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Whatcha Doing, Candidate? 

Knute Buehler and Craig Wilhelm distinguish their campaigns for House District 54

In a recent Bend Chamber debate between House District 54 candidates Knute Buehler (R) and Craig Wilhelm (D), the doctor and the war veteran (respectively) found themselves in agreement on many of the issues. In an effort to help clarify the differences—and similarities—between the candidates, we asked each 10 political questions (and five fun ones) and gave them a clear directive. They were not to parrot campaign literature and they needed to stay at or fewer than 600 words (or risk the editor's red pen of wrath). Perhaps worth noting: Wilhelm's responses were exactly 600 words. Buehler's came in at more than 1,100 and, as such, have been edited for length. In the interest of maintaining the integrity of Buehler's responses, we aimed our cuts at anything that sounded like his campaign slogans, or went beyond the scope of the question.

KnuteBuehler

Knute Buehler

Source Weekly: Why did you decide to get into politics? What are your long-term political aspirations?

Knute Buehler: What motivates me is a desire to give back to the community and state I love and that has been generous to me. I'm also a policy-wonk. I enjoy the details of public policy, issues and ideas. My only ambition is to represent Bend with integrity and independence in the Oregon House.

SW: What three things do you most hope to accomplish if elected?

KB: 1) Help improve our schools. Better schools and a strong economy go hand-in-hand. 2) Help improve the climate for job creation. I'll work for policies that make it easier for existing businesses to grow and new ones to take root. 3) Reduce partisanship in our political process. I'll work across party lines to get things done, even if that means breaking with my own party.

SW: What are you doing right now in service of the issues you're most passionate about?

When the scandal erupted around veterans being denied or delayed health care, I worked with my colleagues at The Center medical clinic to make sure we qualified to serve patients.

As a part of my campaign, I'm visiting every school I will represent in HD 54 to learn first-hand from our local educators how the policies made in Salem impact our schools here in Bend.

We've started a "Beer Lovers" coalition as a fun way to draw attention to the importance of our local brewing industry to our city and state economy. Even though this industry creates hundreds of jobs locally and thousands across the state, each year politicians in Salem introduce bills to raise taxes on beer and brewers. I want Oregon beer to be known for how good it tastes and how many jobs it creates—not how much it can be taxed.

SW: How will you represent the district's fiscal interests in Salem?

KB: I favor keeping taxes limited and low because I believe that helps small businesses grow, create jobs and succeed. And when our economy is doing well, we have more income in government for things we all care about—schools, public safety, health care.

SW: Why should the voters trust you to represent their interests?

KB: I have a proven track record of putting policies and people ahead of partisan politics. In 2012, when I ran for Secretary of State against a well-known incumbent, most newspapers endorsed my candidacy. I recently announced endorsements from 28 local officials—Democrats and Republicans. I believe these kinds of endorsements are the best evidence that I will serve with independence and integrity.

SW: On what issue are you most conservative?

KB: Fiscal and budgetary issues

SW: On which are you most liberal?

KB: Social issues. I support a woman's right to choose and marriage equality.

SW: Why are you a Republican?

KB: Because I favor limited government and believe free enterprise creates more opportunities than bigger, more intrusive government.

SW: What is the single most significant difference between you and your opponent?

KB: Our length and depth of community involvement and my demonstrated record of political independence vs. his record as a partisan activist.

SW: What is your opponent's best quality?

KB: That he served our country in uniform.

SW: What's your take on the site of the OSU-Cascades expansion?

KB: A four-year university is essential to quality of life and transitioning Central Oregon to the economy of the 21st century. No location will be without some drawbacks. It is important that we are sensitive to the concerns expressed about the current proposed location and make the impact as limited as possible.

SW: Favorite politician—real and fictional?

KB: Real: Winston Churchill. Fictional: President Jed Bartlett (The West Wing)

SW: PBR or IPA?

KB: IPA

SW: Favorite mode of transportation?

KB: SUP

SW: Ayn Rand or Howard Zinn?

KB: Rand

SW: Rolling Stones or Beatles?

KB: Beatles

CraigWilhelm

Craig Wilhelm

Source Weekly: Why did you decide to get into politics? What are your long-term political aspirations?

Craig Wilhelm: Looking back upon my years of military service, I felt like I had a responsibility to put my skills to good use during a time when Bend needs it most. This position is my only political goal.

SW: What three things do you most hope to accomplish if elected?

CW: As a business owner, it's clear to me that we need to cut red tape and create more incentives to encourage small business to hire new employees and jumpstart our economy.

In terms of education, hiring teachers and reducing class sizes are two of the smartest investments we can make in Bend's future.

Finally, a big passion of mine is helping veterans get access to adequate healthcare and career opportunities when they come home.

SW: What are you doing right now in service of the issues you're most passionate about? 

CW: The Windy25 Memorial Fund is a project I started to honor my five soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice during a combat mission in Afghanistan. The Fund continues to raise money that goes directly to programs assisting families who have lost loved ones in combat, as a tribute to our Windy25 crew.

SW: How will you represent the district's fiscal interests in Salem?

CW: The skills I learned both as a commander in the military and as a small business owner allow me to understand fiscal responsibility and accountability from a unique perspective.

During my time as commander of the largest Chinook Helicopter Unit in the United States Army, with 19 aircraft each costing nearly $25 million apiece, I was responsible for budgeting and controlling all of the costs associated with operating a large organization with limited resources.

As a business owner, I've helped my company thrive during some very tough economic times by finding ways to do more with less, be more innovative, and make sure that every single dollar we invest in the business is delivering a significant return.

SW: Why should the voters trust you to represent their interests?

CW: I have led over 200 men and women into combat situations. I have also managed a small business through the recent economic downturn and became a more efficient business person and smarter leader because of it.

SW: On what issue are you most liberal?

CW: Politicians have no business playing games when it comes to women's healthcare.

SW: On which are you most conservative?

CW: Balanced budgets, fiscal responsibility.

SW: Why are you a Democrat?  

CW: From an early age I realized that the values and principles that define who I am as a person align with the Democratic Party. Supporting women's health care, doing everything we can to strengthen our public schools, and an emphasis on good paying jobs are the reasons I chose to be a Democrat.

SW: What is the single most significant difference between you and your opponent?  

CW: My proven leadership experience in both the Army and small business.

SW: What is your opponent's best quality?

CW: His commitment to his family.

SW: What's your take on the site of the OSU-Cascades expansion?

CW: Central Oregon deserves a world-class higher education option and now I think the most important issue is how best to integrate the university into the life and economy of this great community.

SW: Favorite politician—real and fictional?  

CW: Real: Winston Churchill. Fictional: Kevin Kline's character, Dave Kovic, in the movie Dave.

SW: PBR or IPA?  

CW: Any locally-brewed IPA.

SW: Favorite mode of transportation?  

CW: Flying—as the pilot, of course.

SW: Ayn Rand or Howard Zinn?  

CW: Howard Zinn.

SW: Rolling Stones or Beatles?  

CW: Beatles.  But, the Rolling Stones concert, Nuremburg, Germany, 1998, was incredible!

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