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Green nominee draws attention

Governor candidate was involved in Beaverton website flap


Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Pacific Green Party gubernatorial candidate shakes hands with his Democratic rival, Gov. John Kitzhaber and Republican state Rep. Dennis Richardson, during a Sept. 22 joint appearance at the Pamplin Media Group offices in Portland. The former Beaverton teacher made a surprise entry into the newspaper's offices to take part in the joint appearance.When Jason Levin crashed a meeting of the two major-party candidates for governor with the Pamplin Media Group/EO Media Group on Monday, it wasn’t the first time that the Pacific Green Party nominee had drawn attention to himself.

But Levin says that compared with the well-heeled campaigns of Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber and Republican Rep. Dennis Richardson, he has to resort to such guerrilla tactics.

It’s his main reason for running, he said in an interview earlier this month at his home outside Portland.

“Nobody is really satisfied with either of the two big-money party candidates,” he says. “You have the guy who screwed up Cover Oregon and the other guy who is screaming about it, but has no alternative plan.

“If half the people who say they don’t like either candidate voted for me, I’d win in a landslide.

“I do want to show my kids you don’t have to settle for less — and I think it will be fun.”

Levin has reported raising and spending nothing on his campaign, compared with $2.9 million for Kitzhaber — who is seeking a fourth nonconsecutive term — and $1.3 million for Richardson, a six-term representative from Southern Oregon. As of Wednesday, Kitzhaber’s campaign had more than $2 million on hand, Richardson’s, $600,000.

Except for Julius Meier in 1930, Oregon voters have elected only major-party candidates as governor. The best modern-day showing by a third-party candidate was Al Mobley, who received 13 percent in 1990.

In the news

Aside from crashing Monday’s meeting, Levin was in the news three years ago.

He was a media lab technology teacher at Conestoga Middle School in Beaverton, where he started in 2008, when he created the “Crash the Tea Party” website in 2010.

He was put on paid administrative leave in 2011, returned to duty after a couple of weeks, but then put on leave again during the final week of classes in 2011. He resigned after a district investigation into the alleged use of public resources and time spent at school, and after a recommendation to the school board for his dismissal. A district spokesman said Levin’s political views were not a factor.

The Teacher Standards and Practices Commission took no action against him, but his teaching licenses have expired.

“At the least, it may help me get a little more media attention,” Levin says. “I believe it’s not going to hurt me. If you look at the Tea Party’s record, they’re against a lot of things, but they’re not for anything.”

These days, Levin, 40, is a stay-at-home dad with his two children, Sam and Rayna. His wife, Erin, is a teacher. He also is a co-owner of Bald Brothers, which makes cannabis-infused butters and oils.

His views

One of Levin’s key points is his support for Measure 91, which would legalize marijuana for recreational use and put the Oregon Liquor Control Commission in charge of regulation and retail sales.

“It’s going to be an economic engine that will help our state’s economy,” he says. “I have no illusions that legalization is some sort of magic bullet that is going to fix everything. But it will increase the amount of money the state is making and will decrease other things.”

He contrasts his support for Measure 91 with opposition from Kitzhaber and Richardson, although Kitzhaber has termed “legalization” inevitable and Richardson says he would rather await developments in Colorado and Washington, where voters approved legalization in 2012.

Other points:

• He favors a government-paid system of health insurance coverage. “I really believe health care is the linchpin for better education and more jobs,” in that it would induce more people to take chances in starting their own businesses and older teachers to retire without fear of losing coverage until they qualify for Medicare.

• He favors breaking up large school districts, such as Portland and Beaverton. Referring to the recent pay increase for Portland Superintendent Carole Smith to $247,000 annually, he says, “If $250,000 is a raise, your district is too big.”

• He supports expansion of vocational and technical education as alternatives to college.

• He opposes Measure 90, which would allow the top two finishers in a primary regardless of party to advance to the general election.

• He supports Measure 92, which would require labeling of genetically engineered foods.

• While he opposes coal exports and oil trains, he supports logging as long as old-growth forests are protected. He acknowledges that position is not shared by many in his party.

“The Pacific Green Party is idealistic but not practical,” he says. “If you want to be a viable candidate for the state’s highest office, you need to be able to fund projects. Timber is a renewable resource.”

Levin also is a gun owner and a bow hunter.

His campaign website is:

www.jason4governor.org

pwong@PamplinMedia.com

(503) 385-4899

twitter.com/capitolwong

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