Letters to the Editor for October 17

Follow money

My wife just got a letter from Greg Walden talking about how much he’s done for Oregonians and their health care. I know how much he’s done.

As the powerful chair of the Ways and Means committee, he has led Congressional efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. I’ll never forget the picture of him behind Trump when they were celebrating the House passage of Repeal and Replace.

Unlike him, we are self-employed and self-insured. Our premium went up last year while our coverage declined, and when we talked to Regence about it, we were told that it was due to the instability of the insurance market caused by Congress. I am waiting for the same thing to happen this year.

Plus, he sent a self-congratulatory letter during an election at tax payer expense! How much of our money did he spend doing that?

So Greg, I’ve voted for you in the past, but this is it. You say you are working for Oregonians … sorry, I don’t buy it. Last I checked, 80 percent of your campaign support comes from out of district, and a lot of it comes from insurance PACs and drug company PACs*. Most people work for the people who pay them.

Mr. Walden is following the money, I choose not to. I’m voting for Jamie McLeod Skinner, who isn’t supported by PACs and who’s spending time with everyone in my district, not just the people who agree with her (*Center for Responsive Politics, tinyurl.com/walden2018).

Greg Crafts

Hood River

Vote Blackburn

During my 10 years as a Hood River city councilor, I had the pleasure of working with Paul Blackburn; first when he was a counselor and then after he was elected mayor.

Paul is engaged, highly competent and cares about representing and listening to the entire city, not just the interests of a few. He is always looking out for the long-term health of the city: From its fiscal sustainability, to public safety, to its affordable housing crisis. Paul has clearly articulated plans for our city and is always looking ahead years down the road and looking at the big picture from 10,000 feet.

Contrast this with his opponent, who, after she was elected to her second term as a city councilor in 2015, was asked by the Hood River News what was next in terms of challenges and chief tasks ahead for city council. Her reply was nebulous: “We’re going to find out. We’ll be working on a few things. It’ll be a surprise.”

On housing, Paul’s opponent voted against Hood River’s common-sense regulations on investor-owned short-term rentals, which have caused increased housing prices, decreased housing availability, and have adversely affected neighborhood livability nationwide. Fortunately, Paul voted for these regulations, as did the majority of council (as did six out of seven planning commissioners), joining hundreds of cities across the country with similar rules. And the county is soon to follow with similar regulations.

Please join me in voting for Paul Blackburn for mayor so that we can continue the progress we’ve made as a city since he was first elected.

Laurent Picard

Hood River

City picks

Vote Blackburn, Metta, Sheahan, Counihan and Haynie. Yes, I know. Four candidates for three seats. Please read on ... Paul Blackburn is up for re-election as Mayor, having done a fine job for the City, especially with regards to more attainable housing for the people who work, and live in Hood River, especially the Latino community. He deserves another term.

Jessica Metta is the driving force behind one of the region’s most successful initiatives, the Gorge Tech Alliance, bringing technology and STEM education into our schools. She is a collaborator, and a “do-er,” and will be a welcome addition to the council

Joe Sheahan works in the hospitality industry and is well connected to local workers and their issues. Hood River is a rural community, and wages relative to housing are low. Joe understands these pressures and provides a workers viewpoint on the council.

Tim Counihan, far from stepping back after he missed being seated last time, has joined city governance and is now on city planning commission. He has logged the time needed to become conversant in city budget issues. People who give more than they take are needed in this day and age, and Tim is one of those people.

Erick Haynie has proven over and over again his commitment to our community through his public service and volunteerism. While he and I may disagree on some things, Erick is, above all, fair. I can be assured he will pause, listen to constituent concerns and, most of all, consider them in his deliberations. His wisdom and experience would provide council with a refreshing viewpoint. I’ve known each of these people personally and watched each of them work hard to make Hood River better for all of its residents, not just a narrow interest or economic group. Whomever you choose, please give due consideration to these fine candidates.

