Letters to the Editor for October 27

Johnson’s real STR vote record

Thank you for the excellent article on the Hood River mayoral candidates in the Oct. 24 edition of the Hood River News. I found it to be a well-written and very illuminating piece on the candidates’ views and positions.

I am troubled, however, by the paper’s “correction” at the bottom of this article, in which Susan Johnson responded to my Oct. 17 letter to the editor. In my letter, I pointed out that: “Paul’s opponent (Johnson) 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.”

In her “clarification” printed at the end of the aforementioned article, Susan states that she “voted against STRs for investors.”

Susan’s assertion is simply not true.

City council had its final vote on the STR-regulation ordinance (Ordinance 2026) on Sept. 12, 2016. Written into this ordinance was a provision that phased out investor-owned STRs after a seven-year amortization period. Susan (along with Mark Zanmiller) voted against Ordinance 2026 at this meeting and this vote is clearly reflected in the meeting minutes, which are available for review on the city’s website. So Susan’s final vote on this matter was a vote FOR investor-owned STRs, not against them.

Susan is entitled to her opinion on STR regulations; she is not entitled to make up her own facts.

Laurent Picard

Hood River

Walden leads

I’d like to commend Congressman Greg Walden for his comprehensive work on the opioids crisis that is gripping our community in Oregon.

Walden’s bill, the Support for Patients and Communities Act, is the most significant bill to address a single drug crisis in history. It increases access to treatment for patients and families, especially by allowing more health professionals to prescribe medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and to bring more of those professionals to rural areas with student loan forgiveness incentives. And anyone who says he’s simply throwing more drugs at the problem is just using someone else’s talking points ... if you actually read the bill, there are several provisions that encourage and expand other aspects of integrated care, like inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, sober living and mental and behavioral health.

Greg is also leading the investigation into drug makers that fueled this crisis, using his position to increase transparency and accountability for Purdue Pharma and others who seemingly lied to doctors and patients about how addictive these drugs are.

It’s time to see that after 20 years in office, Congressman Walden is able to work on a bipartisan basis to get results on major initiatives like this one. He has my vote once again.

Donald Rose

Hood River

For veterans

As a Wasco County disabled Vietnam War veteran and a veteran counselor at the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) and in private practice for the last 30 years, I am voting for Jamie McLeod-Skinner. Here’s why.

Recently, Rep. Walden sponsored legislation for the VA to hire “scribes” to assist with doctor’s paperwork. This will be helpful, but it is a band-aid approach to a long-standing problem. There are currently about 1,400 unfilled VA doctor positions at VA hospitals, mostly because Walden and Republicans have refused to raise their salaries to competitive rates. We veterans need those positions filled!

An estimated 2,800,000 veterans in America live at or below poverty levels, and an estimated 12 percent, or 2,564,352, of homeless are veterans. These veterans depend on Medicaid and other federal programs. For the 2019 federal budget, the president, Walden and Republicans target cuts in Medicaid, Social Security Disability Benefits, food stamps and housing assistance programs. Walden has consistently voted against the Affordable Care Act and supported legislation that would have dismantled coverage for pre-existing conditions. This is important to us veterans because we know a lot about pre-existing conditions. During this same time, Walden accepted more than $200,000 from pharmaceutical companies.

Walden did not show courage and raise his voice in protest for us veterans when President Trump said John McCain was “not a war hero,” nor when the senator died and Trump approved the minimal two-days American flags at half-staff, nor again when Trump recently and most disrespectful to us veterans grabbed the American flag. The American flag is sacred. The flag is to be saluted and held gently with respect.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner stands for people, not profits. She has visited and listened to the voices in rural Oregon. Walden’s voting record shows that he more and more sides with big money. In the early years, Greg Walden worked more for us rural veterans, but less and less in the last years. Walden has changed.

We need to change Congress so that once again, we veterans are truly represented. I urge you to vote for Jamie.

Michael Stevens

Hood River

Local reality

I was extremely fortunate when I was searching for my home in Hood River in 2000. In 2000, small homes were readily available for less than $200,000.

