Two Democrats — Kat Stone and Les Goodrich — will race in the primary for the chance to run against state Republican Sen. Dallas Heard in November.
Stone is a registered nurse from Roseburg and Goodrich is a retired journeyman electrician from Brookings. Stone and Goodrich filed late Tuesday afternoon for the District 1 Senate seat which covers Roseburg, South Douglas County, Curry County and parts of Coos, Josephine and Jackson counties.
Heard has no Republican primary challengers.
Republican Reps. Gary Leif and Cedric Hayden will also face Democrats in November but have no primary challengers.
Tuesday was the final day to file.
Roseburg attorney Charles Lee has filed for the Democratic primary for House District 2. The District 2 seat, which covers Roseburg and most of South County, is currently held by Leif.
Jerry Samaniego, a solar installer and salesman from rural Lane County has filed for the Democratic primary for House District 7. The District 7 seat, which covers North Douglas and South Lane counties, is currently held by Hayden.
At the county level, there’s no competition at all. Dan Loomis, appointed to fill a vacancy in the Douglas County clerk position, is running unopposed for election to his seat. Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin also faces no challengers. And a newcomer, Samuel Lee, is the only candidate seeking to replace Dick Filley as county treasurer. Filley is not seeking reelection, citing age and a need to return to his mortgage business.
The legislative contestants’ names will appear on the May ballot. But because there is only one candidate each for clerk, sheriff and treasurer, their names will not appear on the May primary ballot. Instead, they’ll just be on the November ballot.
None of the three county commissioner positions is up for reelection this year, and District Attorney Rick Wesenberg has no opposition in his bid for reelection.
Here’s a rundown of the new candidates:
Kat Stone grew up in Douglas County and has been here for 65 years.
“I may be a Democrat, but we all used to be solidly Democrat here. I don’t know exactly when it flipped. That’s part of history. But I share the values, I share the concerns, and I think I can work with Republicans,” Stone said.
She said she doesn’t think Heard is doing anything for the district.
“You never hear anything from him, except just now with Timber Unity,” she said.
Stone said “big timber” is a problem for Southern Oregon.
“Jobs have been exported. They knew in the 70s that they were going to implement changes with mechanization that would reduce jobs by 25% by the year 2000, and the timber industry knew that but they didn’t tell anybody,” she said.
“Timber Unity is worried about timber jobs, and there just aren’t that many jobs,” she said.
Stone has been an outspoken watchdog and critic of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, with a particular emphasis on transparency and environmental concerns.
Stone said her frustration with the commissioners inspired her to run for Senate. She said the commissioners have told her that only the Legislature can restore a severance tax on private timber harvests.
“So I’ve gone over their heads,” Stone said.
She said Oregon is the only state on the Pacific Coast without a severance tax.
“There has to be somebody up there who can use their words to talk to the Legislature and get some equity for the people who work here in the industry. We never should have lost the harvest severance,” she said.
The tax used to pay for schools and services, she said, but now logs are being shipped overseas with no benefit to the public.
Stone said some industries that could bring jobs are being overlooked, citing hemp as an example. She favors the proposed medical education college for Roseburg, but said a shortage of housing for students is a problem and the Legislature needs to help the community with that.
She was elected to the Umpqua Public Transportation District Board in 2018, the year the independent district first formed. Stone has been a nurse for 30 years, and became interested in public transit because of her concern for patients having difficulty traveling to medical appointments.
She also serves on the Roberts Creek Water District Budget Board.
Les Goodrich is a retired journeyman electrician and contractor and an Air Force veteran with years of experience and training in a wide variety of skilled labor jobs.
Goodrich has not held political office, but said he volunteers with the Curry County Democrats and belongs to the Vietnam Veterans Association and the Elks Lodge. He served as a radar controller in the Air Force and later joined the Air National Guard.
He said he’s enthusiastic about increasing apprenticeship programs, getting jobs to the area and keeping the earth safe for the future.
“I don’t want to sit on my tail and watch TV. I want to get out and get something done,” he said.
He said he decided to challenge Heard for his seat because of the Republican walkout.
“The senator we have doesn’t bother to show up,” he said. “I think that we should have some representation from our electorate and if they don’t want to bother to come through the Capitol then I don’t think they’re needed.”
Goodrich wants to bring more jobs to southern Oregon, especially to the coastal area. He is concerned about environmental problems that are harming timber and fishing jobs, citing as an example ocean acidification that is damaging the shellfish industry.
“If we don’t change something we’re going to have a lot of unemployed people and have more desperate lives,” he said.
There’s a shortage of skilled labor that won’t be fixed without union training and apprenticeships, he said.