Maui Mayer

Hood River

Not safe

All people want to feel safe and secure. “Societal safety and security” is one of the main criteria used in periodic assessment of different countries’ peacefulness, stability, and happiness. The 2018 index compiled by the international think-tank Institute for Economics and Peace ranks the U.S. 121st out of 163 countries, in part because of our current low level of societal safety and security.

It’s always shocking to me when the U.S. fails to be in the top ranks of anything. We have so many assets — natural resources, technology, wealth, diversity, employment, infrastructure, education. But truthfully, I can see the current lack of “societal safety and security.” And I can feel it, as do many others.

This election season is a great demonstration. Our safety, security and well -being are on the line! Walden and his fellow Republicans in Congress have worked hard to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), proposing disastrous full-scale repeals and, when those failed, chipping away at the ACA piece by piece.

Without a change in Congress in November, it’s likely the Republicans will repeal the ACA, causing tens of millions of Americans to lose health insurance and eliminating protections for those with pre-existing conditions. The impact on rural areas such as eastern Oregon will be particularly severe. Without a change in November, Greg Walden will help the Republicans repeal the ACA.

Republicans in Congress have also been clear about their desire to slash Social Security and Medicare after the elections. Rep. Steve Stivers, chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, stated recently the government needs to cut spending on social programs, including Social Security and Medicare, because of the now gigantic federal deficit. The largest part of that deficit is due to the tax cuts for the rich passed by Walden and friends last year.

No, I’m not feeling safe and secure, and few of us are. Walden has undermined our safety and security with damaging policies by consistently voting against our needs. Leaving him in office will bring more of the same. I’m voting for Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

Steven Castles


Need leaders

We need collaborators, not isolators.

An employer does not ask an applicant’s political affiliation, they look to see if the person is qualified for the job and a good fit for their team. Hood River citizens should do the same.

We should not be wasting valuable energy engaging on issues that won’t be decided at the city level of government. We need to focus on tangible issues that can have a real and positive impact on our local quality of life.

We need to build bridges of cooperation with other local governments; neighboring cities, county and port to find lasting solutions to important issues facing our community. We need open channels of communication with local entities. This go it alone style of our current leadership is not the way for our community to operate. From the river to the mountain, we are all in this together and need to emphasize collaboration in order to be successful.

We need people willing to ask questions, engage, research and utilize their skill sets to keep our city thriving. We need a team willing to look outside of our bubble and think more regionally. Susan Johnson is a nurse, which requires her to quickly assess a situation and figure out the priorities of what is needed. She looks to her team for support and listens. She will engage with everyone and wants them to be a part of the process. Erick Haynie is an attorney and knows how to work within the parameters of the law and legislative process — a true asset to this town. Brian Towey is a business owner and coach and is calculated in his decision making process and he works with people to bring out their best. Jim Klaas has worked in design and outdoor sporting goods, and has held coaching and volunteer positions. He knows firsthand the struggles of our local businesses and groups and can support new leadership with his passion for thinking outside the box to get things done.

“A humble leader listens with the intent of understanding rather than responding.” — Ron Potter

Kristi Chapman

Hood River

One more time

For the first time in nearly two decades, Oregon’s Second Congressional District is being viably contested. The recent debate between incumbent Greg Walden (R-OR2) and challenger McLeod-Skinner was thus much needed.

Many viewers were no doubt already committed to one or the other candidate. Others, hopefully, were still uncommitted. Whoever listened with an open mind benefitted from the exposure to two drastically different candidates.

I have made my choice long ago, for reasons that I have explained openly. But I am a non-affiliated voter, who believes in listening to all sides of the political divide. And what I witnessed was a substantive exchange of ideas, between a 20-year veteran and a challenger with potential for important and lasting political service. At times, Walden reminded us why many in the District have voted for him over the years. But McLeod-Skinner consistently reminded us why Walden’s recent record must be challenged for the greater good. The debate reflected the candidates’ contrasting styles, experiences and visions for district, country, humanity and Earth’s sustainability. They both seem to love our country, but they express that love in dramatically different ways.

