When House District 52 Democrats cast their votes for the May 20 primary in the coming weeks, we recommend they send Suzanne VanOrman of Hood River to the general election.
VanOrman, 68, has the experience necessary to serve as a state representative. Her leadership saw the expansion and success of the Mid-Columbia Children's Council, a Head Start program that provided pre-kindergarten education for scores of youngsters from Madras and Tygh Valley through Hood River and up to Goldendale, Wash.
While working with Head Start, VanOrman learned many vital skills: how to manage employees, how to stretch the budget of an under-funded program and how important an investment education truly is.
That experience has caught the attention of state leaders already. She has been asked to serve on the budget workgroup for the Oregon Commission on Children and Families, and her would-be colleagues in the Legislature are already gearing up to get her on the powerful Joint Ways and Means Committee.
VanOrman also has experience as an elected official - serving as a city commissioner for Oregon City - and in Salem as a legislative aide.
Her professional experience and public service background serves as the best-possible springboard for a freshman legislator coming out of our district. VanOrman has the ability to make a difference on day one, and we believe she knows enough about the issues facing our district to take advantage of that opportunity.
We fully expect her to push for education reform, better police coverage of Highway 26 and a statewide healthcare solution.
VanOrman's primary opponent, Sandy attorney Steve Richkind, presents a positive, idealistic message that deals less in the specific issues facing District 52, but more about starting a revolution of peace, love and understanding in the electorate.
Richkind's candidacy is a refreshing change of pace from the politics-as-usual campaign season, and his ideas are ones that the majority of people would support, if not actively campaign for.
While Richkind's motives and ideals are noble, we think his revolution would be better launched from a different venue.
Richkind himself said his campaign is just the first step in a larger movement to put the government back into the hands of ordinary citizens, as he would say.
He's considering a run at the state Attorney General's position as an independent in November, and we're hoping he'll consider that. Given Richkind's experience in civil rights law and his stated personal vendetta against the office for multiple (alleged) instances of injustice, that race could better suit him, and could provide him a bigger pulpit from which to preach his sermon of individual power, cooperation and consensus.