The race for State Representative in House District 54—which encompasses most of the city of Bend—is an interesting battle between incumbent Republican Knute Buehler and Democrat challenger Gena Goodman-Campbell. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district by about 7 percent, but up to one-fourth of registered voters in the district belong to no party and about 7 percent are registered independents. One might think that works in favor of Goodman-Campbell, a progressive Democrat who is concerned about key issues facing Bend such as affordable housing and higher wages.
But, Buehler, in his one term in office, has established a strong reputation as a moderate who has gained much respect working across the aisle. And, in some key cases, he has broken ranks with his Republican party to vote alongside Democrats, establishing a sense of independence.
With his background as a physician, he led the way for a bipartisan agreement that provides women in Oregon access to safe, over-the-counter birth control. He also passed a new law allowing the terminally ill to access experimental treatments.
Following the Kitzhaber-Hayes public corruption scandal in which the governor resigned, Buehler led a successful effort to protect government whistle blowers. And, he broke with most Republicans to vote against coal in favor of cleaner forms of energy, including solar, wind, and biomass.
Goodman-Campbell is well regarded in conservation circles. She works for the Oregon Natural Desert Association, ONDA, where she has led successful efforts to create wilderness areas like the Badlands Wilderness east of Bend. She is a strong proponent of protecting the Owyhee Canyonlands—while Buehler thinks there should be more collaboration with local interests in Malheur County who are solidly opposed to a wilderness or National Monument designation to protect up to 2.5 million acres in the region.
While Goodman-Campbell has a solid future ahead of her, Buehler has much deeper experience in both private and public sector service which is of value to Central Oregonians. No politician is perfect. While not supporting Democrat causes like the minimum wage hike the legislature passed and while opposing Measure 97, the gross receipts tax on this fall's ballot that many Democrats favor, he has clearly demonstrated he has an independent mind that reaches into both sides of the aisle to seek common solutions.
When voting for a candidate we are basically hiring someone. Buehler has broad experience in working with diverse viewpoints and he gets things done. Goodman-Campbell doesn't have the rich background of experience that Buehler has—yet. We have no doubt she will, and we encourage her to aim for other local offices to facilitate that. Knute Buehler has that experience now in both the public and private sector—and the courage to break from his party on key issues. The Source Weekly endorses Buehler for re-election, with a nod of encouragement to Goodman-Campbell who has much potential for public service.
Don't miss the next installment of the Bend Chamber's "What's Brewing" election series between County Commissioner candidates Alan Unger and Phil Henderson, with the Source Weekly's publisher Aaron Switzer moderating.
Tuesday, Oct. 11, 5-7pm at the Deschutes Brewery Public House.