Suzanne Bonamici and Rob Cornilles will speak and answer questions

The special election to fill the Oregon 1st Congressional District seat in Washington, D.C., is fast approaching, and a team of Washington County chambers of commerce is teaming up to host an economy-themed debate just days before voters get their ballots in the mail.

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 7:30 a.m., Republican Rob Cornilles and Democrat Suzanne Bonamici will square off for a debate at Broadway Rose Theatre Company, 12850 S.W. Grant Ave., Tigard.

'It's about getting people back to work,' said Linda Moholt, CEO of the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce. 'We want our members to better understand what each candidate will bring so that they can make the best possible vote for the future.'

Both candidates are vying to fill the seat left by Democrat David Wu, who resigned in August amid a sex scandal.

Cornilles, a Tualatin resident, has never held public office before, but he did run against Wu for the seat in 2010, winning about 42 percent of the vote.

A small business owner, Cornilles founded the Tualatin-based Game Face Inc. in 1995, which is a consulting and executive training firm for professional sports franchises.

Bonamici represented the Beaverton area in the Oregon Legislature beginning in 2006. Before coming to the Legislature, Bonamici worked as an attorney in Portland and with the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.

The morning debate will center on how the two candidates will grow business in the 1st District and fix the economy.

'This is a very pivotal time in our country,' Moholt said. 'Having the right person who understands the importance of getting people back to work is so important. People can take care of themselves if they have a job, and helping businesses get back to work and be able to hire is the No. 1 priority.'

There is no simple solution for how to fix the still-struggling economy, Moholt said, but there are some things that can be done at the congressional level to improve the situation that she hopes the two candidates will address.

'Each sector (of the business community) needs something different, but when we spend money towards things like infrastructure, we put a lot of different types of businesses back to work,' Moholt said. 'It is needed. We have roads that are under serious disrepair and bridges that need to be fixed and at the same time, it puts a lot of different sectors of work back to work.'

Moholt said that she would also like to hear about streamlining the tax code.

'It is extremely expensive for a small-business owner to figure out how to finish their taxes,' Moholt said. 'Streamlining the regulations so they know what is expected and know what it is going to cost them is a priority.'

The deadline to register to vote in the special general election is Jan. 10.

Election day is Jan. 31. Ballots will be mailed to voters on Jan. 13 through 17. Completed ballots must be received at an official drop-off site in the 1st Congressional District by 8 p.m.

For locations and business hours of official drop-off sites outside the 1st Congressional District, see the Oregon Secretary of State's website at

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