Oregon gubernatorial candidate Kevin Mannix has vowed that no casino will be built on the slope just east of Hood River unless the citizenry wants it.
“I will not force any community that doesn’t want a casino to take it,” said the Republican candidate who is running against Democrat Ted Kulongoski.
However, instead of just granting the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs an alternate site in Cascade Locks, Mannix would like to bring all Oregon tribes to the table to find a “holistic” approach to the growth of gaming centers.
“We need to take a look at all communities instead of just doing this one by one,” Mannix said.
He said those conversations would also include the wishes of Cascade Locks, an economically-depressed city, to house a casino that would provide hundreds of job opportunities.
“I can’t give a firm definitive answer about Cascade Locks at this time but I’m trying to listen to what that community wants and be as fair as possible,” said Mannix.
Both Mannix and Kulongoski arrived in Hood River on Thursday to address the Oregon Consortium Board of Directors and the Oregon Workforce Alliance.
At that gathering of public/private officials from 23 Oregon counties, Mannix shared his plan to overcome Oregon’s first place ranking in the nation for unemployment and lowest for job creation.
He said the state government should be in the role to “champion” the development of job opportunities by providing training opportunities and business incentives — without micromanagement.
“All of this fits together in a seamless web, but we need to commit ourselves to new ways of doing things with the understanding that there are wonderful, gifted people out there and we need to support them.”
He said one of the biggest reasons that Oregon was not thriving economically was the oppressive number of regulations that had strangled natural resource industries and hampered business growth and expansion.
“Oregon is one of the most regulated states in the nation; this laying of rules reminds me of barnacles that attach to a ship so it can hardly move through the water,” said Mannix.
He believes that any new taxes should be approved by voters and land-use planning needs to be simplified with more control returned to local governments who can better determine the needs of their own citizens.
Mannix contends that Oregon can attract more investors if the capital gains tax, the second highest in the nation, is reduced immediately to a middle range of five percent. He said that move would ultimately net the state even more income since it would free money for development.
He said, if elected, he will bring a “change of attitude” to the governor’s office and will reflect the will of the people even when he doesn’t personally support their votes on issues.
“There will be a fresh wind blowing through the state government but the strong trees will stand,” said Mannix.
By ERIK STEIGHNER
News staff writer
Oregon gubernatorial candidate Ted Kulongoski expressed a preference for a casino site in Cascade Locks during a Rotary luncheon Thursday afternoon at the Copper Salmon Pub.
Just after 12:30 p.m. Kulongo-ski, the Democratic candidate who is opposing Republican Kevin Mannix, took to the podium to lay out his basic platform and answer questions from Rotary members.
Kulongoski said he was opposed to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs’ proposed casino site on the hill overlooking Hood River.
“I’d rather have it built in Cascade Locks on the industrial site,” he said, acknowledging that whoever is elected governor is facing some tough choices.
“I’m absolutely committed to seeing that the Tribe has resources to provide for its people,” said Kulongoski.
“I do not want to see casinos moving closer to the Portland area,” he added. “I do not think that is good for the Gorge.”
During his speech, Kulongoski praised Hood River and stressed the need for statewide action.
“This is a growing, healthy community, and it’s only going to get better,” he said. “We must all step up — all of us — if we want to fulfill Oregon’s promise.”
Kulongoski said that the governor needs to restore innovation, flexibility and creativity in Oregon’s economy and government.
“We must possess the belief that we, the citizens of Oregon, have control over our destiny,” said Kulongoski, who has served as an Oregon state legislator, Oregon’s Attorney General and on the state’s Supreme Court.
Kulongoski pledged to give Oregonians living wage jobs in order to help the economy and the state’s resource base.
“My commitment is to develop a strategic vision of where we want to go with Oregon’s economy,” Kulongoski said. He said that the government should look at funding public works and the Department of Transportation in order to modernize roads, bridges and other structures.
“Bridges are the link between the economy and the community,” said Kulongoski, pointing out that if people have to drive hundreds of miles out of their way to ship goods it hampers economic development.
To raise revenues, Kulongoski proposed doubling the vehicle registration fee to $30. Oregon, which now has the lowest fee in the nation, would move up to 44th if the increase took effect. Some of the funds would be used to modernize bridges already identified by the Department of Transportation as needing improvement.
“This plan would work,” Kulongoski said, “and would create almost 3,000 jobs immediately.”
Kulongoski also said that as governor he would reevaluate and streamline the business legislation process.
“It should not take longer to get the permit than it does to construct the building,” he said. Kulongoski then called for a more constructive relationship between government and business, and a commitment to natural industries to strengthen the economy in areas with low income families.