He wants to see changes to education, including year-round schools and jobs training in the last two years of school, rather than just pushing kids to go to college.
Goodrich is optimistic that a Democrat could win the seat, which has been represented by Republicans for decades.
“It depends how many people have their eyes open and see that the current senator just aligns himself with the other Republicans and doesn’t bother to show up,” he said.
Charles Lee has been a Roseburg attorney for more than four decades. He served as a deputy district attorney from 1975 to 1987 before going into private practice. Lee is also a longtime member of the Roseburg School Board, on which he has served since 1996.
Lee said Douglas County has had “negative representation” for many years, with legislators who talk about how it is being victimized by other people.
“The effort has been to create a political base that is united by us being afraid that we’re being mistreated by the northern part of the state, without actually accomplishing anything,” Lee said.
The recent walkouts by Republican legislators are just one example of that, he said.
He said he hasn’t read the cap and trade bill that led to the walkout closely enough to have an opinion. But he hasn’t been impressed by the debate, which sounded to him like one side saying “global warming, global warming, global warming” and the other side saying “more taxes, more taxes, more taxes.”
“My experience has been most issues have got room for intelligent discussion about them, but particularly of late it really seems like politics has just been people shouting slogans at one another,” he said.
Lee said he wants to work on education, roads and infrastructure, and criminal law. He said as a Democrat he’d be more effective communicating with urban Democrats than the Republicans are, and the Democrats could benefit from a rural perspective.
This isn’t Lee’s first run for the legislature. He ran unsuccessfully against then-representative Jeff Kruse in 2000. He also made an unsuccessful bid for Douglas County Circuit Court judge in 2016.
He said he made a last-minute decision to run in this year’s election.
“I looked and I saw nobody was running. It’s kind of a tenet that I don’t think you’ve got the right to bitch about stuff if you’re not willing to do the job. If I’m unhappy, then I’m going to be more unhappy in November if I’ve got to look at a ballot and there’s only one name on it,” he said.
Jerry Samaniego calls himself a “second generation solar guy.” His father started a solar company in Tucson, Arizona in 1977. The first time he remembers being on the roof with his dad he was 4 years old.
Samaniego put himself through college working for his dad and waiting tables and ended up going right back into the solar business. He currently works on installation, sales and design for Energy Design Co. in Eugene and lives in Walterville east of Springfield.
“I can say that the solar industry has been feeding me for over 40 years now,” he said.
He moved to Oregon in 2013 after he learned a friend was selling his house up the McKenzie River.
Samaniego wasn’t impressed with Hayden and other legislators walking out of the Capitol to protest a carbon cap and trade bill. For one thing, he said, rural areas will suffer the effects of climate change even more than urban areas.
“If you talk to farmers, if you talk to river guides, if you talk even to loggers they’ll tell you things are not the way that they used to be. So we need to take action to address that. And if you actually read that climate bill that Republicans walked out on, you will see that the intent is to help the communities that are affected first and worst,” he said.
Another reason he opposed the walkout, he said, is that many people in District 7 will be impacted by important bills that weren’t signed because the legislators were gone. He’s among them, as a bill involving certification for people in his field was one of the bills that didn’t get a vote.
But he said Hayden didn’t just walk out on him. He also walked out on bills that would have expanded school breakfasts to 100,000 kids, many of them rural, on a bill to fund wildfire prevention and a bill to fund the Shake Alert earthquake warning system, Samaniego said.
Samaniego hasn’t held political office before, but said he’s been an activist with Indivisible Eugene since 2017. He said it will take a lot of knocking on doors, but he thinks a Democrat could win.
“It would certainly send a message to the other representatives that if you walk out, your constituents are watching and they expect you to show up to work,” he said.
Samuel Lee is co-owner and founder of Western Financial, Inc. He said he decided to run for county treasurer at the last minute, after Commissioner Tom Kress told him no one was running. Lee said it’s important that the role be filled by a person who understands financial markets.
“The big concern is having somebody who doesn’t understand financial markets being in the position and doing something that might jeopardize the county’s welfare and the reserves that the county has worked so hard to keep,” he said.
Lee’s political experience includes stints on the Lookingglass Olalla Water District Board, Winston Dillard School Board, Oregon School Board and as a delegate to the National School Board Association.
Lee, a rancher, put himself through college 15 years ago.
“My body couldn’t hold up for the physical labor for another 20 years,” he said.
He was hired out of college to be a financial adviser with Smith Barney and later started his own financial advising company.
“I enjoy it. I love helping people, and it’s something that if somebody had been there early on to help me with this side of life I might have done better,” he said.
He anticipates being able to work both at the county and Western Financial, with the assistance of his partner and office manager.