Democrats line up to challenge Walden

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, shown here during a Bend town hall meeting in April 2017. (Ryan Brennecke/Bulletin file photo)

If there’s one thing Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, pays attention to, it’s the people and issues of his 2nd Congressional District. And while his Democratic opponent would have you believe otherwise, Jamie McLeod-Skinner is simply wrong. His record should persuade voters to return him to Congress next month.

Walden, 61, faces McLeod-Skinner, 51, of Terrebonne, in the November election. Also running is Mark Roberts, a truck driver from White City, is the Independent Party nominee, though the party has refused to endorse him.

McLeod-Skinner graduated from high school in Southern Oregon, holds a degree in civil engineering. She also earned a law degree from the University of Oregon. She has worked overseas and spent nearly a decade as a planner in Silicon Valley. She worked briefly as city manager in Phoenix, a small town in Jackson County, but was fired on a 3-2 vote by the city council in March 2017.

Walden grew up in Hood River, where he still lives and votes, graduated from the University of Oregon and was an effective member of both the Oregon House and Senate. He first was elected to Congress in 1998.

McLeod-Skinner believes Walden has done too little to help protect the forestland that dominates most of the district and the communities nearby. It’s a charge that doesn’t stand up to examination.

Walden was a driver behind the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 and pushed successfully to end the practice of fire borrowing, which required federal land agencies to spend down their budgets to fight catastrophic fires instead of using that money to improve wildland health. Too, he has worked hard to persuade Congress to adjust the boundaries of a wilderness study area near Crooked River Ranch to improve safety for the community in northern Deschutes and southern Jefferson counties.

He’s also been a driving force behind a new law that deals with the nation’s opioid crisis through such measures as better screening, pain management treatment and addiction recovery. Again, McLeod-Skinner says that’s too little too slow, though surely it’s a strong beginning.

As for health care in general, he notes she favors a single-provider system, which would cost, according to a variety of estimates, between $1.3 trillion and $2.8 trillion annually. No matter how you slice it, that’s a huge chunk of the federal government’s $3.3 trillion in expected revenues this year, and it would require a major tax increase on everyone to finance, according to PolitiFact. Walden believes a better approach would be to drive down costs by requiring increased transparency and disclosure.

Finally, McLeod says Walden has done little for his district in general. Yet he visits each county, all 20 of them, at least once a year. And while he’s held only two face-to-face town halls this year, he continues to hold — and invite participation in — telephonic town halls and other, smaller gatherings. Given the tenor of recent town halls, some of which required police escorts for the congressman, it’s no wonder he hasn’t rushed to make them a major part of his campaign.

Walden is not a flashy politician. Instead, he works hard at his job representing the people of the 2nd Congressional District. He chairs the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has passed out nearly 200 bills under his guidance, mostly with bipartisan support. He reflects the views of this district well and will continue to do so. He should be re-elected.

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