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Soapbox: Anything to win, not a win

State Representative Julie Parrish describes what she calls 'desperate behavior' at Town Hall.


ParrishOn Aug. 21, I held a legislative town hall in Tualatin to inform constituents about the 2011-12 legislative session and share bill concepts being worked on for 2013.

Three individuals who attended arrived and sat separately from each other. As we did introductions, they all claimed they were in-district constituents. Midway, one woman pulled out her camera and began recording video. The other two, a young woman and man, were using their telephones to record audio.

As a legislator, I have no problems being recorded, and I’ll defend my words.

Julie Parrish, West Linn, is the incumbent Republican legislator for House District 37, which includes Tualatin. She is running for re-election against Carl Hosticka
 

However, I take issue with what happened next. During the Q&A, the young woman became belligerent with a 74-year-old constituent as he asked me a question about tribal gaming. She then proceeded to act in a manner designed to agitate the conversation, clearly attempting to illicit a “gotcha” response so my answers could be recorded for the purpose of splicing and dicing the audio and video into negative campaign ads for Carl Hosticka, my opponent. Interestingly, one of the tenants of Hosticka’s campaign is “no more partisan games.” 

During the exchange, one of the real constituents who attended, a Democrat who lives in Tualatin, jumped in, hoping to stamp down on the woman’s tirade. While I understand an opposing campaign coming to record an event is par for the course in politics, the behavior of this group was embarrassing. If my opponent isn’t embarrassed by his campaign team behaving so poorly while “representing” him at a town hall, he darn well should be. He is running to represent the people of Tualatin and West Linn, not have his staff belittle constituents in a public forum. I’m beyond embarrassed for any elected official who would condone his staff misbehaving in a public setting, lying and otherwise badgering constituents.

Worse, it says volumes about the desperation and consistently shameful tactics of FuturePAC — the campaign arm of the Oregon House Democrats, for whom this behavior is nothing new. Remember the 30 percent sales tax ads in 2010? Sending people like this into the field shows the electorate little consideration, and sends the message that winning is the only thing that matters. Congressman Charlie Rangel, D-New York, recently said about negative campaigning, “If you want to win, you’ve got to play this filthy, obscene game.” Well, I’m trying to teach my children, anything to win is not winning. Clearly that’s not the lesson Hosticka is attempting to teach his grandchildren.

I have since identified these “constituents,” one of whom received personal reimbursements from my opponent’s campaign PAC for expenses incurred on the same day as the town hall. After the big procession they made arriving separately, pretending not to know one another and sitting apart from each other, I find it ironic they didn’t think I’d notice them sitting in the lounge together comparing notes afterwards.

I sincerely hope voters recognize and reject this kind of desperate behavior. 

It should be repugnant to us all. If my opponent wants to talk issues, that’s fine. But sending belligerent staffers to a town hall to gather “ammunition” for his race and calling that a campaign is no campaign at all. The voters in this district are smarter than that. They saw through those same negative attacks in 2010, and they just aren’t having any of it.

Read Carl Hosticka's response.

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