Today, “affordable” homes come with barely any land, are 10 feet from your neighbor and start at $400,000. My wife and I would have to make a lot of sacrifices if we tried to buy our home in today’s market.

There is another option for working families in Hood River. It happens to be the project planned for Morrison Park. The park is far from a “green space.” It is a rarely used plot of land with scrub oaks, a few Frisbee golf holes, and plenty of beer cans and cigarette butts from young people hanging out.

The planned project will be managed by a non-profit housing authority and is expected to produce at least 70 truly affordable living spaces for working people. Money for the project is expected to come from state and federal grants earmarked for projects like this one. There are no big corporations coming to take over the town, or reap big profits from this venture.

I urge people to get involved with this reasonable solution to our local housing needs and support Mayor Paul Blackburn and the city council in this meaningful, humanitarian project.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Seniors can’t afford Walden

Greg Walden stated in a recent interview, “I know what Medicare meant to my parents, and will always work to strengthen it.” His voting record tells a different story, and it’s important for seniors to know it. Our healthcare is on the line in the November elections and more of Walden is going to be very harmful. Walden has:

Repeatedly voted for Republican budgets that would make large cuts to Medicare;

Voted to turn Medicaid, which many seniors rely upon to pay for care in long-term-care facilities, into a block grant program that would not cover most costs;

Voted 14 times to reopen the Medicare “donut hole,” which would cost seniors thousands more in out-of-pocket prescription costs;

Voted against allowing the government to negotiate directly with the pharma companies for better prices on drugs for Medicare Part D;

And voted five times against allowing prescription drugs to be imported from countries like Canada where they cost less.

Walden’s assault on drug prices for seniors has everything to do with serving his corporate donors. Big Pharma’s “donations” (i.e., payments for services) have topped $1 million over Walden’s career as “our” representative, making him the top recipient of Big Pharma money in the House of Representatives.

And Big Pharma is getting a lot for its money. In addition to keeping drug prices high, pharmaceutical companies were among the top beneficiaries of the TaxScam corporate tax cuts last year, clocking in at a whopping $42 billion tax cut — which GOP leaders have said will be paid for by cutting programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Seniors account for well over 20 percent of voters in our district. I’m a senior and am voting for Jamie McLeod-Skinner. She cares about seniors!

Cindy L. Allen

Hood River

Supports Blackburn

I have just returned from a trip and while I was gone, candidates for mayor and city council had posted signs on the vacation rentals and second homes in my neighborhood. My neighbors noticed it too, and we agreed that it is disingenuous to put up signs at homes where the owners don’t even live in Hood River.

This letter is to voice my support for Paul Blackburn for mayor. His leadership style is strong, committed, inclusive and knowledgeable.

An example is that the Westside Plan is getting attention in this council election, with some candidates asking why is it happening now and who pays for infrastructure. The land use plan for the Westside area has been around since 1983 and the city is now refining it as development shifts in that direction. The updated plan will layout updated street systems along with requirements for sewer, water and storm development. Development pays for infrastructure as it has with the subdivisions, commercial and industrial developments throughout the city. The city maintains the infrastructure.

Paul understands how this process operates and is committed to conduct open and transparent public hearings, just as he has for the past four years. I know because I worked with him on many plan and code updates.

It’s important to understand who you are voting for for city council and the chamber is having a candidate’s forum on Oct. 30 at the lower level of the Hood River Hotel from 5:30-8 p.m. Nate DeVol will be asking prepared questions.

Cindy Walbridge

Hood River

Vote Blackburn

Over the past four years, I have been continually impressed by the leadership of Hood River Mayor Paul Blackburn. He has shown time and time again his ability to listen to his constituents, recognize marginalized groups, advocate for affordable housing, reign in short-term rentals, work with different agencies and government groups, and show up to city council meetings. He volunteers his time to various projects and organizations around town, and seems to care deeply for this community. He’s shown he’s earned another two years in office; let’s make sure he gets that opportunity. Vote Paul Blackburn for mayor of Hood River.