Which way we choose in November matters. Regardless of our pre-conceived notions, we owe ourselves to listen to both candidates. Only then will our vote be fully informed.

Which makes it extremely unfortunate that this was the only debate between Walden and McLeod-Skinner. Their differences — aired, as they were, in a civil and thoughtful manner — deserved a longer debate, with opportunity for added depth and broader scope. Congressman Walden: Would you reconsider? Would you debate Jamie at least once more? No matter who wins the upcoming election, citizens across the district would be the real winners. As would democracy!

Antonio Baptista


GOP hypocrisy

In a recent display of tribalism, a Republican letter writer to this paper invoked the Kavanaugh hearings to impugn all Democrats, citing among other things the old adage, “Every man is innocent until proven guilty.”

Methinks he doth protest too much on behalf of his party. Perhaps he meant the phrase literally, as applying to every man, but not every woman. One only has to turn to the Republican National Convention, where Governor Chris Christie lead the entire crowd in the raucous chant, “Lock her up, lock her up,” referring then, of course, to Secretary and Senator Hillary Clinton. In fact, the party leader, President Trump, invokes this chant at almost every one of his myriad rallies to this day. And from what I can see, the crowd quite enjoys it.

All the while, not one single legal charge has been supported against her. Apparently, they do not believe in this same presumption of innocence as it applies to her, or women in general. President Trump now also uses it for Senator Diane Feinstein at his rallies, to the same joyous reception.

Jennifer Ouzonian

Hood River

Vote is voice

It is unfortunate that many people say, “I don’t vote” or “I’m not political.” Voter turnout in Oregon for the May 2018 primary was 34 percent; the 2016 presidential election reached 68 percent. Does that mean people who don’t vote would rather someone else make their decisions? Or does it mean they don’t think their vote matters? Or maybe there isn’t a suitable candidate to vote for?

Guess what? There is a group of people who do care and pay attention. The 1 percent, corporations, lobbyists and Political Action Committees (PACs).

Money and influence in politics means we only have the power of our vote to make our voices heard. When people vote, the power of the people is stronger than the people in power.

Who are the people in power? School board members, city council members, county commissioners, state house senator and representative, our two U.S. Senators and our representative in Congress. On Nov. 6, we will be choosing our next representative in Congress.

Our current representative, Greg Walden, is a top recipient of PAC contributions, according to Open Secrets. In the current campaign, he has received over $4 million in major contributions from commercial TV and radio stations, electric utilities, medical services, devices and supplies, medical products and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Who does Walden represent? The 1 percent, the PACs, the lobbyists?

Guess what? We are fortunate in Second District to have a viable candidate to contest 20-year incumbent Walden, the Democratic nominee, Jamie McLeod-Skinner. Contributions to the McLeod-Skinner campaign have reached almost $1 million dollars, with the average contribution of $97, and $0 in PAC money.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner’s message is clear. She is loyal to the communities in District 2, not corporations. On her website and in the Voters’ Pamphlet, you can see how her focus on community values translates into a representative in Congress who will work for us. If you really want your vote to matter and your voice to be heard, vote for Jamie McLeod-Skinner to represent you in Congress.

Your vote is your voice. Vote.

Beverly Sherrill

The Dalles

Cost of living

Like many of you, I’m doing my homework so I can make an informed decision about who to vote for this November. I found the recent issue survey in the Sandy Post (Sept. 19) to be especially helpful in deciding who to support for state representative in House District 52.

Candidates Jeff Helfrich and his opponent answered questions about a variety of issues. Their answers to which ballot measures they support in November were especially interesting. Ballot Measure 103 will protect grocery sales in Oregon from taxes and Measure 104 ensures that the legislature must have the support of at least three-fifths’ majority to raise revenues via taxes and fees. Jeff Helfrich stated that he supports both 103 and 104. The opponent says they are opposed to both measures.

