Six District 2 candidates have varying missions, but agree on one thing
ASHLAND, Ore. —
Southern Oregon University hosted a Democratic Candidate Forum for District 2 today, which welcomed six candidates: Jim Crary, from Ashland, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, from Phoenix, Jennifer Neahring, from Bend, Michael Byrne, from Hood River, Timothy White, from Bend and Eric Burnette, from Hood River.
Hundreds turned out at the forum to hear what each candidate stands for and, which would be the best fit to go head to head with current representative Greg Walden for the congressional seat.
"[Walden] talks a really good game and he tries to dumb down his message, and I think that District 2 is a lot smarter," said Ollie Bucolo, an Ashland resident.
Jackson County Democrats are using their wits to choose what new face will best represent them in Congress.
Candidates say they first and foremost would bring accountability to Washington.
"I want people that get elected to Congress to start representing their constituents, not their contributors," said Crary.
"Being able to stand up to the tough interest, being able to practice ethics and practice that in governance, that's what people are looking for these days," said McLeod-Skinner.
They are also looking to represent on positive policy reform.
"For healthcare, for education for job opportunities and is ready to fight for them," said Neahring.
"Measure 101, it's tremendous, but it did not pass in 16 of the 20 counties in this district," said Byrne.
And push for economic growth through various avenues.
"What I'm talking about is opening up this district. If we can open it up with roads, that brings eco-tourism and all those jobs it'll bring," said White.
"Are we going to do something to really help the middle class? I don't think the middle class needs a tax cut, I think what they need is a raise," said Burnette.
The candidates were also asked to comment on immigration and healthcare reform, net neutrality, the LNG pipeline among other issues.
And although their responses varied, there was one consensus, they say the District 2 seat needs to be replaced.
"People are frustrated with Walden, they know he's hurt us all on healthcare,” said McLeod-Skinner.
Representative Greg Walden’s spokesman disagrees.
“Oregon has no stronger voice for the ranching, farming and small business way of life that dominates Southern Oregon,” said Walden’s spokesman.
Ashland resident Ollie Bucolo says he would like to see change but says Walden will be a tough contender to beat.
"The challenge in beating Walden is going to be money, the RNC, and the national party is behind him," said Bucolo.
Candidates say the strategy will be to win votes by the principle of what they preach and not by political party.
All candidates say they would support one another if they themselves are not selected to represent in Congress.