>The Culver Democrat will face a Wamic man in the May primary for the newly created District 59 seat
March 20, 2002 — Two weeks ago, Jim Gilbertson thought it might be time again to act on an impulse inspired by John F. Kennedy, whose words encouraged him many years ago to stay informed about politics.
So the Culver-area man filed to run for the Oregon House of Representatives.
Gilbertson and another Democrat, Patrick Davis of Wamic, will square off during the May primary for the party’s District 59 nomination. In November, the winner will face John Mabrey, R-The Dalles, a former mayor of the city who is currently Wasco County Judge.
“I really feel like I’m the underdog because this is Republican country,” said Gilbertson, who grows hay on a 135-acre farm. “But I hope there’s a lot of open-minded people out here that will take what I have to say into consideration.”
With no incumbent running, the newly created 59th district seat is there for the taking. It encompasses all of Jefferson, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam and Wheeler counties, plus a portion of Grant County that extends east to John Day.
Greg Smith, R-Heppner, currently holds the seat after redistricting ushered him in, but he lives outside the boundaries. Smith has filed to run for state representative in District 57.
Gilbertson said he thinks Central Oregon needs bipartisan representation and that he has many ideas voters from both major parties can subscribe to. He considers himself a moderate or conservative Democrat, anyway.
“The representation in Salem from Bend and Eastern Oregon is all Republican and a lot of Republicans think alike,” Gilbertson said. “I think I’d have some different views that will benefit all Central Oregonians.
“I like to make sure our government is running efficiently as can be, but I’m also aware of the needs of people who do need government assistance.”
Gilbertson was born in South Dakota and earned a high school diploma in Minnesota. He moved to Oregon in 1952 and worked for Willamette Industries, a wood manufacturing company, for 40 years as a supervisor.
He retired and moved to Jefferson County to farm in 1991.
High on Gilbertson’s list of priorities is protecting and investing in education. He said he wants to restore and maintain Oregon’s education reserve funds that the state borrowed from to balance its budget.
Gilbertson said he supports the family farm, preserving the Oregon Health Plan and putting maintenance of roads and highways higher on the Legislature’s list of priorities.
Gilbertson said his philosophy in regards to the relationship between government and the private sector is simple.
“I believe in having a vibrant free-enterprise system with just enough regulations to keep it open to all who have the resources, ideas, ingenuity, initiative and guts to tackle their dream,” he said
Gilbertson also believes in what he calls “clean industry.” He’s no big fan of Cogentrix, but he said the proposed power plant isn’t an issue guiding his campaign or something he’d try to derail if elected.
“I’d just say that I’m uneasy with them coming in here and using our water — the most pure, clean, and fresh water in Central Oregon,” Gilbertson said. “And using it to cool turbines.
“It’s like a farmer using alfalfa as bedding for his cattle.”
Gilbertson has never been an elected official although he has run for office before. He said the closest he’s come to public office was serving as a precinct chairman for 35 years. The job entailed calling members of his party on voting day to remind them to make it to the ballot box.
“I think this would be a real opportunity and challenge to serve this north Central Oregon district,” Gilbertson said. “I will try to put my nose to the ground and pick up any concerns and problems people might have and see if we can take them to the Legislature.”