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Unger best choice for HD29 race

Voters in Oregon House District 29 will have a tough choice when their ballots start arriving later this month.

Katie Eyre showed tremendous promise when she ran for an open seat two years ago. During an election when many new Republican candidates parroted Tea Party platitudes, the Hillsboro CPA struck us as someone who’d evaluate issues on their merits rather than a partisan playbook.

She got our endorsement, won handily and largely lived up to our high expectations. In taking a lead role on the Columbia River Crossing, she butted heads with some GOP leaders. In looking to help for low-income residents with their utility bills, she reframed the debate inside her caucus to win support and has emerged as a leading advocate for victims of domestic violence.

Finally, Eyre’s got a good reputation for responding to constituent services and is far more engaged with local government and community leaders than her predecessor.

So, why are we backing Ben Unger?

It was a close call, but there were several factors that influenced our endorsement.

n With deep roots in western Washington County, the Democrat, whose family farms near Cornelius, would bring a needed rural perspective to his caucus and the metro-area delegation. There are no farmers left in the Oregon Legislature, and while it’s been awhile since Unger was out in the berry fields himself, he has a deep understanding of the challenges facing those who make their living off the land.

n Similarly, Unger – who worked on the statewide campaign to protect land-use laws – could help balance the desire to open more land to development with the need to protect farm and forest land.

n His views on social issues (he is pro-choice and supports gay rights) are better aligned with most voters in the district, which stretches from downtown Hillsboro to Gales Creek.

n Unger – who is 36 years old — shows even more promise than Eyre did two years ago. He, more than Eyre, seems as interested in listening as talking and his work on statewide campaigns has given him key contacts outside the district. Yes, he’s a bit unpolished, but he has shown amazing poise in the midst of bruising personal attacks from Eyre’s campaign.

And, those attacks did factor into our decision. Eyre’s campaign has distorted Unger’s positions, criticized him for being a renter and warned district residents not to open the door if he comes asking for their vote.

Eyre has tried to distance herself from the slimy tactics saying she doesn’t get involved on the details of what the campaign says about her opponent.

When pressed, she concedes that the strategy “is not my style” and said that if she’d have to stand up and publicly say she approved of the message, she’d probably balk. Her desire to hold on to her legislative post is admirable. Her failure to reign in her campaign, however, is deeply disappointing.

We urge voters to support Unger, who’s taken the high road in this race and shows tremendous promise for the district.




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