Democrat Eldon Rollins lost to state Sen. Jeff Kruse by nearly 22,000 votes in 2008, but that didn’t deter the Coquille resident from challenging the Roseburg Republican again.
The two men are friendly rivals. They left a meeting Wednesday with The News-Review editorial board and continued talking in the parking lot. They view many issues differently, however.
Kruse, who is finishing his second four-year term in the Senate after eight years in the Oregon House, said he believes Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber wants Oregon to be the first state to fully implement President Barack Obama’s health care plan.
Kruse said he fears government plans will supplant private insurance. He said he favors Oregon workers receiving premium support from employers but having the power to choose their insurance plans.
“I’m looking at it as a marketplace sort of vehicle to allow people to make their own choices,” Kruse said.
Rollins, on the other hand, said he advocates universal health care coverage for each American. He doesn’t think the president’s plan goes far enough.
“Obamacare doesn’t get that close, but it’s better than what’s out there,” he said.
Kruse said he voted against a mortgage reform bill passed by the Legislature last year because the law increased paperwork for lenders while providing little relief for homeowners.
He said banks want to keep people in their homes, rather than foreclose on properties that have declined in value.
Rollins blamed the mortgage industry for loose lending practices before the housing collapse. The banks only care about their bottom lines and are unsympathetic toward people who were given loans they could not afford.
On jobs, Rollins said he wants the state continue to promote the green economy. He also said school districts should hire more teachers to lower teacher-to-student ratios.
Rollins said he would also like to see more logs manufactured into products in the United States rather than shipped overseas.
Kruse criticized the federal government for failing to allow timber to be harvested from federal forests ravaged by fire. He said good trees go to waste under that policy.
He said a forest plan pushed by Oregon Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, Greg Walden, R-Hood River, and Kurt Schrader, D-Salem, has the potential to increase timber harvests.
He also said Oregon needs to develop a way to take water from the Columbia River during peak flows to refill Eastern Oregon aquifers to increase agricultural production.
“I wish I had the soil from Eastern Oregon,” said Kruse, co-owner of Kruse Farms in Melrose. “You just add water and it grows.”
“There are times in Western Oregon and in Eastern Oregon when it rains too much,” he said. “If you could grab some of that water then, it would be a good thing.”
Kruse said if re-elected, he will continue to focus on health care and education. He said too many school district employees work outside classrooms.
Kruse said he thinks too much emphasis is placed on teaching students about the global economy. He said high school graduates going to work at Roseburg Forest Products aren’t interested in Japan’s economy, for instance.
Rollins disagreed, saying that timber demand and prices in Japan could affect those areas in the United States.
“I think kids growing up should learn about the world,” he said.
District 1 includes Douglas, Coos, Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties.
• You can reach reporter John Sowell at 541-957-4209 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.