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Senate hopefuls debate priorities
Role of government, representation key
by SAMANTHA TIPLER, Herald and News 4/13/12
State Sen. Doug Whitsett said he was against intrusive government.
Karl Scronce said he would represent everyone.
The two men, who are vying for the Republican nomination for Oregon Senate District 28, tried to set themselves apart during a debate Wednesday at the Klamath County Government Center.
Scronce said his campaign priorities are job creation, education and representation.
“To me the most important is representation,” he said. “I think we have had some ill representation. I feel like it’s time for some change. I feel like I’m the person for that.”
Unlike his opponent, Whitsett said, he believes in a smaller government.
“I believe in a smaller, more precise, more reactive government that provides essential services to the people and keeps its fingers out of our daily lives, our businesses and our communities,” he said.
A key example of that, he said, is the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, a settlement that aims to create stable power rates and water supplies for irrigators, fund restoration efforts and help the Klamath Tribes acquire a 92,000-acre forested parcel known as the Mazama Tree Farm. It also advocates removal of four Klamath River dams.
Whitsett opposes dam removal and the KBRA.
“It’s a billion dollar invasion of potential federal money into a community that would prefer to be left alone,” he said, adding that local residents should be able to decide how to use water and go about it their own way.
Whitsett also said many people don’t understand the reasoning behind removing the Klamath River dams as part of the agreement.
“We should be preserving and enhancing those dams, not destroying them,” he said.
Scronce, who took part in negotiating the KBRA, called the agreement an example of cooperation between differing points of view. He said he would take that same spirit of cooperation to the Oregon Legislature.
“We own government,” he said. “I feel like you have to be in a role of (asking) what does that government look like.”
Relationship with Tribes
When asked about their relationship with the Klamath Tribes, Whitsett said he was against the Tribes, as an entity, owning land.
Whitsett countered, saying he didn’t call cattle more important, he simply noted that it takes up a larger sector of agriculture.
“I personally believe that the Tribes can certainly buy land and hold it as American citizens,” he said, “but I do not believe it is in the best interest of the tribes or the non-tribal community to establish a tribal land base in Klamath County.”
Scronce said he worked with the Tribes and tribal members during KBRA negotiations. Having built bridges there, he was proud to put campaign signs on their property.
Whitsett hit a raw nerve with Scronce when he said cattle and dairy are the largest agricultural sectors in Klamath County. Whitsett said he wanted to maintain pasture and hay growing capacity to support that key industry.
Scronce shot back, saying he was tired of hearing cattle and dairy were more important than row-crop farming.
“It doesn’t matter if I’m a potato farmer or somebody down in the Lower Basin,” he said. “That person is equally as important as a cattle rancher in the Upper Basin. Separating and being divided in agriculture is not in my book. I support all agriculture and that’s the way I would represent.”
Whitsett countered, saying he didn't call cattle more important, he simply noted that it takes up a larger sector of agriculture.
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Page Updated: Friday April 13, 2012 07:01 PM Pacific
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