They said that the state needs the flexibility to raise more revenue. I find this very concerning. The other candidate has said, in other settings during this campaign, that they also strongly supported Measure 97, the gross receipts tax measure that was overwhelmingly defeated by Oregon voters. Jeff’s opponent has said the legislature should consider taking another look at it. If the candidate running against Jeff Helfrich is elected, they would encourage the legislature to pass not just taxes on groceries, but a gross receipts tax on all sales in the state.

This is very concerning and it tells me that my family simply can’t afford Mr. Helfrich’s opponent as state representative. Our cost of living is already high enough. I’ll be voting for Jeff Helfrich and encourage you to as well.

Local resident, small business owner and concerned citizen.

Loran Ayles

Hood River

Reitz, Williams

“If you want to learn about the health of a population, look at the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the places where they live.” — Hippocrates, fifth century BCE.

These words of one of the ancient pillars of medicine ring as true today as they did 2,500 years ago. Our health as individuals and as a society is only as good as the earth that sustains us. Solid research evidence now supports what we sense intuitively — that access to nature, a healthy environment, adequate supplies of clean water, and minimizing the human footprint on the earth, are all essential and interrelated conditions for our health and well-being. We are fortunate that two candidates for the Oregon legislature are committed to a healthy environment and will work for public policies to enhance the livability of our state for all Oregonians.

Chrissy Reitz, candidate for Senate District 26, understands what is at stake in the health of our planet and our region. Specifically, she is committed to public policies that protect farm and forest lands while preserving their economic viability. She will support the Clean Energy Jobs Bill, which will cap the overall level of greenhouse gases emitted by large polluters and reinvest dollars into clean energy and jobs to benefit Oregonians.

Anna Williams, candidate for House District 52, is another champion for environmental protection who deserves our vote. She is passionate about protecting our air, water, and natural resources for future generations.

Anna understands that a healthy environment is vital for a healthy economy and public health. Specifically, she will support the Clean Energy Jobs Bill, she will promote regional recycling and waste reduction strategies, and she will work for policies that address climate change.

Both of these candidates are articulate, have the interpersonal skills to work collaboratively with other legislators, and have the vision that looks way beyond the next election cycle to the well-being of our planet and of Oregonians in the generations to come.

John F. Christensen


For Reitz

Electing more qualified women has always been important to me. From the White House to the State House in Salem to the Hood River School Board, we need more women who understand what women are facing at home, in the workplace, and in classrooms.

If elected, Senator Chrissy Reitz can bring that perspective into the legislature.

I am supporting her because I want a lawmaker who shares my priorities for children, healthcare, education and our environment, and who knows that many of our families need support. Chrissy Reitz is a former neonatal nurse, School Board chair, and mother here in Hood River. She is qualified for the job because of her education and experiences, and she shares my common values for families and the environment. I have heard her speak and share her ideas for our future in Oregon. Chrissy has my vote.

Sheila Shearer

Hood River

Check record

During the recent debate in Bend between Congressman Greg Walden and Jamie McLeod-Skinner, Walden claimed one of his accomplishments is bringing down the cost of pharmaceuticals. Have you seen the price of your meds go down recently? Me neither. And given Walden’s financial support from the pharmaceutical industry (“Big Pharma”) and his consistent voting record in its favor, it’s not likely those costs will be coming down anytime soon.

Walden’s support from Big Pharma is impressive — $1,059,595 over the course of his career, with greatly escalating amounts over the last three years. That kind of money talks — and it’s supposed to. The result is seen in Walden’s voting record:

He voted against a bill to allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to lower prices (H.R. 4).

He voted three times against allowing importation of FDA-approved prescription drugs from FDA-approved facilities in other countries (H.R. 3161, H.R. 2427, H.R. 2673).

He voted against consideration of an amendment lowering out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors (H.R. 5).

He voted against allowing drug price negotiations within Medicare Part D (H.R. 4).

He voted for eliminating the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which is tasked with developing proposals to reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending (H.R. 3354).

