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Smith endorses Corbetts Thiemann for HD52

by: contributed photo, Phyllis Thiemann.

Phyllis Thiemann says she is ready to continue the 'great work' of Rep. Patti Smith and is the best choice for House District 52 voters who wish to see that legacy go on.

'I want to make sure that citizens are represented in the House and that we don't lose our voice,' Thiemann said.

Smith agrees; she endorsed Thiemann last week.

'I think she's great, and I'm proud of her for throwing her hat into the ring,' Smith said. 'I was real pleased to see that a small-business owner wanted to do this … we need more people like her in the Legislature.'

Smith describes Thiemann as a 'big supporter,' an acquaintance and someone 'who has been very involved in the political arena.'

'I haven't found anything we disagree on yet, but we haven't had a lot of time yet to talk about all the issues,' Smith said. 'She has a lot of experience in recreation and tourism, which is where this district is headed.'

Thiemann, 53, is the co-owner of the Brickhaven Bed and Breakfast in Corbett - Patti Smith's hometown - and works as the marketing and event coordinator for the city and port of Cascade Locks.

Thiemann comes into her campaign with more direct leadership experience than Smith had when she first ran. Thiemann has served as president of the West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce and was on the governmental affairs committee for that organization, serving as a representative for the business community on issues such as transportation and public safety, among others.

She also has served as president of the Columbia River Gorge Visitors' Association, and has been a part of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Department citizen's advisory board (CBAC), the East Metro Economic Alliance, the Future Forum Committee for the Columbia Gorge and the Community Advisory Team for the Columbia Gorge.

Her previous occupational experience includes work as a real estate agent, UPS driver and sales administrator for Freightliner. She is a graduate of Camas High School.

All of that experience, Thiemann says, prepares her for the Legislature because she has, firsthand, dealt with many of the issues facing the district.

'I've learned in a trial by fire over the last eight years, dealing with special-interest groups and land-use planners,' Thiemann said. 'It's actually served me well in the fact that I can try to work through the political mire. Because of the land-use issues that have gone through with the bed and breakfast, I've become intimately acquainted with some of the regulations … and the challenges we face.'

Thiemann said she would address and balance the big issues of the Sandy area: Highway 26 safety, recreation opportunities and tourism.

'It's about trying to bring some safety while continuing to have thriving businesses and making sure we have a continuing economy there,' Thiemann said.

Her background as a tourism marketer is sure to come in handy, she said.

Thiemann plans to use her Patti Smith connection to meet with Oregon Department of Transportation officials next week to discuss Highway 26 safety issues.

'I'm anxious to get up to speed about what's already been discussed,' Thiemann said, 'and to find out what (ODOT) sees as problems and possible solutions.'

Thiemann says that while she is motivated to engage the issues of land-use law reform, transportation and economic and environmental sustainability, she admits she has no grand vision for her legislative career.

'I think that anybody can dream and really want to do something,' Thiemann said, 'but you really have to do some research and find out what the possible pitfalls of your dream are.'

Instead, she wants to affect the process by which legislation is created. She wants to help make the Legislature less partisan. She hopes to hear from a number of different viewpoints, not just those that have lobbyists in Salem. Ultimately, she believes a representative is just a well-positioned member of a team of community-minded individuals.

Thiemann says she hopes to keep in contact with her large, diverse district with town hall meetings, among other methods.

'I would work for my district, and I will listen to people, their opinions, their concerns and their ideas,' Thiemann said.

'I think that there's no one person that has all the answers, but I think that collectively we can answer the questions and find workable solutions. It's going to take a team, and hopefully I will be part of that team.'

Thiemann says she isn't afraid to adopt many of the characteristics of Smith's tenure in the Legislature

'I think Patti is a great person who has come to the table with an open mind,' Thiemann said. 'She works across party lines, she believes in partnership and great communication - things I hold dear as well.

'I think sometimes people come into an office to reinvent the wheel, to do something different,' Thiemann continued. 'But you don't want to undo what's already been done if it's good.'