By Tyler Leeds
Hometown: The Dalles
Education: Eldon High School, Eldon, Mo., 1975; took college, professional and executive management coursework to support professional career over the years
Occupation: Retired from broadcasting; currently involved in commercial real estate and property management
Previous political experience: First appointed to the Legislature in 2007
Family: Wife, Korina, eight children, 15 grandchildren
Education: Bachelor’s degree in horticulture and park management from California Polytechnic University in Pomona, 1977
Occupation: Makes computer controls to manage water pumps
Previous political experience: Lost to Huffman in the 2010 Republican primary
Republican voters in House District 59 will have a choice between a seven-year incumbent and a water pumping control specialist who refuses campaign contributions in the primary this May.
John Huffman, R-The Dalles, was appointed to his seat in 2007 after Rep. John Dallum resigned from the post. Huffman, 57, serves as vice chairman of the Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee and also sits on the Education, Ways and Means, Veterans’ Services and Emergency Preparedness and Capital Construction committees.
Britt Storkson, 59, of The Dalles, said he was inspired to run after repeatedly failing to win a seat on the Wasco Electric Cooperative board of directors in what he claims have been rigged elections. Storkson is critical of the role money plays in politics, arguing that his opponent and other state legislators are under the sway of private donors. In order to remain impartial, Storkson has vowed to not accept donations for his campaign.
If re-elected, Huffman said he will continue to focus on striking a balance between the use of technology in law enforcement and respecting privacy, something he said he accomplished last year with a bill that regulated the use of drones.
“I will continue to move forward on privacy bills,” Huffman said. “There are all these new electronic tools that allow access to someone’s data from cellphones and websites that law enforcement can use, but we’re trying to find the right point between what would benefit enforcement while making sure they are used responsibly and privacy is protected.”
Huffman also said he believes Oregon needs a new Interstate 5 bridge connecting the state to Washington, and that he would “work with Washington legislators and identify those in Oregon to see if there’s the possibility of coming up with a plan that both states could buy into.”
Of his past achievements, Huffman cited his push to help Central Oregon Community College and Oregon State University-Cascades Campus receive the funding needed to transfer the university’s Cascades Hall to COCC, granting COCC more space and facilitating OSU-Cascades’ expansion into a four-year university. He also noted his leadership on a bill that granted undocumented students in-state tuition at Oregon universities, a move that drew criticism from fellow Republicans but praise from within his district, Huffman said.
When discussing a future term in the legislature, Storkson focuses on the big picture, especially his views on the role of money in politics. He doesn’t believe private money should be thrown out of politics, but he does want a way to make sure it is traceable.
“Private money in politics is not inherently evil, but what is the problem is that you can’t always track money to its true source,” Storkson said. “Say I wanted to contribute to Huffman; I could give you $1,000, and you could pass it on for me and say you contributed it when, in fact, I did. We don’t know who people are held accountable to.”
For the economy, Storkson said he would support right-to-work legislation, which he believes would help grow businesses.
“I’m for employees’ protection, I know what corporations can do to employees,” he said. “But you get to the point where it all hamstrings everyone, the regulations and burdens. They stifle any kind of economic development and end up harming people. Unions have no legal obligations to protect their members anyway.”
Storkson said he would also support the streamlining of permits, noting the difficulty a friend had with opening a bed-and-breakfast hotel.
“I’d really like to see the government have 60 days to issue or deny permits; businesses can’t wait with such uncertainty as it stands now,” Storkson said.
Storkson has been vocally critical of Huffman, claiming the incumbent has supported the rigging of the Wasco Electric Cooperative board of directors elections. Storkson claims that Huffman and the electric company have kept a dossier on him, tracking his activities in their efforts to keep him off the board.
“Huffman’s not going to change anything because he’s getting money from them somehow,” Storkson said.
Huffman denies all of these claims and said he has investigated the board’s elections to ensure “they are all well above board.”
The primary will be held on May 20. No Democrats have filed in this race.
— Reporter: 541-633-2160, firstname.lastname@example.org