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Brown goes after District 38 post

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Linda Brown has high hopes and a new pair of shoes.

On Tuesday, Brown announced she will run for the position of state representative of Lake Oswego's District 38, which will be vacated by Greg Macpherson.

Macpherson, D-Lake Oswego, recently announced he will enter the race to replace Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers, who is resigning after his third term.

A Democrat, Brown will run in the May primary, and if she wins, move on to the November 2008 election.

Brown said she is unsure whether she would keep her position as chair of the Lake Oswego School Board if she wins in November. Her four-year board term runs through June 2009.

'I'm filing early because I want to walk this district and get to know it,' Brown said, noting that she will begin putting her new shoes to work right away.

Brown has served on the Lake Oswego School Board for seven years and has served as chair in the 2003-2004 school year and is currently chair through June 2008.

'After 20 years of advocating as a community activist, testifying in Salem, I am more than ready to put my experience to work in state government on the decision-making side of the table,' she said.

In addition to serving on the school board, her experience includes serving as chair of the Oregon School Boards Association Legislative Policy Committee and chair of the Blue Heron Neighborhood Association. She also serves on the Oregon School Boards Association Governance Committee, Lake Oswego Asset Builders Coalition and the Lakewood Center for the Arts Board of Directors. She is past president of the Lake Oswego Junior Women's Club.

Her biggest concern: Tax reform. After serving on the school board's budget committee, she thinks the way Salem doles out funding to schools needs to change.

'Schools are competing with the needs of senior citizens and health care for money from the general fund,' she said. 'We shouldn't be pitting the need for health care against the need for our children's education.'

Brown is hesitant to reveal just how she would fight to get more money for local schools, as well as public safety, health care and transportation.

'We need to look at all sources of taxes and fees,' she said. She added: 'People keep talking about a sales tax.' But she declined to give her stance on a state sales tax.

Rather than altering the state's tax system through referendums, as has been in the case for more than 15 years in Oregon, Brown said she wants to work with fellow legislators and go through the process of allocating revenues 'in a public and very visible manner. That's the way government should work.'

Brown said she's experienced in allocating money, having served as chair on the school board and budget committee, as the school district rebuilt and upgraded its two high schools and middle and elementary schools in a series of projects over the last seven years costing about $90 million.

'I'm also proud of seeing us through very difficult downturns due to the recession of 2003 and coming out of the recession strong and able to offer a broad array of electives and small class sizes,' she said.

Lake Oswego School District Superintendent Bill Korach said stable school funding would be at the top of his list of legislative priorities. He said he believed Brown is 'an extremely hard worker and a good listener.'

'She shapes her opinions over time,' said Korach. 'One of Linda's great contributions is she is very knowledgeable about a range of issues. This is a very knowledgeable person who really works at understanding community issues.'

Brown said she's ready for the hard work of ironing out budgets at the state level. It begins with learning what her potential constituents want.

'I'll get to know the district with my feet on the ground,' she said.