American Association of University Women (AAUW) Tillamook hosted a Candidates Forum on Oct. 14, via Zoom. Candidates for State Representative District 10, State Representative District 32, State Senate District 5, and Tillamook County Sheriff answered questions from the community.
The forum was in partnership with KMUN, Tillamook Headlight Herald, Tillamook Bay Community College and the Pacific City-Nestucca Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Question: If you could share your top priority for rural Oregon, and if elected, how would this priority make a difference of Tillamook voters?
“When elected, my top priority is to help businesses and people recover from COVID and the wildfires,” Melissa Cribbins, candidate for State Senate District 5, said. “2020 has been a heck of a year.”
Dick Anderson, also a candidate for State Senate District 5, said his top priority is to get the economy back on track. This is a state that has benefits from income taxes and people need to be employed in order to receive that.
Debbie Boothe-Schmidt, candidate for State Representative District 32, said she knows District 32 is missing a lot of internet connections and all students need to receive quality education. Housing is another priority for her.
“Too many families don’t have the housing they need,” Boothe-Schmidt said.
Suzanne Weber, candidate for State Representative District 32, said virtual learning has shown that there is a deficit in WiFi accessibility. Expanding broadband is important.
“I think that in addition to supporting education, that is what we need to do,” Weber said.
Rep. David Gomberg, current State Representative District 10, and seeking reelection, said his priority is to make sure the benefits of economical recovery go to everyone in Oregon. He has fought to make sure all dollars coming into Oregon are going everywhere in Oregon, including rural areas.
“COVID-19 has dealt us an interesting 2020,” said Mac Sherman, also running for State Representative District 10. “We need to get our businesses [and] we need to get our schools back online and that needs to be a priority,” Sherman said.
COVID-19 is probably going to extend well into 2021 and control needs to be extended back to local areas, Sherman added.
Question: Are you in support of mandatory vaccinations for children to attend school?
Weber said one size does not fit all and parents should have the opportunity to opt in or opt out.
“There have been questions on how safe these vaccinations are to all of our children,” Boothe-Schmidt said. “I feel we need to make sure we’re educating all of the parents, making sure they know everything that could go wrong, everything is good with these vaccinations but I think parents should have that choice.”
Anderson said he is a firm believer of leaving it up to the parents to decide.
“I realize there are some people who have health issues that prevent them from getting vaccines,” Cribbins said. “In those cases, there are medical exemptions but otherwise, we should be requiring children to get vaccinated.”
Sherman said he believes vaccines are important but he supports parents’ rights to make choices.
“I’m in support of making sure kids that come to school are vaccinated unless they’ve demonstrated a medical reason why they shouldn’t be,” Gomberg said.
The forum also had candidates for Tillamook County Sheriff: Gordon McCraw and Josh Brown.
Question: What will you do in your role as sheriff regarding racism?
McCraw said as sheriff, he would not tolerate racism. Brown said he believes racism sometimes gets hidden or pushed away. He would handle it before it happens, meaning proper training.
Question: If assault rifles are banned, will you support it?
McCraw said it is the sheriff’s responsibility to make sure the Constitution is adhered to. Brown said he would question how such a bill would be passed. Both candidates said they would protect constitutional rights.