Ben Mitchell

Hood River

Yes on 102

My name is Laura Noppenberger and I’m the executive director of Eastern Oregon Support Services Brokerage. Every day, I get the opportunity to work with people who experience a disability.

Increasingly over the last few years, one of the most challenging things we do has been to try to find the people we serve a safe place to call home that they can afford. That’s why I am urging you to vote yes on Measure 102. It is one piece of the puzzle we need to address the housing crisis that has impacted every corner of Oregon.

Measure 102 removes an outdated piece of our state’s constitution. Right now, local governments are allowed to issue bonds for affordable housing — but prohibited from working with affordable housing developers and nonprofits to build those homes. Current law requires local governments to own and control the housing built with the bonds, but not to use bond dollars to leverage other resources — like federal dollars — to build affordable housing.

Every year, Oregon leaves federal housing dollars un-spent because we don’t have local matching funds needed to unlock those federal resources. Measure 102 helps us unlock those resources, and puts them to good use to build more housing for seniors, for people who experience a disability and for our neighbors with low incomes.

For the people I serve, having an accessible home they can afford means everything — it means choice, dignity, stability and independence.

Let’s vote Yes on Measure 102 and start working to address our community’s housing needs.

Laura Noppenberger

Hood River


The time is now, it’s clear to see,

The time is now for Democracy.

It’s time to unseat those who kiss the ring

of the man who believes he’s been elected our king.

The women, the blacks, Natives, Hispanics,

The poor, our votes are all equal.

We can say, “No more!”

He tweets that we’re less than

We don’t mean a thing

But we are the ones

Who will let freedom ring.

Kerry Lucia

White Salmon

Letter to Blackburn

I would hope that the role of mayor, and each city council member, is to ensure a safe environment for the citizens who elect them. That is not what you are doing when you support a plan that radically changes Hood River’s zoning laws. Increased housing density puts everyone who lives or works here, or uses city services, in danger.

The new plan allows streets to be narrowed, built without sidewalks, with each dwelling required to have only one off-street parking spot.

And although fire regulations mandate access to every dwelling directly from the street, the proposal makes it possible to build multiple homes on a given lot away from the street. The safety ramifications of this are huge.

How do you expect snow plows to clear the roads? Anyone try to drive on May Street two winters ago? Since plows couldn’t access the Young Lane neighborhood due to the narrowed streets, people who live there parked on the thoroughfare. May Street was down to one lane in many spots due to the parked cars covered by drifts — dangerous driving for all.

The big California fires are now being called “urban fires” — damage was horrific due to congested housing and lax regulation. How are you expecting a fire truck to help when every new narrow street is choked with parked cars? When multiple homes on a small lot prevent the firefighters from getting their equipment near? Or, if a fire like Eagle Creek did sweep through the West Side, for people to safely exit the neighborhood?

I hope that the people of Hood River vote for Susan Johnson for mayor and for a city government that does it responsibly — with the safety of its citizens as its primary focus.

Nancy Houfek Brown

Hood River

Vote Helfrich

I was born in Hood River a little over 71 years ago, so I can attest to the fact that our sleepy little community has definitely changed. Most of the changes have been welcome and enjoyable, but some are very concerning. One of my greatest concerns is the high cost of living in Hood River.

As I study candidates on the ballot this November, I will be voting for candidates who support policies that will keep our communities affordable. As I’ve listened to Anna Williams on KIHR’s Mid-Columbia Today program and thoroughly read her webpage, it has become apparent to me that Anna is a very educated, articulate-speaking lady, and seems to be very nice. However, her stance on certain issues concerns me.

She appears to be a candidate who wants to solve problems through taxing her constituency. In her KIHR interview and webpage comments, Anna supports:

Measure 97, the gross receipts tax on sales that Oregon voters overwhelmingly rejected two years ago. In fact, she suggested having the legislature revisit the issue again away from the ballot box.

Having the legislature modify property tax limitations passed by Oregon votes, meaning the already high cost of housing could get much worse.

