State Rep. Gene Whisnant, whose 53rd state House district is sort of like a donut hole around Bend and includes Redmond and Sunriver, is retiring from the Oregon Legislature before the 2019 legislative session. Democratic primary election voters will choose either Eileen Kiely, 59, Sunriver, or Bill Trumble, 72, Redmond, to run in the November election.
Though their backgrounds are very different, they do share some similarities. Both served in the U.S. Navy. Kiely joined after Iran released the last of its 52 American hostages on Jan. 21, 1981. The 52 and 14 others had been seized 444 days earlier. Kiely served for four years.
She’s a graduate of Wright State University in Ohio, and has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Minnesota. Trumble is a Washington State University graduate with a Ph.D from the University of Texas Health Science Center in medical physiology. She spent her working career in business, while Trumble spent his as a scientist, teacher and college administrator.
The two say they hold largely similar political views. Both believe health care is a fundamental right and would like to see a universal health care system in the country, something they believe can be financed without new revenue. Both are strong supporters of Oregon State University-Cascades, and both believe it will provide a major boost to the region’s economy in the years ahead.
Kiely is a strong supporter of more limits on gun ownership. She supports raising the age of gun ownership to 21. Her corporate business experience would be an asset in the Legislature. Trumble, meanwhile, would impose a 25-cent-per-glass tax on alcohol sold by the glass as a way to reduce the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System’s unfunded liability of at least $25 billion. His experience in education and as a scientist also would be an asset to the Legislature.
Both may do a respectable job, if elected. Kiely seems to have the edge. She has spent more time in Oregon than her opponent, giving her a notably better understanding of the state and its problems. That’s important in a Legislature dominated by lawmakers who represent urban areas far different from the small communities of District 53.