The fight for district 52

Republicans have held the Oregon House District 52 seat since it was created after the 2000 census. Corbett's Patti Smith has represented the Sandy area, Hood River County and parts of East Multnomah County since 2001, but announced earlier this year that she won't seek a fourth two-year term.

As was noted in the April 16 Post, the Republican base of the district has eroded since 2004, and now, Democrats believe the seat is ready for takeover. But they'll first have to get past whoever wins the Republican nomination.

The two GOP candidates seeking to replace Smith are very different in terms of their approach, their key issues and experience.

The Post sat down with Corbett small-business owner and tourism professional Phyllis Thiemann and renowned mixed martial-arts fighter Matt Lindland, and discussed some of our area's big issues.


Eagle Creek's Matt Lindland is a fighter in every sense of the word. Not only is he an Olympic silver medalist wrestler and world-renowned mixed martial-arts competitor, he'll fight against what he believes is injustice.

Lindland, 37, got his nickname 'The Law' when he successfully fought for a spot on the 2000 U.S. Olympic team in the courts, after he was the victim of an illegitimate loss in the Olympic trials.

'I've fought for what's important to me, and now I want to fight for what's important for this district,' he said.

Experience: Lindland owns Team Quest Gym - a martial-arts focused training center and athletic club - and is a partner in Sportfight, a firm that brings Ultimate Fighting Championship events to the Rose Garden. He hasn't had any formal government experience, and he says that's exactly what District 52 needs - someone who isn't a professional politician.

'I'm one of the regular citizens out here with common-sense values, who wants to go down and represent my district,' he said.

What has been your proudest accomplishment?

Lindland says he counts his family as his proudest accomplishment, including his two teenage children and his wife of 16 years, Angie.

'I've had a lot of success,' Lindland said. 'I'm an Olympic medalist, but to me, my proudest accomplishment is that I have two well-adjusted young adults.'

Economic times are hard. What will you do to ensure that the district weathers a recession and increase - or even maintain - the number of family-wage jobs here?

Lindland said he believes government today is too quick to tax, thinking that taxing can fix all of society's problems.

'We need to lighten up on the regulations and new taxes,' he said. 'We need to let the businesses develop out in this area, hire people, and continue to provide jobs and healthcare for the citizens.'

How do you hope to address the transportation issues on Highway 26?

'I think addressing transportation issues on rural, two-lane roads is probably our No. 1 priority right now,' Lindland said. 'We need to stop spending money on sky trams and trains.'

He says his plan for improving the Highway 26 corridor begins with one simple act: painting the road lines. He also said expanding the Cherryville cable barriers appears to be an effective, inexpensive solution for solving traffic fatalities.

What do you think of the so-called Green Corridor Agreement with the city of Sandy, Clackamas County and Metro?

Lindland admitted he's not familiar with the agreement, but notes, 'I know that Sandy is really proud of the fact that it's a unique community, and that they'd like to keep Metro out of here.'

At the same time, he recognizes landowners' desire to develop what they want.

'We've got to figure out a solution to' those tensions, Lindland said. 'I don't know what the answer is right now.'

What do you plan to do, specifically, to make sure the geographically and ideologically diverse communities of this district are well represented?

'Well, I think I have to get out into some of the other communities,' Lindland said, noting that he's spent a lot of time in the Sandy area and is familiar with it.

'I know a lot about this community,' he said. 'I need to travel down the Gorge to get to know their issues better.'

Current voter registration numbers indicate that the Sandy area is split Republican and Democrat. What does that mean for our area, and how do you plan to address the other side of the aisle?

'I think a lot of what I believe in is common sense,' Lindland said, 'and I think the people in this area, whether they're Democrats or Republicans, have similar values.

'We're all rural people, and we all have these small-town beliefs, and I think that everybody out here wants the same things. I want the support of both sides when I go to Salem to represent them.'

What makes you upset, politically speaking?

'Probably the fact that for every problem we have, government wants to solve it by taxing,' Lindland said. 'They'll find someone somewhere to tax to pay for the solution, instead of fiscal responsibility, using what funds are available and finding alternative solutions.'

He says tax increases end up becoming a 'never-ending cycle.'

Why should we vote for you?

He says the traits that made him a top-rated athlete are the skills that would make him a good representative.

'I can stay focused, I'm dedicated, disciplined and willing to make sacrifices for an end,' Lindland said.

BONUS QUESTION 1: You're a mixed martial-arts fighter, a business owner, a fight promoter and a family man. How are you going to have time to be a state representative?

Although Lindland recently signed a new contract to fight mixed martial-arts matches around the world, he's planning to schedule those bouts around the January-to-June session in 2009.

'I don't anticipate fighting during the session,' Lindland said, noting that he plans for two bouts before the end of the year, and then will be able to 'focus on the session.'

BONUS QUESTION 2: What should voters make of your 1989 third-degree theft conviction?

He said when he was 19, he was charged with theft when he tried to bring 'browning' bananas to his wrestling buddies at the grocery store where he worked. He says he thought it was better to give the fruit away than to have it thrown away.

'Of course I'm gong to make mistakes, and I'm going to learn from them,' Lindland said. 'If that's the worst thing I've ever done, I'm doing all right. I just don't appreciate people accusing and dragging stuff up.'

Anything else to add?

'I think that all the experiences I've been through in my life have brought me to this point,' he said. 'I've learned a lot, and had a lot of unique experiences I can bring to the Legislature.'

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