A state carbon tax, meaning we would pay more at the pump, and have higher heating and cooling bills.

Anna also opposes Measure 103 that will protect our groceries from being taxed.

When I add all of this up, it’s pretty clear to me. Electing Anna Williams and sending her to Salem, with her agenda, will definitely increase the tax burden on all of us.

That’s why I am supporting Jeff Helfrich for State Representative for District 52. Since he has been in office, Jeff has demonstrated to me that he doesn’t believe that the solution to all problems is higher taxes.

I encourage all voters in District 52 to join me in voting for Jeff.

Bob Level

Hood River

Vote for Metta

As you consider how to use your three votes for city council, give Jessica Metta a long look. You will find someone to admire; more importantly, you will find an open-minded person who is willing to listen hard to all sides of an issue.

Her work with MCEDD and involvement with the GTA (Gorge Tech Alliance) have given her insight into the myriad of challenges that confront small businesses in Hood River, from affordable housing to affordable daycare.

She is patient and deliberate, qualities that I want to see in our elected representatives as our community debates the difficult issues.

Jess Metta will be part of the solution.

Chip Dickinson

Hood River

CGOA shines

The Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association’s Sinfonietta orchestra and Voci Choir performed together last weekend to two sold-out houses at the beautiful Wy’east Performing Arts Center in Odell. What a show!

I am increasingly impressed by the superb quality of our local orchestra and Voci choir. And the community’s appreciation of the CGOA’s live performances — and the many other cultural events in our region’s towns — is inspiring. As the playwright Lee Hall said, “Whether you are a writer or an actor or a stage manager, you are trying to express the complications of life through a shared enterprise. And live performance shares that with an audience in a specific compact: The play is unfinished unless it has an audience, and they are as important as everyone else.”

Don’t miss the next two CGOA events: A swing dance (put on your dancing shoes) one night only, 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 17 at the Elks Lodge in Hood River; and the Down Home Christmas show, with the Sinfonietta, Voci and the June Bug Boys on Dec. 14 (7:30 p.m.) and Dec. 16 (2:30 p.m.) at the Hood River Middle School Auditorium.

The CGOA is red hot, so get your tickets early. Check out www.gorgeorchestra.org/current.

Tina Castañares


GOP in Wash.

I am proud of the fact that in Klickitat County, we have a slate of Republican candidates that have not had to resort to lies, slander, innuendo or half-truths about their opponents. Susan Hutcheson is looking forward to getting positive and impactive things done in the U.S. Senate with her conservative values and ability to work with everyone.

Jamie Herrera Beutler is personally responsible for keeping Life Flight in the Dallesport Airport. Gina Mosbrucker has the respect from both Democrats and Republicans in Olympia that has allowed her to get many of her bills assed through and on the books. Chris Corry has made every opportunity he could to take make himself available to his constituency, especially through parades and local events. He has the energy to work against all the oppressive taxes and fees legislated and endorsed by the current majority Democrats. These four candidates look to help the citizens of Klickitat at the state and federal levels by stopping increased taxation and laws instituted by the Democrats that have harmed and will harm our well-being by reducing our available income and rights to live freely.

Bob Songer has done an excellent job in initiating a neighborhood watch program throughout Klickitat County, supported by a volunteer Sheriff’s Posse.

This program helps make small communities safer for everyone, especially our children. David Sauter continually works to maintain a balanced budget for Klickitat county and he proactively advances the interests and needs of the county by getting new business to the area.

What a great team to have in elected office! We need to get out and vote and ensure that our voice in Klickitat County is heard in Olympia. Each of these Republican candidates will move forward for the betterment of our county. It is most important to vote for those who will truly look to uphold our constitutional rights, especially the Second Amendment.

Therese Leon


‘Legal’ thanks

There is so much media coverage on people entering this country illegally. What about the people who have or who are entering legally? As an American citizen, I want to thank the people who have or who are entering this country legally.

Thank you for respecting this country’s laws by entering legally. Thank you for pursuing your American Dream legally. Thank you.

