growth in the state by providing private enterprise to business and by the state taking a leading role in developing alternative energy projects.
Coleman believes a key to Oregon's economic prosperity lies in establishing a better east-west highway system; he calls the current layout a 'disgrace' for a modern state. He is promoting a 'Northwest passage' highway from Wilsonville to Scappoose.
'The only way to tie the state together is with adequate highways for commerce and for people,' he said.
Coleman, who has lived in Aloha since 1990, is originally from Southern California, and attended UCLA, where he earned his business and law degrees. He is now retired but worked with several different publishers writing and publishing law books.
Coleman's Web site is www.friendsofleecoleman.org.