Firefighter files for Rep. Lims House seat

Longtime public servant wants to give city its due
by: contributed photo, Greg Matthews

A longtime and active Gresham resident threw his hat into the ring for one of the few uncontested state House seats in the May primary.

Greg Matthews is running as a Democrat, uncontested in May, and against incumbent John Lim, R, District 50, in November.

Matthews, 43, has been a lifetime Gresham resident and served as a police officer for 11 years and now is on his 11th year as a firefighter. He also served in the Army as a military police paratrooper.

'I feel like I've spent well over half my life defending my country and my community, and this is the next step of serving,' Matthews said. 'It's something I've been considering for a great deal of time, and the time is right to do it this year.'

Matthews and his wife, Suzette, own Small World Learning Center day care in Gresham, and they have three girls - Kassidy, 7, Jessica, 4, and Samantha, 2 - in the Gresham school system. He's also the president of Gresham Firefighters, Local 1062.

'I feel like I'm very connected to this community, and I feel strongly about the livability issues in Gresham,' he said. 'It came down to a passion about Gresham and the direction that we need to get into.'

He's still working out his running platform, but he mentioned several issues important to him, including public safety, schools, and living-wage issues for working families.

According to his campaign pamphlet, he would 'fight to make sure the politicians pay attention to East County's public safety needs.' Regarding taxes, Matthews supports 'aggressive audits of state agencies and increased citizen oversight to reduce government waste.'

Health care is another issue he would focus on, he said. The pamphlet states that he wants 'greater scrutiny of out-of-control rate hikes and assurances that our health insurance premiums aren't being wasted on overhead instead of medical care.'

'I fully support what our mayor has been doing, and I think our elected officials in Gresham have done a pretty good job,' Matthews said. 'I just think that it's time that, in the House anyway, that we get the representation we deserve. And I don't necessarily think we've had that.'

Oregon Education Association members recently endorsed Matthews.

'(Matthews) is well-known in his community, he's a public servant, he understands the needs of public employees, and what's happening in Gresham, and (members) feel that he'll be a strong voice in Salem,' said BethAnne Darby, director of public affairs for the association.

He's been busy working out a support network, set up a campaign fund, and has filed for committees. He's also seeking a campaign manager, as well as community volunteers in his run against Lim.

The Korean-born Lim served as a state senator from 1993 to 2000. Then facing possible ouster by term-limits, he ran for state House in 2004 and won; he won re-election in 2006.

Matthews conceded that fund-raising is going to be the biggest challenge in the race, going up against Lim's war chest.

'I'm going to have to go out and really work hard,' said Matthews. 'I believe this campaign will be won on the doorsteps. I'm willing to go out there and meet and greet folks and let them know that I truly want to represent Gresham. I feel like I've done that my whole life, and I just want to do that on the House floor.'

Matthews attended Mt. Hood Community College and Portland Community College. This is his first run for governmental office.