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Democrat throws hat in District 37 ring

State Rep. Julie Parrish welcomes the challenge

One Democrat has stepped up to challenge Julie Parrish for her seat representing District 37.

Gerritt Rosenthal, an environmental consultant, previously ran for the seat in 2010 against Joelle Davis of Tualatin and Will Rasmussen of West Linn. Rasmussen outspent his competition significantly and won the Democratic nomination.

Now Rosenthal, a 20-year Tualatin resident, appears to be throwing his cap back in the ring. A graduate of Reed College, he holds a master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota, and a master’s degree in hydrology from Cornell University.

Calls to Rosenthal were not returned by press deadline.

Parrish said she welcomed any challenger.

“The beauty of a district like 37, is that this district has always been under a microscope in this state,” Parrish said. “Everybody should have that process. Everybody should be held up in their community and have it all put out there.”

“I think a good, healthy democracy demands we have choices,” she said.

Parrish is now in her second term.

Parrish herself comes from a military family, and her husband is a 23-year veteran of the service. She continues to position herself as an advocate for veterans and their families.

“I’m absolutely dedicated to making sure we have programs in place and funding for our National Guard and soldiers, and the 300,000 some-odd veterans in the state,” she said.

“We don’t have a base community, so there’s still a lot of work to be done on that front,” she said, citing statistics that show a nearly 50 percent unemployment rate among those who were deployed from 2009 to 2010.

Parrish hinted she had been encouraged to run for other offices, and even to consider pursuing a state Senate seat.

“I’m staying put,” she said. “Even with all the upheaval in my own caucus.”

Parrish lost a leadership position in the House Republican Caucus in February during a mid-session vote. The shift was widely seen as a reaction to Parrish’s decision to recruit an additional candidate for the emptying District 25 seat, giving outspoken right-wing radio host Bill Post added competition for candidacy.

But Parrish remained undeterred by the recent negativity.

“There are a lot of things I care about that I haven’t finished yet,” she said. “Like education. In 2004, (Oregon) was ranked 40th in the nation. We’re starting to move that dial, but we’ve only moved up three ranks, essentially.”

And she is thinking globally, she said — in part by focusing on forest projects, like the Clackamas County Hardwood Forest initiative, which aims to establish a crop of a different sort with Clackamas County Parks and Forest, in a region that has mainly produced soft-wood timber.

It’s an investment in economic growth that could be more than a quarter-century away.

“If we do it right, and get the project up and moving, I’ll be old, but down the road, it’ll be a billion-dollar industry,” Parrish said.

“It’s not just about, ‘We should cut taxes’ — there’s other ways we can facilitate job creation,” she said.

And although the unemployment rate finally dipped to its lowest since the recession began, she said, creating a hardier job market has become more of an immediate concern to her as she watches her eldest son prepare for high school.

“I look at, ‘What’s the job opportunity gonna be for my kids?’” she said.

But there is another reason she’s been enjoying her eventful tenure in office, and is excited for it to continue.

“All my kids have been able to come down to the Capitol on school field trips, and (their) mom’s been on the House floor,” Parrish laughed. “That’s pretty cool.”

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