Its Garrett vs. Maginnis in House District 38 race
Both are unopposed for their parties' nominations
A Lake Oswego Republican is challenging Democrat Chris Garrett for his position as state representative in House District 38.
Tom Maginnis is running unopposed in the Republican primary election in May. Garrett is also running unopposed on his party's ticket. The district covers Lake Oswego and parts of southwest Portland.
Maginnis, 62, a fourth-generation Oregon-ian who lives in Lake Oswego with his wife, Lynne, describes himself as a 'self-made businessman.'
He said his experience as a small-business owner has given him a unique perspective on the government. Maginnis has owned the Southeast Portland Chuck E. Cheese's for almost 30 years; it's among the company's highest-grossing franchises in the country.
'Because I own a business, I have a unique window into what's going on with taxation, services and overreach - or reach - of the government,' he said. 'I see all the levels in aggregate as opposed to just one level,' looking at the total impact city, state and federal policies have on organizations when combined. 'None of the levels of government looks at any of the other levels of government. They only look at their own.'
Frustration with that oversight drove him to run for office.
'I could sit around and complain about this,' he said, 'or I could try and get in and contribute to changing it so Main Street business stays successful and by staying successful generates the jobs that pay the taxes that support the economy.'
Maginnis, who worked in the late U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield's office for five years, describes himself as a 'Mark Hatfield Republican,' someone who is willing to break from political party lines when necessary, he said.
In a later job, while overseeing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra-tion's National Ocean Service, he said he helped a 'bloated' agency shave $75 million to $100 million off its budget and move nearly 1,000 employees to other areas of the government.
'You don't need to fire people to get more efficient,' Maginnis said. 'That's something I could bring to the table from my federal experience and my business experience.'
Looking at state issues, Maginnis said when it comes to subsidizing business initiatives and upstarts, today's lawmakers aren't taking the right approach.
'Instead of doing a cost-benefit analysis of that business you want to create, you should do a cost-benefit of what you're going to do to businesses and individuals you're going to take it away from,' he said. 'They never do the analysis the other direction: What economic activity am I prohibiting or making uneconomical in order to make this one work? … I'd look hard at taking it away from Main Street to give it to a speculative upstart.'
He believes a stronger economy will lead to more funding for education programs.
'For some people there's never enough - I understand - but there was a lot of money in the system in 2007, and as the economy went down, that dried up,' Maginnis said. 'That's one of the reasons we're in such crisis. We need to get Main Street going again and see how much we can solve.'
Then, he said, if schools are still struggling, that's when 'you go to the next step, which is more tax. But you don't put the cart before the horse.'
Garrett, 38, was born and raised in southwest Portland and lives in Lake Oswego with his wife, Lauren. He is an attorney with Portland firm Perkins Coie.
He has also worked as a senior policy adviser for Sen. President Peter Courtney and was once a legislative assistant for Sen. Richard Devlin. He won his first term as a state representative in 2008.
If re-elected, Garrett said he hopes to continue 'making smart budget decisions and making strategic investments as the economy starts to recover and we see the budget climate improvement - particularly making reinvestments in education, where we've had to make so many cuts.'
He also would spend much of the 2013 session ensuring education and health care reforms are implemented - 'If we do it right, we're going to save hundreds of millions of dollars and keep people healthier,' he said - and 'taking a really hard look at the public safety system,' one of the state's big three spending areas, along with education and health care.
'We've made big reforms in the education and health care sectors, but we haven't done as much in the public safety arena,' Garrett said.
He worked to craft an initial series of recommendations last year and plans to continue with specific proposals in 2013 'for changes to the public safety system to make the state safer at a lower cost.'
He said a 'cost-benefit approach' to spending public safety dollars could funnel more money toward crime prevention and lower recidivism - 'proven methods we know will help prevent more crime at a lower cost.'
Garrett also hopes to work on tax reform. He supports modifying the 'kicker,' which gives back some money withheld from income taxes when the state takes in more revenue than expected. Some of that money could be redirected to a rainy day fund, he said, 'to cushion the state against future downturns and ensure we have money in reserves … primary for the benefit of our schools.'
In terms of his recent legislative achievements, Garrett focused on two, including leading a redistricting committee that secured bipartisan support for redistricting plans for Congress as well as the state House and Senate 'for the first time in many decades.'
'That was something few people thought possible, but we got it done,' he said.
Also, he highlighted laws recently passed aiming to help homeowners facing foreclosure. He said he negotiated to bring the reforms back before the House after they appeared to stall because of Republican opposition.
'It's something that's going to make a big difference in the lives of thousands of Oregonians,' Garrett said.