By KIRBY NEUMANN-REA
News staff writer
April 1, 2006
Shunning the podium, all four Democratic candidates for the Second Congressional District presented a unified front in a recent Hood River appearance:
While their degrees of civic involvement and activism vary widely, they share a common goal: Oust Greg Walden. Any of us will do, was the message from Chuck Blocker of Baker City, Dan Davis of Jacksonville, Scott Silver of Bend and Carol Voisin of Medford. One of the four will advance beyond the May 16 Primary Election to face Walden, a Hood River Republican.
Silver, an environmental activist, expressed it this way:
“My top priority is to take back the House of Representatives,” he said.
“Some people tell me ‘Thank you,’ others say, ‘It can’t be done; you’re crazy.’ Well, it can be done.”
They brought their case to an audience of about 30 people — mostly fellow Democrats — on March 18 at Hood River County Library.
None was concerned with the large amount of campaign money Walden possesses — more than $800,000.
“I will show and demonstrate I can speak the truth to power, and the facts about what is hurting things in Oregon,” said Voisin, who teaches at Southern Oregon University.
Butcher, a contractor, said he will campaign “$25 to $50 at a time. That’ll do. It’ll have to do, because then I owe the people. I’ll put a lot of miles on that yellow truck parked outside.”
Silver said that to win, “For every Democrat voting for me it’ll take one independent or GOP. There are issues that bind us, the economy is our commonality. Our interests are the same.”
“He’s got a lot of money,” said Davis, who owns an alternative fuels company. “I don’t know where it came from. That worries me. I will talk to people, and listen to people. I want to hear and learn.”
All four advocate withdrawal from Iraq within four to six months, all four support a woman’s right to choose abortion, and all gave grudging support of the proposed Mt. Hood Wilderness Plan put forth by Walden and his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Earl Blumenauer.
Where they differed included the idea of a Warm Springs casino in the Gorge, with Butcher and Davis averring to tribal rights and Silver and Voisin outright opposing a Gorge casino.
“The tribes are free to do what they want with their own land,” Butcher said. “The real problem is differences in laws. Bars can have video poker but Indians don’t have a casino. What’s wrong with that picture? Why have that?”
Silver called gambling “a ridiculous way to rely on revenue generation.”
“I’m no fan of gambling,” Silver said. “But the issue of concern is: Are tribes allowed to have casinos on land they do not own?”
Davis said he has a family member who married into a southeastern U.S. tribe, and he called that casino “good for the tribe members but not good for the poor,” and admitted he needs to further research the issue.
Voisin said, “Gambling is a disease in our culture. More gambling is hurting people, hurting the poor. Tribes are governments. I’d like to encourage tribes to invest in renewable energy and other ways to earn money for their people.”
A Closer Look
Carol Voisin said, “All politics is local.
“I’ve been involved in local politics all my life,” she said, referring to experience in organizing local campaigns and volunteering for League of Women Voters.
“My vision is based on values. If anyone tells you we don’t have values, we do. Democrats have values — American values: Be ethical and encourage others to do the same; education — the system needs reforming.
“People have a right to efficient health care and a job that pays them what they are worth.”
“Our country is vulnerable,” she said. “We are really vulnerable, and in new ways; because of the Bush administration policies, and Greg Walden, who has voted consistently with the Bush Administration.
“It’s difficult to think about how vulnerable we are: We have a $9 trillion deficit, half of it to China and Saudi Arabia.”
Voisin repeatedly touched on the need for America to turn more to renewable forms of energy.
“We need to fast-track research and development of renewable fuels and a renewable energy policy. The national debt needs to be reduced, by becoming independent of Middle Eastern oil.
“We need a change. I’m the candidate who can change things,” she said.
Dan Davis called himself an “outraged, angered citizen,” saying the Republicans have “the longest continual track record of failure, incompetence and corruption. I’m not going to stand for it and you shouldn’t either.
“Greg Walden has voted consistently with the administration and against the interests of the Second District.
“I was raised in Missouri in a blue collar family from Independence and Liberty. I’m good with that,” Davis said. He claims he had a frugal background, but was “never deprived.”
He was wounded in Vietnam and learned to speak Vietnamese while working as an advisor helping villagers rebuild their homes.
He went to work in management for General Electric, moved to affordable residential construction.
“It is really important for us to defeat (Walden), and take back the House. He is a very nice man. Being a nice guy isn’t good enough,” Davis said. “It takes more than a nice guy to build up the country.
“We need Homeland Security that’s true homeland security, guarding ports, nuclear facilities and chemical plants, which is not being done. We need to bring the troops home and we need to make FEMA independent, like it used to be, and was known as an efficient operation. We need to let teachers get back to teaching, not federally mandated tests.
“Alternative energy is something we need to protect our national security.”
Scott Silver decried what he called the “corporate nature of American economy” and the “Disneyification” of the wilderness areas. In his work with the nonprofit public lands organization Wild Wilderness, Silver has led opposition to fee programs for forest uses.
“This has changed the nature of community; citizens are being turned into customers.” He said this is part of a greater privatization of the United States. He claims that in 1996, when he started working on the issue, he was the only one doing so, and he now works with a network of organizations that includes equestrians, hikers, and snowmobilers, and has worked with the GOP on the issue, and on legislation in the U.S. House.
‘The work I’ve done in Oregon has been endorsed by all our Democratic legislators. I am not just an activist.” His business background dates 30 years when he became a biochemist, then lab technician and moved up to lead scientist and group leader for fuel alcohol research.
“I bring a background of activism, driven from within and a desire to do things right and a business background based on getting results, making a profit, and looking at things rationally.”
Silver sees a backlash against Greg Walden in the current political climate.
“To defeat Greg Walden will take the right candidate, with lots of cooperation and skill, and with a business background. I can do this.”
Chuck Butcher, a homebuilder, said, “I like a straightforward environment to work in.”
He quit being a college student and became a blue collar worker because he couldn’t stand the politics of academia.
“You want to vote for plutocrats, who are tied into the military-industrial complex? The poorest district in Oregon is what we have,” Butcher said.
“I pay my guys better than most outfits in my field, but dollar for dollar they’re making about what I made 20 years ago. Tax breaks on the top one percent of the bracket, and the budget is being balanced on your backs. And there’s no money for rural hospitals, and food stamps. Come on!”
Butcher added, “Greg Walden has got to go, and we need a new approach. How about someone who looks like you and talks like you?”