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Barton throws hat into district ring

District lines now encompass Gladstone and Oregon City school districts

Brent Barton wants to be Oregon City and Gladstone's representative in Salem so badly that he's moving to the McLoughlin neighborhood from the Clackamas Town Center area before filing for the Democratic primary.

Buying a historic house on the bluff with his fiancée (he's getting married in July), turned out to be much more complicated than he expected. Barton, an attorney, tried to save money for his campaign by doing without a Realtor to make the deal.

Barton, 31, had no illusions about how difficult it will be to stabilize funding for the Oregon City School District, however, which would be his No. 1 priority if elected to the House District 40 seat that's being vacated by Dave Hunt, who is campaigning for the Clackamas County chair's position.

'Schools need not just more funding, but also the way that state government is organized right now is not efficient in terms of the return of investment on education,' Barton said. 'One of my primary goals is to divert at least the corporate kicker into a rainy day fund.'

Barton ran for state Senate District 26 in 2010 and lost to Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River). He was elected in 2008 to the House District 51 seat. Clackamas County and the Oregon City School District have always been in Barton's districts.

'We face really complicated and difficult problems, and they're going to require creative solutions,' Barton said. 'People always disagree on public policy, but the first step is to identify a common ground and to build on that, and the common ground I've heard over and over on the doorstep is that we need to stabilize funding for schools and other essential services.'

Barton said the best indicator of Oregon's economy in 30 years is the quality of schools now. Although he has definite ideas for balancing the upcoming budget crisis, he also acknowledges that compromise will be necessary.

'Our systems are broken and they're not getting fixed because of partisan politics and narrow thinking, and as a result we're getting outcompeted in the global economy,' Barton said.

Looking at how issues such as economy, inadequate education and runaway costs are intertwined, Barton said he won't be afraid to engage in discussions about how funding is allocated.

'Money follows the students and that's appropriate, but when you have a situation like OCSD, it's a double decrease, and as a result it disproportionately affects school districts with declining enrollment,' he said. 'You would not operate a small candy store on the business model that the state of Oregon functions on - it's ludicrous.'