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Gallegos, Unger make second-term bids

Districts freshmen Democrats are both facing challengers


Two of Oregon’s newest legislators have decided to seek fresh terms.

State Reps. Ben Unger (D-Hillsboro) and Joe Gallegos (D-Hillsboro) were elected to two-year terms in 2012, and both believe their work with the Oregon Legislature is unfinished.

Unger, who filed the necessary paperwork Jan. 22 to run for another two-year term in Salem, said he is prepared for the new challenge.

“We’ve only just begun to start solving the big problems I ran on — fixing public school funding and continuing to build up our rural economy,” Unger said. “I’d like to think I have an important voice in leading decisions on these challenges.”

As of Jan. 27, Unger has drawn at least one opponent in the 29th Legislative District race.

Mark Richman, a deputy district attorney with Washington County, filed to run for Unger’s seat Jan. 12.

“I’ve always been driven by a desire to make the world around me a better place,” Richman said. “I believe taking an approach that promotes fairness, freedom, and flexibility in how our government works will help us get more jobs for Oregonians, schools that better prepare our children for the future and safer communities.”

Richman said he believes Unger is vulnerable.

“He’s led the charge from an extreme wing of the Legislature to put an end to the incentives that have brought family-wage jobs to our county,” Richman said. “Our prosperity leads to stable funding for strong schools and transportation infrastructure. Ben Unger’s efforts to take that away in order to pander to statewide government employee unions are unconscionable. We can’t have stable funding for schools without a robust economy, and we can’t have a competitive work force without world-class education for our kids.”

Unger said he believes he can help make Oregon a better place for all its citizens.

“I am running again because I have dedicated my life to making Oregon the best place it can be,” Unger said. “We have a lot of work left to get to perfection, and I want to devote my next two years, if elected, to fighting for a world class education for our kids and supporting an economy that will create middle class jobs for all Oregonians. It’s not going to be easy to achieve these goals, but it wouldn’t be worth doing if it was easy.”

Common Views

Gallegos said he regards Unger as an important partner in the legislative process, and he pointed out the two legislators share a common view on many key issues.

“It’s been a pleasure to serve with Rep. Unger throughout our first year in the Oregon House,” Gallegos said. “We share a deep commitment to Oregon’s schools, and I’m looking forward to continuing our work to deliver better results for all students in Washington County and throughout our state.”

Gallegos, who represents the 30th Legislative District, is being challenged by Republican Dan Mason, who also lives in Hillsboro. Mason, who filed Dec. 16, said he believes voters are hungry for a new approach.

“I think most people feel helpless when it comes to their government,” Mason said. “At one time, our political process was a two-way conversation between elected officials and their constituents. Today it seems we only hear from our leaders after the fact — once taxes have gone up, services have been cut or something has been regulated or banned. I’m here to change that.”

Win or lose, Mason said he would not be outworked.

“I’m looking forward to knocking on doors for the next nine months, asking the people of Hillsboro what they want out of our state government,” he said.

Gallegos has not yet filed the required paperwork to get on the ballot, but the deadline to file for a legislative office is not until March 11, and a spokesman for Gallegos said there is no doubt he will seek a second term.

“We’ve been swamped prepping for February — Joe always prioritizes his legislative responsibilities over campaign work — but we will be filing,” said Danielle Winterhalter, legislative aide for Rep. Gallegos. “In terms of re-election, right now Joe is focused on developing policies for the 2014 session that will bolster schools, put Oregonians back to work, and support our local economy. We’re having a great time gearing up for February.”

In two other area legislative races appearing on the 2014 ballot, state Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro), who has served in the Oregon Legislature since 1999, filed Jan. 7 to run for another four-year term in the Senate, where he represents the 15th Senate District. As of Jan. 28, no one had filed to oppose Sen. Starr.

Also seeking another term is state Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Warren), whose 16th Senate District represents parts of Banks and Forest Grove. Johnson filed Sept. 18, 2013, to run for a third term. To date, no one has filed to run against Johnson.

State Rep. John Davis (R-Wilsonville), whose district includes a sliver of Hillsboro, will also seek a new term. As of Feb. 3, no one has filed to challenge Davis.

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