Cynthia Elaine Mitchell

Cascade Locks

Walden the ‘Stooge’

Next time the air quality makes your eyes burn and your lungs ache, think of Trump’s stooge, Greg Walden.

Next time you, your neighbors or family members lose everything due to devastating healthcare bills, think of Trump’s stooge, Greg Walden.

Next time your kids come home from school frightened after participating in an active shooter drill, think of Trump’s stooge, Greg Walden.

Next time your heart breaks seeing families torn apart by agents of the United State government, think of Trump’s stooge, Greg Walden.

Next time you encounter prejudice, intolerance, distortion of the facts and a lack of common human decency, think of Trump’s stooge, Greg Walden.

Next time you encounter deaf ears and doubletalk from your district congressman, remember it was Trump’s stooge, Greg Walden.

It’s time to secure the future of our children, our country and our planet. It’s time our congressional representative has the integrity, courage and vision to stand up for what’s right.

It’s time to vote for Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

Eric Voigt

Hood River

Editor’s note: Merriam-Webster defines stooge as “one who plays a subordinate or compliant role to a principal.”

Williams is best choice

Anna Williams is the best choice for Oregon House District 52.

As an Oregonian who has spent more than 30 years appreciating, exploring and working to protect the beauty of the Columbia Gorge and Mount Hood Wilderness, I want to elect leaders who I can trust to keep those natural resources in the care of the people of Oregon and not special interests who would use them for their own profit.

Anna Williams has worked to stand up to corporate polluters, joining with our community to stop them from putting their profits ahead of the well-being of Oregonians and the natural resources that we share.

On the other hand, her opponent, our current state representative, Jeff Helfrich, has taken thousands of dollars in contributions from the Oregon Business & Industry coalition, JPMorgan Chase and Anheuser-Busch — corporations that have opposed paying their fair share of tax on their profits. How can we trust Helfrich to fight for the people when he’s taking the money of big business? We need a leader who will stand up to corporations and Anna Williams is the leader to do it. As an advocate for small businesses who has helped bring sustainable jobs to our community, Anna is committed to fostering a stronger economy that works for the people.

I trust her to fight for these same principles in Salem.

Richard Vetrone


Patriotism is not nationalism

Many people believe nationalism and patriotism are one and the same. They could not be more wrong. A nationalist is proud of their country, believe in their country but have a narrow view of what their country should be. Nationalists believe only people with same cultural background, language and ideals are to be tolerated, and are superior to all others. Patriots are proud of their country and believe in their country, but they also respect the ideals, customs and languages of others that are different from their own. Trump proudly proclaimed he is a “Nationalist.” We had other nationalists in history, most recently tyrants in Europe who began World War II. I for one am proud to be an enforcer of patriotism.

Ron Yamashita

Hood River

Williams will work for us

I’m writing to ask my neighbors in House District 52 to vote for Anna Williams for state representative. I met her a few weeks ago at a meet-and-greet and was very impressed with her desire to help the people in her community and her knowledge of how to do it.

I live with several chronic illnesses and need extra help to live independently. Thanks to a variety of programs, like affordable housing, home care services and Medicaid, I’m able to live a good and happy life as part of our community.

The funding for affordable housing, home care services and other care programs keeps people out of nursing homes and living independently at home. It may seem like a small thing, but that matters so much to seniors and people with disabilities. Isn’t that what you would want for yourself? For the people you love?

I’m voting for Anna Williams because she knows how much these services mean to people like me and she’s ready to fight for us in Salem.

If it wasn’t for the help I receive from my home care worker, I wouldn’t be able to go to the grocery store, keep my house clean or do my laundry. If it wasn’t for the affordable housing I live in, I would have to spend most of my income on rent. If it wasn’t for Medicaid, I would have to go without the healthcare treatments I need to live at home.

Karen Escobar

Hood River

Vote Johnson

I’m so excited that my friend, Susan Johnson, city councilman, EMT, fellow nurse/caregiver and our leader has stepped forward to run for mayor!

