York bets county seat on state bid

News staff writer

December 17, 2005

Hood River County Commissioner Carol York intends to carry experience from almost nine years of public service into a state race.

On Tuesday, York filed as a Republican challenger to incumbent Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Welches. She decided to seek the District 26 seat out of the belief that Salem needs a “strong voice” to better represent local governments.

York chose to take her experience to the state level instead of running for a second term in her current elected role. She was first appointed to the District 1 position in February of 1997 and won an election bid in 2002.

Next year she hopes to vacate the local office for a new desk at the state capital.

“I think Oregon needs more legislators who have been in the trenches and on the ground serving the people,” she said.

York contends that, based on her involvement with the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC), it appears that the Legislature is out of touch with many constituent concerns – especially economic needs.

In fact, she said no other senator serving at this time has previously sat on a county board. She believes her insight will help state officials better understand the long-term consequences of new laws that they enact.

She said the state often mandates that a local government provide a service – but doesn’t tie any funding to that extra task.

“Counties provide so many services for the state but I don’t think the legislators understand why these partnerships were created or why they need to be funded,” said York.

She said it is time for state officials to stop the “rhetoric” and get real work done to stabilize school funding, expand health care coverage, and create more job opportunities.

Part of the problem, said York, is that there is too much of a partisan divide in the state capital. She claims a proven record of working well across party lines.

“Like most Oregonians, I am tired of the partisan bickering in Salem,” she said. “I believe in collaborative leadership and will do my part to put the state back on track. I will work with Republicans, Democrats, Independents and whoever else will listen and work toward solutions to the challenges that face our communities and our state.”

York said a prime example of local bipartisan leadership was the work undertaken to site Cardinal IG in Odell. She said the County Commission joined with Cascade Locks and Hood River port and city leaders to obtain startup tax breaks and streamline regulations for the major employer. And today 170 workers are enjoying a new career opportunity.

York said officials throughout Hood River County also banded together to gain Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s stamp of approval for a tribal gambling casino in Cascade Locks. She said that united voice was instrumental in getting the top leader in the state to agree that the casino should be built in a willing community. York and other government officials wanted to prevent the gaming facility from being constructed on eligible land owned by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs just east of Hood River. That proposal had drawn intense opposition from both residents and the business community.

“I’m not afraid to take on any issue that’s important to my constituents,” said York. “I just roll up my sleeves to get in there and do the work that is necessary to get the job done.”

During her tenure as a County Commissioner, York has served on the board of directors for numerous agencies. One of her notable achievements was an appointment to the Brand Oregon Advisory Board by Kulongoski. York was able to help launch a statewide marketing movement for agricultural and other “homegrown” products.

York has owned and operated Gorge Publishing, Inc., with husband Peter Fotheringham for 25 years. She said managing the firm that promotes local tourism in several publications and serving in an elected office at the same time has honed her organizational skills. Plus she can add the perspective of a small business owner to her public service.

“I’ve been effective on the board at expressing Hood River County’s concerns and I think that I can be equally effective at the state level,” said York.

She plans to release details about her political platform for the 2006 election within the next few weeks. York acknowledges that the campaign trail will be long since District 26 includes not only all of Hood River County, but portions of Clackamas and Multnomah counties as well.

However, she is willing to forego some of her off-time outdoor pursuits — cycling, hiking, windsurfing and skiing — next year for the opportunity to change the way that Salem does business.

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