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Candidates’ wives meet, muse on political lifestyle

By RAELYNN RICARTE

News staff writer

October 4, 2006

Two wives of high-profile political figures spent an afternoon together in Hood River on Friday — and shared a few glimpses into their unusual lifestyles.

“I’ve had people come up to me in the grocery store and tell me that I need a new hairstyle,” said Lynn Hume Saxton.

Her husband Ron, a Republican, is hoping to best Gov. Ted Kulongoski in the Nov. 7 general election.

Mylene Walden, who lives in Hood River and arranged the Gorge tour, is a veteran political wife. Her husband, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, entered state politics as the press secretary and then chief of staff for former Rep. Denny Smith (R-Ore.) in 1981. He was then elected to serve in the House and Senate from 1989 to 1997. He became the federal representative of the 2nd District in 1998. Walden is currently being challenged for his seat by Carol Voisin of Ashland, who teaches ethics and critical thinking at Southern Oregon University.

“Greg doesn’t get out off the hook for doing home chores because he’s a Congressman. I still give him a list (which most recently included replacing a leaky faucet),” said Mylene.

After the two Republican women completed a tour of Duckwall-Pooley Fruit in Odell, they talked briefly about the busy pace maintained by a political family.

When Greg is back in Washington, D.C., or on a visit to one of the 20 counties under his watch, Mylene keeps up with the activities of their son, Anthony, a junior at Hood River Valley High School. In addition, she oversees operations at Columbia Gorge Broadcasters.

“I keep the ordinary part of our life together so that we have a fairly normal existence,” she said.

Life for the Saxtons these days is anything but ordinary. The Portland couple is working full-time in their second bid for the gubernatorial role. In addition, he is an attorney who specializes in business law and she is the executive director for The Christie School. The agency based near Lake Oswego provides mental health programs for children and their families. Lynne said it is easier to campaign now that their son, Andy, is grown.

“It’s 24/7 right now but it’s going very well and that makes it fun and easy,” she said.

Saxton and Walden have learned not to take it personally when confronted by a person angry with some action taken by their husbands.

“I just listen and I figure that everyone should have an opportunity to have their say,” said Walden.

She and Saxton anticipate being exhausted by the time the Nov. 7 general election rolls around — but they remain energized out of a deep respect for the leadership shown by their husbands.

“Public service is really a tremendous family commitment,” said Saxton.

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