The November election for state representative in House District 7 will pit incumbent Republican Cedric Hayden against Democratic challenger Christy Inskip.
Hayden, 50, is a dental surgeon from Fall Creek in rural Lane County and the founder of Caring Hands Worldwide, a nonprofit organization that provides dental care to low-income families. He has served in the legislature since 2015, and is the son of former state legislator Cedric Hayden, Sr.
Inskip, 39, of Cottage Grove is a senior community health analyst for Lane County Public Health who has never held elected office.
The two are competing to represent a district that covers most of North Douglas County, including Sutherlin, Oakland, Yoncalla, Elkton, Drain and Glide, as well as rural South Lane County.
Hayden said with a Democratic majority in Salem the system is too one-sided. He said he’s a voice for everyone in his community, but he also said it’s critical to have the minority Republican Party represented with a full seat at the table.
“We need more voices in politics, not fewer. We get better legislation when there is balance, when people have to work together to find compromises, so we can do the most good for the most people,” he said.
He also said he has a proven track record of crossing the aisle to work on legislation.
“The fact is, if you’re passionate about an issue, you can always find someone from the other side who cares deeply about that same issue. You’re stronger as a united front on passing bills when you can find someone from the other party to co-sponsor the idea you want to champion,” he said.
Hayden said Douglas County’s biggest problem is a lack of jobs.
“Largely, the lack of employment stems from an inability to properly use our natural resources in a balanced way for job creation and conservation,” Hayden said. “My Portland-area colleagues want to focus on the conservation part, and in doing so, have put our neighbors out of work.”
Hayden said more needs to be done to “help reignite” staple industries like logging.
He also wants to prepare students for the jobs of the future through increasing career and technology education.
“We have an opportunity in that many of our high-wage trades jobs are about to turn over with older workers getting ready to retire from the workforce. That means we need plumbers, sheet metal fitters, construction workers, and mechanics,” he said.
Hayden said students can be ready for many of those jobs if they obtain two-year degrees or apprenticeships. He said he wants the Measure 98 education dollars Oregon voters approved in 2016 to be spent ensuring students can obtain the family-wage jobs they want.
Asked to describe in 10 words or less why he feels he’d be the better choice than his opponent Hayden said, “Deep roots and the experience to move our community forward.”
Inskip said the current political climate is “far too polarized,” and she wants to “bring everyone to the table” to work on common sense solutions for rural Oregonians. She said she doesn’t care whether an idea comes from Republicans or Democrats, so long as it’s a good idea that can make life better for Oregonians.
“We all care about the same issues, and the only way to solve these issues is to work together,” she said.
Inskip said Douglas County’s biggest problem is a shortage of family wage jobs.
“Our rural communities are hurting, and our dollars do not stretch as far as they used to. We need to create more jobs that pay enough to raise a family. This will allow folks to spend more money and stimulate our rural economies,” she said.
Inskip said she would support small businesses through financial investments and worker training. She also said she would fight to get rural Douglas County its fair share of infrastructure projects, which would create new family wage jobs.
Inskip also said improving public education is key to creating family wage jobs, because businesses need highly skilled workers. She said she would advocate for increasing career and technical education and for allowing teachers to adjust curriculum to better meet the needs of students.
Asked to describe in 10 words or less why she feels she’d be the better choice than her opponent Inskip said, “I will be an accessible leader who listens to constituents.”