I’ve worked side-by-side with Susan Johnson and her wisdom, education, experience and decision making skills, as well as her straightforward, genuine concern for others, will make her our perfect leader. My husband, Darin Hepner, and I are proud to support Susan! Please join us in a move forward for the City of Hood River and vote Susan Johnson for mayor.

Tama Hepner

Hood River

Williams for House

One of the arguments against electing Democratic candidate Anna Williams as our next state representative is that she would give the Democrats a supermajority in the house.

While I have never been a fan of the supermajority rule, I’m even less of a fan of perpetual government gridlock. As things stand, unless one party actually has a supermajority, we will never have a fully functional state government here in Oregon.

The Democrats have an excellent candidate in Williams. She appears very capable. With the myriad of problems facing area voters today, why not take this opportunity and give functional government a try?

Let’s take away the legislature’s built-in excuse for their ongoing inability to deliver on the problems of the day. Let’s give the Democrats their “Supermajority” in the Oregon House with the expectation that they will start effectively addressing the many problems in need of governmental solutions.

Let’s elect Anna Williams as our next state representative, here in District 52.

Walt Trandum


Transportation candidates

I’d like to explain the angle from which our family views this impending city council election, and how that perspective urges us to vote. We designed our lives here to be 95 percent car-free, by finding work and housing close enough to reach by walking and biking. And we’re not alone, but many people who aspire to this lifestyle have legitimate concerns for their safety (or an inability to find local housing) that stop them from living it.

This city council election has the potential to have huge impacts on both of those issues — housing availability and alternative mobility options that are actually attractive to everyone.

And make no mistake: Even if you aren’t personally interested in biking to school, work and for groceries, you are almost certainly interested in everyone else doing it because one more bike at the bike rack means one more car parking spot open in front of Double Mountain.

All of this brings me to our pending city council election and the precious three open spots. In 2019, imperative changes to our Transportation System Plan and zoning will require critical systems thinking and planning so that the Westside Plan and other major projects incentivize walking, biking and transit. Toss in less traffic and more available parking spots, and you realize that getting more people to take anything but a car gets us all of the things we say we want.

Given that thoughtful transportation planning is absolutely critical to all the above, I would like to endorse the following candidates for city council:

Peter Cornelison — my partner in crime, who works tirelessly for our local community

Tim Counihan — a systems thinker who values sustainability

Jessica Metta — she has the transportation vision

Joe Sheahan — for his perspective on affordable housing

Megan Ramey

Hood River

Towey for council

Are you concerned about Morrison Park, the Westside Plan and that the theory of change won’t lead to desired outcomes on recent decisions made by council? Then I urge you to vote for Brian Towey. He’s as communicative, inclusive and methodical a candidate for city council as you can get; super bright, straight up, gutsy, grounded, and his ideas on issues that matter to local citizens make a ton of sense.

Check him out at www.briantoweyforhoodriver.com.

Becca Sanders, Ph.D.

Hood River

Support for Williams, Reitz

A few weeks ago, I attended a meet-and-greet in Hood River with Anna Williams, who is running for state representative in House District 52, and Chrissy Rietz, who is running for senator in Senate District 26. As a homecare worker who cares for several clients, who all depend on a variety of supports and services to maintain their quality of life and independence, I was very impressed with both Anna and Chrissy.

They were the first politicians I’ve ever talked to that made me feel like they were speaking from the heart and not just saying what we wanted to hear and will follow through once they’re elected. They truly understand how important care work is.

Each and every one of us will need to be cared for or will be called on to care for others at some point in our lives. All care work — whether it’s done by paid caregivers or unpaid care by family members — is valuable because the people on both sides of the equation matter.

Caring for people doesn’t just happen at home, hospitals and day care centers. We show we care — we show our values — through the people we elect to represent us and the laws they pass.

We show we care about seniors, children and families, veterans, people with disabilities, the poor and the sick by voting for people who want to raise us all up, not put corporations and the wealthy ahead of everyone else.

Nancy Finerty

The Dalles

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