Walden should be ashamed of these votes that benefit corporate donors rather than his constituents, and he should be ashamed to stand in front of us and claim to be working to lower drug prices.

We’ll do better with honesty and a commitment to work for District 2 constituents rather than corporate donors. We’ll do better with Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

Rhonda Starling



I was startled to hear our Congressman claim credit for legislation continuing the Children’s Insurance Plan (CHIP) in his recent debate with challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner. In fact, he has a record of opposing funding for the program. Congressman Walden chairs the committee responsible for health, but allowed the funding for CHIP to expire last year, sending states scrambling to find the resources to continue care for children and pregnant women.

In effect, Rep. Walden and his colleagues tried to use children’s health as a bargaining chip to get corporate tax breaks and other legislation passed. Threatening the health of children in exchange for legislative concessions looks a lot like the very worst kind of extortion.

Public concern — indeed, outrage — about these tactics resulted in a decision by Congressional leadership to avoid future controversy over children’s health and legislation was enacted last January to authorize CHIP for six years. This was such a good idea that, one month later, Congress extended authorization for an additional four years.

Also in January this past year, the RAISE — Family Caregivers Act was passed. I wrote to the editor thanking Rep. Walden for co-sponsoring this legislation. No funding was attached, and the development of a report and plan to help Family Caregivers had to come from money appropriated for other purposes. An Advisory Committee report is due in a year from passage.

Sadly, no Advisory Committee has yet been established. Passage of the Act seems to have been an empty gesture. Rep. Walden appears more interested in repealing health care than in replacing or improving it.

Friends tell me that they remember when Greg Walden really worked hard for his constituents. It looks like he still does, but his constituents have changed; they are no longer the voters and residents of his district. Mr. Walden’s constituents have become the fat-cats, insurance companies, media monopolies and energy giants that send him money.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner will work to assure adequate health care for children, the elderly, and families. Vote in November.

Richard Withers

Hood River

The right stuff

I’m so glad to have a strong, capable, assertive candidate to run against Greg Walden in our district. Mr. Walden has been in office for 20 years, and instead of getting better and more in-tune with his constituents over time, he has become an industry shill who consistently chooses to advocate for the wishes of his corporate donors (i.e. payers) instead of for our needs.

By contrast, Jamie McLeod-Skinner is not pushing a corporate agenda. She doesn’t accept contributions from PACs, and she clearly demonstrates her commitment to actual people and their communities on her wide travels throughout the district.

Her training and experience also make her a great candidate for the job. She has degrees in civil engineering, law (with a focus on water and natural resources), and regional planning. Her public service experience includes working as an environmental planner for the Santa Clara Valley Water District for five years, and as city councilwoman there for eight years. During that period, she received multiple awards for her service. Jamie graduated from high school in Ashland and returned for law school at University of Oregon. She worked for the Army Corps of Engineers on Klamath water rights and as a city manager. Jamie has deep roots in Oregon, with multi-generational family living throughout the district.

Finally, we have an experienced, highly credible challenger to get Mr. Walden out of office and replace him with someone who actually wants to represent us! Someone who will listen to OUR needs.

Vote in our favor. I encourage you to vote for Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

Debbie Zoe Kelly

Hood River

For Johnson

The Hood River News deserves thanks for its Oct. 3 editorial suggesting a reasonable alternative to the proposed sale of Morrison Park for $1 for housing. The editorial makes a case for development instead of low-income housing on an alternative site now used by ODOT. There is no reason to place parks and low-income housing in conflict. Most city residents support both. The ODOT site offers a sensible win-win solution.

Voters in the upcoming election may want to know that there is only one mayoral candidate who supported Morrison Park and cast her vote last year to protect it from development: Susan Johnson. There is only one mayoral candidate who opposes the proposed $1 sale of Morrison Park for development: Susan Johnson.

If we as a community truly care about protecting the city’s parks and open spaces rather than giving their acres away for nothing to a developer, our choice for mayor should be clear: Susan Johnson. That’s another win-win.

Susan Crowley

Hood River

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