When we interviewed Brian Lepore, we discovered a pragmatic, educated farmer and family man with a Ph.D. in soils science who cares deeply about his district and who's running because he feels rural Oregonians have been left behind. Something of a Renaissance man, he espouses progressive values, while also having the "dirt under his fingernails" that only a farmer can possess. He's committed to getting to know the people of his district—both the rural and suburban—and to listen to them to achieve solutions that don't favor one political ideology or another.
Cases in point: Lepore, like many rural and/or conservative residents, believes Oregon's Corporate Activities Tax could stand to be adjusted, sharing his concerns on its taxing of gross instead of net profits. Lepore supports Measure 114, the gun safety measure on the ballot this November, but he said he agrees that prospective gun owners should get training and permits, and had concerns about putting the discretion for those permits in the hands of law enforcement rather than a more neutral government body.
If there's a good reason to support incumbent E. Werner Reschke over Lepore in the race for House District 55, we wouldn't know what it is. Some candidates in recent races have a pattern of not showing up or not responding to media requests for interviews during the political season—a troubling trend that demonstrates both a lack of willingness to engage in important dialogues with their opponents, and in this case, an apparent disinterest in the many new voters who now make up part of the newly adjusted House District 55.
The House 55 district, which now encompasses parts of rural Deschutes County, Sunriver and also Klamath County, was redrawn during the redistricting process, and now includes many constituents who were part of other districts before this. Some of them do not know Reschke and did not even yet realize they'd been placed in a new district.
It's ironic that candidates such as Reschke don't even bother to engage with endorsement interviews with outlets they, we can only assume, believe to be unaligned with their values, because when that happens, all we can do as an editorial board is make more assumptions about what those candidates stand for.
But this is also a dereliction of duty in another way, because someone is going to win in the race, just as someone is going to lose. Whoever wins will one day be tasked with sharing information important to the people in their district—and who will they turn to then to get the word out? The very same people—local media—they eschewed when it was campaign season. Candidates should see endorsement interviews not just as a time to advocate for voters to vote for them, but also as a time to sow the seeds of respectful discourse in a community. We as an editorial board may not agree with a particular candidate's (or representative's) viewpoints, but when it comes to sharing news about a change in state law, a bill that's on the horizon in the legislature or other legislative information crucial to people's lives, the media is a vehicle to convey those messages. Those relationships should be tantamount to any politician.
Being a majority-rural district, we believe Lepore, the family farmer, would serve his constituents well in Salem. Lepore took the time to share his ideas with this newspaper here in Bend; Reschke did not. With that, we can only assume that Lepore cares more about all voters of his district. Vote Brian Lepore for Oregon House District 55.