The Tillamook County Pioneer sent five questions to Tillamook County candidates for State Representative for House District 10 (south Tillamook County); House District 32 (Central/north Tillamook County); Tillamook County Board of Commissioners; and Tillamook PUD Board Candidates.
Over the next week, we will publish the candidates’ answers, beginning with candidates for state representative. It is our belief that voters need as much information about the candidates as possible, and many can’t make it to public forums and events, and the ads, social media, postcards, brochures do not always give an accurate view.
It is our intention to provide the opportunity for voters to compare the candidates on a level playing field. PLEASE VOTE! Register online by Oct. 16th. If you aren’t registered to vote – it’s easy! You can register online at https://sos.oregon.gov/voting/Pages/registration.aspx?lang=en until October 16th. Register now!! And VOTE!
MEET THE CANDIDATES: State Representative House District #10
Thomas Donohue, Republican
1. Why do you want this position, and why are you the best person for it?
I moved to Tillamook County in 1980 from the Salem area. During the last 38 years, I’ve seen this area go from a natural resources middle income economy to a tourist based economy where the average household income is only around $35,000 a year. Meanwhile, the Portland / Willamette Valley household incomes are considerably higher; around $51,000 to $55,000. Oh, by the way, the country’s average income is $61,000.
Because approximately 19 of 30 Oregon Senate seats are located in the Portland / Willamette Valley area, their interests consistently get more consideration from Salem, where the coast & eastern Oregon’s interests fail to gain traction. Considering the Democratic dominance in Salem, the only way to change that dichotomy is for Conservatives to win control of the House or Senate.
I am a fiscal Conservative. I’m not an economic expert but I can analyze Oregon’s basic financial problems and offer practical solutions. Those solutions basically are to reduce the size of Oregon’s government, reduce the business regulation burden and reduce taxes to stimulate our economy, just like President Trump did in mid to late 2017.
Our State is approximately $35.7 Billion dollars in debt. That’s about $8,600 owed by each of Oregon’s 4.1 million citizens. $25 Billion dollars of that debt is the unfunded liability of our Public Employee Retirement System (PERS). Note: The actuarial liability of PERS is approximately $90 Billion dollars.
Oregon’s current revenues are about $40.4 Billion dollars but we’re still currently spending about $51 Billion dollars each year! In a year from now, our debt will be approximately $45 Billion dollars which is over 100% of what our incoming revenues are. In other words, we are spending 25% a year over our income. This is not sustainable! We WILL go bankrupt if we don’t STOP SPENDING RIGHT NOW!!!
Raising new taxes like an environmental Cap & Trade tax, creating new “individual sales taxes” for computers, groceries or cell phones, rescinding the “Kicker” for individuals or removing the limits on property taxes by deleting “Measure 5”, are NOT answers to this “Credit Card Binge” the Legislature is on. Just considering Cap & Trade, transportation costs for commodities to the coast will increase the costs for EVERYTHING. This will hammer our coastal economy!
We need to eliminate or condense state agencies, have public employees pay the 6% the state is currently paying toward their pensions and pare back the amount of state employees.
Don’t get me wrong, almost all of our public employees are dedicated hard working people but we can’t sustain the status quo.
We can make it easier on our employees by gradually increasing their contributions to their pensions over a 3 year period (2% a year), but this has to be done. They already are paying 6% toward their medical insurance due to lawmaking in previous legislative sessions. It’s time for them to pay toward their own pensions. All new hires should be offered a 401k plan just like the rest of America.
Many of our state agencies and school districts have a massive middle management problem with 3 or 4 layers of vertical middle management. Normal medium or large businesses only have one layer. Each manager usually have 3-10 administrative assistants or coordinators. This practice bloats the bureaucracy immensely and hampers communication within the organization. This organizational bloat can be changed by the Governor’s executive decisions but even if a Conservative administration is elected, it could revert back without a legislative solution written to eliminate partisan influence in the future.
We will go broke if we don’t start trimming our state government, and I mean RIGHT NOW!!!
2. What will you do to make a difference for Tillamook County?
I will be an advocate for fiscal reality, I will defend our individual Constitutional rights; especially the 2nd Amendment, create legislation to eliminate or condense state agencies and legislation to upgrade our coastal infrastructure utilizing Lottery bonds (not increase taxes).
3. What are your main/top priorities?
My top priority is to fix PERS and to legislate ways to pare back state government.
4. Provide a SWOT analysis of Tillamook County – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
Tillamook’s strengths are easy to describe; our plentiful natural resources and its citizens. Unfortunately, our access to those natural resources and how they are managed, are problems that the federal and state governments have created.
One of our weaknesses and biggest threat is the need for better preparedness for a natural disaster. Educating our local citizens and visitors on how to react when danger happens as well as stock-piling emergency rations and equipment away from the danger zones is imperative. Those things need funding from state sources and active local participation.
Other weaknesses are the coast’s meager infrastructures, where help from the state is desperately needed. Local bond measures to add police or fire personnel, upgrading roads, water, sewer, power and communications are a major burden to small communities where average incomes are well below the national average and everything is so darn expensive. State help is possible with financing from Lottery bonds. We just need a stronger advocate in Salem.
Major opportunities exist for our smaller coastal businesses where they can hire and pay better wages to their employees if they aren’t strangled with local and state regulations and there is access to multi-family housing (apartments) for those who work and support those businesses. Our state land use policies severely hamper our access to new housing possibilities. Those policies need to factor rural needs not just liberal urban thinking. This takes strong local representation in the Salem capitol.
5. Please describe your vision for Tillamook County.
We need stronger advocates in Salem and Washington DC. We need access to our resources, stronger more practical education for our children and decent health care for all. If we can find those political advocates, Tillamook County will move forward through the 21st century with a stronger economy backed up with our amazing natural coastal beauty. Our ocean, intertidal areas, rivers, dunes and magnificent rain forests are an inspiration and a marvel for ourselves and visitors from all over the planet. We will protect these things and live in harmony with them in this beautiful county with the freedom we’ve inherited from God and the greatest country on Earth, the United States of America.