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Democratic Party primary candidate hopes to fill Bill Kennemer's seat after his retirement from Oregon House

Beavercreek resident Elizabeth Graser-Lindsey has announced that she is running in the Democratic primary this May, the first step in her hopes to fill the House District 39 seat being vacated.

Elizabeth Graser-LindseyLongtime State Rep. Bill Kennemer (R-Canby) plans to step down at the end of 2018, causing Democrats to wonder whether the seat could flip from its current control by the Republican Party. Graser-Lindsey is the first Democrat to announce a bid for the primary election, the winner of which will in November likely face off against Ken Kraft of Redland, who filed for the Republican primary. Republicans outnumber Democrats by 35 to 30 percent in the largely rural HD39 area that includes Barlow, Barton, Boring, Canby, Carus, Charbonneau, Eagle Creek, Estacada, Fischers Mill and Mulino.

On whether the country can overcome its "civil war" of opinions, Graser-Lindsey noted her friends and family span the party divide. In her opinion, both parties value freedom from government interference, while trusting in appropriate governmental roles to maintain the rule of law, for example.

"We do find many areas of agreement, common conviction and mutual understanding such as family, community, values, frugality," she said. "Hence, I believe we can find a way forward together in unity."

A small farmer and former university professor, Graser-Lindsey has spent much of her volunteer time during the past two decades since moving to Beavercreek on local land-use and transportation issues. She got involved with local politics in the mid 1990s, when Metro selected Beavercreek for urbanization by designating it as an urban reserve.

"If I hadn't gotten active in it, it's quite possible that Beavercreek would be a city right now, and all of the small farms we have out here would be gone," she said.

Seeing that Metro's 1997 determination was "against the clear wishes of the community to remain rural," she intensified her involvement in land-use court cases. As corresponding secretary for the Beavercreek area, she gave written and spoken testimony on behalf of the hamlet.

Graser-Lindsey helped re-activate the Beavercreek Community Planning Organization and was the co-chief petitioner for Beavercreek to be one of only four neighborhoods to be recognized by the county as a hamlet. She has since opposed Oregon City's plans to develop along Beavercreek Road without raising traffic standards, which she sees as responsible for allowing traffic to clog and ruining livability.

Graser-Lindsey previously served on Clackamas County's Transportation System Plan committee for two years. During her one year on the county's Traffic Safety Commission, she advocated for rural road safety by pointing out ditches along roads, the lack of turnouts and blind hills with fatal crashes.

Graser-Lindsey is concerned about how climate change is affecting our region. She has seen a reduction in snowpack feeding our drinking-water supply, fewer natural pastures for livestock and more dying perennials as the summers get drier.

As an official county "Energy Steward" she received 18 hours of instruction, and then was required to give 18 hours back through public outreach and education. She shared ideas on energy conservation and weatherization with the community and applies these ideas to her own home. Since China recently stopped taking most of Oregon's recycling, she wants Oregon to re-start "genuine recycling."

Graser-Lindsey also would like to look into solutions to gentrification.

"Our kids, including my own, are priced out of the housing market in our district," she said. "Housing in the whole region has become largely unaffordable to most people."

After majoring in soil science, she got her Ph.D. in bio-environmental engineering and did agricultural research for the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1985-88 in Florida. She a professor of agricultural meteorology and climatology at the University of Hawaii for about eight years in the late 1980s and early '90s.

Graser-Lindsey has lived 22 years in Beavercreek, where she and her husband raised and homeschooled their three children, now young adults. She has been an active parent in 4-H, the local high school equestrian team, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, in educational programs, and in her church. She raises San Clemente Island goats and is helping one of her children get started in farming.

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