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Thiemann: 'Partisanship is a problem'

The fight for district 52

Republicans have held the Oregon House District 52 seat since it was created after the 2000 census. Corbett's Patti Smith has represented the Sandy area, Hood River County and parts of East Multnomah County since 2001, but announced earlier this year that she won't seek a fourth two-year term.

As was noted in the April 16 Post, the Republican base of the district has eroded since 2004, and now, Democrats believe the seat is ready for takeover.

The two Republican candidates seeking to replace Smith are very different in terms of their approach, their key issues and experience.

The Post sat down with both Corbett small-business owner and tourism professional Phyllis Thiemann and renowned mixed martial-arts fighter Matt Lindland, and discussed some of our area's big issues.

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Phyllis Thiemann says one can learn a lot about her based on her two favorite films: 'Pollyanna' and 'Erin Brockovich.'

She says she believes in addressing injustice and problems with optimism and a sunny personality initially, but if that doesn't work, dig in your heels and fight for your cause tooth and nail.

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

Experience: Former president, West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce; former member, West Columbia Gorge Chamber Governmental Affairs Committee; former president, Columbia River Gorge Visitors' Association; member, Multnomah County Sheriff's Department Citizen's Budget Advisory Committee; member, East Metro Economic Alliance; member, Future Forum Committee for the Columbia Gorge; member, Community Advisory Team for the Columbia Gorge. 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.

What has been your proudest accomplishment?

Thiemann says her work with small businesses in the Columbia River Gorge brings her the most pride, specifically her quest to give bed-and-breakfast inns, wineries and farm properties more latitude in the law to allow those businesses to have events and lodging for supplemental income.

'It was really rewarding to be able to say I led that charge, and other people were able to benefit from that,' she said.

In these economic times, what will you do to ensure that the district weathers a recession and increase - or even maintain - the number of family-wage jobs here?

'You know, I don't know if we actually have an answer,' Thiemann said. 'We need to listen to what the businesses need - what they would see as a benefit, as help.'

She advocates a more collaborative process to develop solutions, getting the solutions directly from the business community, rather than handing down decisions from government.

'We need to find out what would actually help to create jobs and maintain jobs,' she continued. 'It's something we're all going to have to do together - not just one party - it's a whole state issue.'

How do you hope to address the transportation issues on Highway 26?

Thiemann says she plans to continue to have discussions with various stakeholders to balance concerns of safety versus accessibility. She's personally upset by the lack of police protection in the Mount Hood corridor.

'They assign officers in relationship to the population,' Thiemann said. 'Maybe the measure of how they determine that needs to change to how many automobiles are on the road.'

She hopes to lead that discussion.

What do you think of the so-called Green Corridor Agreement with the city of Sandy, Clackamas County and Metro?

While Thiemann admitted she wasn't familiar with the agreement, she said that in general, 'Each community should have the option of being their own entity, and working well with other entities. I don't think that's unreasonable.'

Current voter registration numbers indicate that the Sandy area is split Republican and Democrat. What does that mean for our area, and how do you plan to address the other side of the aisle?

'We are a very diverse district economically, politically and socially,' Thiemann said. 'So to find that balance is always the key, and I think that the time is right to make sure that we're not overly partisan on these various issues. It's what's right for the times, and for our district.'

In summary, she said, 'I need to be open and listen to all sides.'

What makes you upset, politically speaking?

'Injustice,' she said. 'When people impose their rights above someone else's, when hardworking people are forced out of business because of land-use difficulties - that bothers me a lot. We need to get back to balance, to fairness.'

BONUS QUESTION: The HD52 seat has been identified as a potentially weak seat, ripe for takeover by Democrats. What's your response to that?

'I feel that partisanship is a problem in any race,' Thiemann said. 'I would hope that the people in District 52 would look at the candidates overall, find out what the issues are in their area and vote accordingly.'

She says the district needs a 'strong candidate' who can work with agencies, business owners and other groups.

Anything else to add?

'I just want people to know I'm willing and able to represent them in the Legislature,' she said. 'I believe in open dialogue. I want to hear from them about the issues that aren't being addressed or being heard.'

She said she plans to work to improve the state of the economy, public safety and transportation.

More information: www.votethiemann.com