We welcome the two Republican candidates - Eagle Creek's Matt Lindland and Corbett's Phyllis Thiemann - to the race to succeed Patti Smith, R-Corbett, as representative of House District 52.

Both candidates are a good complement to the two Democratic candidates - Steve Richkind of Sandy and Suzanne VanOrman of Hood River. The quartet of would-be legislators creates a good variety of ideologies and geography.

When we endorse candidates sometime between now and May, we'll choose them based on several things: that they are knowledgeable about the Sandy area's issues, they have clear and identifiable goals to address some of those issues, and they give us the kind of face time we deserve.

Now that the primary races are set in stone for our district, we thought we'd reflect on the current crop of candidates:

Matt Lindland, Republican

Certainly this Olympic athlete and mixed martial artist will add excitement to the primary season. Lindland, an Eagle Creek resident, is a successful business owner with proven management skills and discipline. Now, can that translate from the gym to the political arena?

It's up to Lindland to prove that he's more than a novelty when it comes to this election. It's incumbent upon him to show that he has the time, the commitment and the plan to effectively represent this district. The man's schedule is so busy these days that he wasn't able to spare 10 minutes to talk with us.

Lindland's voter's pamphlet statement speaks of thwarting a 'tax-and-spend' agenda of the Democrats. He wants to change how business is done in Salem, but can he do it as a minority voice?

Steve Richkind, Democrat

Talking with this Sandy attorney, one immediately realizes he's an idealist. He wants more open, accountable government. He wants a movement of inspired citizens to take back their government. He wants partisanship to end and for everyone to just get along while working for the good of the state.

These are noble goals. We wish him well, but we can't help but think that this sounds more like a grassroots political movement than a campaign for state representative. We are curious to see how this idealism takes form in the district race, and how his generalized ideas about how government should be run could translate into clear, achievable goals.

Phyllis Thiemann, Republican

This Corbett businesswoman is like Patti Smith with more of a foundation in organizational leadership. For fans of Smith, Thiemann would prove to be a worthy replacement. Her views are similar to Smith's. She is from Corbett. Smith endorsed her. She has vowed to continue her neighbor's work in Salem, which includes a spirit of bipartisanship.

What remains to be seen is whether she gives the Sandy area the same attention that Smith did. One of Smith's greatest accomplishments in the area was the push to build cable barriers in 'Blood Alley' and the extension of the Highway 26 safety corridor. Would Thiemann continue that legacy? Her forthcoming meeting with Smith and ODOT officials certainly is a big step in that direction.

We're still waiting for some big ideas from Thiemann, but we're encouraged by her mindset that she will develop her agenda by talking with constituents instead of forcing an agenda down constituents' throats.

Suzanne VanOrman, Democrat

Suzanne VanOrman already has a head start - no pun intended for the former pre-school education executive - over her rivals in both parties. She has been a regular sight at public meetings, chamber of commerce gatherings and local Democrat meetings. She had a sizable fund-raiser in Sandy this past weekend.

We narrowly endorsed incumbent Patti Smith over VanOrman in the 2006 election but declared that either candidate would be a win for the district. VanOrman clearly has demonstrated mastery of the issues surrounding the district, special attention to the Sandy area, and the near-to-locals'-hearts issues of education and healthcare.

She's a Hood River resident, but you'd never know it by how much she is spotted out here. VanOrman clearly is the candidate to beat right now.

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