By Taylor W. Anderson

The Bulletin

Democrat

NAME: Gena Goodman- Campbell

AGE: 32

EDUCATION: B.A., Colorado College

GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE: None

SALEM — Gena Goodman- Campbell wants to take her experience building support among businesses and ranchers in Central Oregon to the Capitol.

The 32-year-old Democrat grew up in Portland and after college moved to Bend, where she’s spent 10 years, much of them working at the Oregon Natural Desert Association.

She’s now looking to unseat Republican Rep. Knute Buehler from Bend’s seat in the Oregon House, a win that could make her the only Democrat east of the Cascade Mountains, and possibly the state’s youngest legislator.

To win, she’ll have to overcome Buehler’s name recognition and fundraising prowess.

“I’d see my role as a legislator as providing a voice for people in Bend,” Goodman-Campbell said.

Goodman-Campbell said she was raised by parents in public service. Her mom was a teacher and her dad a city planner for the Port of Portland. She attended Colorado College, where she focused on international conflict management. She studied conflict resolution in Washington, D.C., at American University, which she said has helped her in her career.

“I’m really concerned about the urban-rural divide,” Goodman-Campbell said. “I think we need to be talking to each other more and listening to each other more.”

As a legislator, she said she’d use her background as an environmental organizer who worked to bring ranchers, farmers and businesses on board with the idea of designating nearly 30,000 acres of land east of Bend as the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. It received the designation in 2009.

“When I went out and had conversations with different business leaders in the community, I heard over and over again that places like the Badlands are central to our quality of life here,” Goodman-Campbell said. “It will be good for business if we can protect places like the Badlands and other aspects of our … natural amenities.”

There are notable contrasts between Goodman-Campbell and Buehler on several issues.

Goodman-Campbell supports Ballot Measure 97, saying, “We simply need more revenue to hire more teachers, bring back career and technical education, and bring back classes like art and music and shop.” Buehler opposes the corporate tax measure.

Goodman-Campbell supports the law legislators passed this year that is phasing in a higher minimum wage in the coming years. She supports the law requiring most Oregon employers to allow workers to earn family leave. She also favors the universal gun background check law the Legislature passed in 2015, requiring a background check on most gun transfers.

Those measures were controversial when they came up in the Legislature, pitting Republicans and most Democrats against one another. Buehler voted against them on the floor.

Goodman-Campbell highlighted those differences in an interview, saying Bend residents are “struggling with an economy that is just not structured to support working families at this point. Issues like paid sick leave, it’s big when I’m talking to people in this community.”

While Goodman-Campbell and Buehler emphasize that creating more affordable housing in Central Oregon is a top priority, the two are opponents on housing issues that are likely to be top issues in the 2017 legislative session.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, said she’ll back a plan to prevent rents from rising over a certain percentage, a practice supporters call rent stabilization.

“I think it’s definitely worth having the conversation about both rent stabilization and no-cause evictions,” Goodman-Campbell said. “It’s impossible to ignore this issue. I’ve knocked on thousands of doors at this point. It’s the No. 1 issue that comes up again and again.”

Buehler says rent stabilization would have a negative effect on rental housing prices. “Economic evidence shows rent control will stifle supply over the medium term,” Buehler said. “People won’t invest in affordable housing; they’ll sell their rentals into housing instead of people being able to rent them.”

In addition to attracting strong support from House Democrats, some of whom have campaigned with her in Bend, Goodman-Campbell is supported by environmental groups that are working to get her elected.

“With somebody like Gena, we know that she’s going to be a yes” on environmental bills, said Doug Moore, executive director of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. “She’s going to be leading the effort to pass those types of pieces of legislation.”

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley was also in the area helping with her campaign, Goodman-Campbell said.

“It’s been an incredible experience for me,” she said.

— Reporter: 406-589-4347,

tanderson@bendbulletin.com

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