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May 2, 2014
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Guest column: Douglas County cannot afford to spend more money than it's taking in

I am frequently asked why I’m running for public office. While the offices for which I have run have changed, my reasoning has not. That reason had to do with a fire. A fire that could have easily destroyed my home and family was halted by the quick response and actions of the Roseburg Fire Department. Had they been just a few minutes later in arriving, the people I love and cherish the most would have been gone.

Not long after that, I read the city was going to close a fire station due to budget constraints. When I questioned officials about this action, they told me that I just did not understand the city’s budgetary matters. It was then I decided to get involved. I was determined to understand the issues and see if I could change things.

I started by being appointed to the city’s budget committee. This gave me an understanding of how cities operate financially. I then served for five years on the city council, many of those as council president. This afforded me the opportunity to become involved in shaping public policy and I became a champion for public safety issues. One of the projects I cared most about was building a new public safety center to house the Roseburg police and fire departments.

I am now finishing my third term in the Oregon House of Representatives. I have served as a member of the Full Ways and Means Committee, the co-chair of the Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee, on the Rules Committee, the Legislative Emergency Board, the Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee, the O&C Lands Task Force, Oregon Homeland Security Council, co-chair of the Small Business Task Force, co-chair of a special joint committee and was part of our caucus leadership team. This enabled me to broaden my knowledge base and advocate for a greater number of constituents.

One thing I hear from voters all across Douglas County is the importance of creating jobs. The cost of our most expensive social service programs could be reduced if our residents had a good job that provide for them and their families. As a small business owner for over 20 years, I’ve come to believe that government can’t create jobs. What it can do, however, is create the environment where jobs can be created. As co-chair of the Small Business Task Force, my goal was to help remove barriers for businesses, not make their lives more miserable. Instead of helping small businesses — the key to job creation — government often treats them like ATMs, hitting them up for unbelievable taxes and fees. This is neither a healthy nor sustainable way to create economic development.

Another topic of importance to all of us in this great county is the management of our natural resources, specifically of the federally managed O&C forests. With much of Douglas County’s land locked in federal control, this is an issue that has been with us for years, and there is no silver bullet solution that will solve our problems overnight.

Increasing federal timber harvests and protecting local timber businesses are a critical part of bringing prosperity back to Douglas County. If elected, I will continue to work with citizens, businesses and officials at all levels of government to reach a permanent and comprehensive solution for our public lands and rural communities. I will promote active, multi-use management to restore forest health and allow more citizens to return to work in the woods.

It can be easy for a candidate to propose ideas. I am the only candidate with a clear track record of accomplishment over the past decade. I have always been a strong supporter of the utilization of natural resources. I have pushed for increasing timber harvests on state forestlands, co-sponsored measures urging federal leaders to increase timber harvests, and passed legislation making it more affordable for businesses to reinvest in new logging equipment. I have consistently opposed tax increases and regulations that threatened our loggers, mills, truckers and other forestry businesses.

Douglas County is facing some serious challenges. We cannot continue to spend more money than we are taking in. We need to have a public process around the county that asks the citizens what services they want the county to provide. What county government will look like moving forward affects everyone in Douglas County and we need input from every citizen who will be impacted by those decisions.

My priorities for serving in public office have not changed. My goals are to facilitate job creation and make sure that you have a representative in government who listens to you and in turn makes sure your voice is heard.

Tim Freeman of Roseburg is a small-business owner, a state representative for House District No. 2 and a candidate for Douglas County commissioner. He can be reached at 541-580-7575 or tim@timfreeman.us.

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The News-Review Updated May 2, 2014 11:04AM Published May 2, 2014 11:04AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.