The November election for state representative in House District 2 will pit incumbent Republican Gary Leif against Democratic challenger Megan Salter.
Salter is a 36-year-old homemaker, a former preschool teacher, and a Democratic precinct committee person. She has served as a school booster club president and as vice chairwoman for the women’s caucus of the state Democratic party.
Leif, 61, served as a Douglas County commissioner from January 2017 until he was appointed interim representative in May. He replaced Dallas Heard, who was appointed to replace Jeff Kruse in the state senate.
Leif owned a well-known Roseburg photography studio for 40 years. He’s a former Winston First Citizen and has a long history of government and community service. Among other things, he’s served on the Winston Planning Commission and the Winston/Dillard Fire Board, and been president of the Winston Area Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Roseburg Association.
House District 2 covers Roseburg, Winston, Myrtle Creek, Riddle, Canyonville and Glendale, along with small segments of Josephine and Jackson counties.
Salter has said she thinks more teachers and stay-at-home moms need to bring their experiences to the state legislature because they offer a different point of view on issues like education, family wage jobs and affordable housing.
She said electing a Democrat would give Douglas County residents an advantage in the Democratically-controlled legislature.
“As a member of the majority caucus, I can effectively voice the concerns of constituents from all parties in rural Oregon and deliver results,” she said.
She said she would work well with Republicans, too.
“I will serve as the bridge between parties and between rural and urban areas, so all voices are at the decision making table. Bipartisan collaboration will ensure we pass laws that work for all Oregonians,” she said.
Salter said Douglas County’s biggest problem is that the economy has not recovered from the recession. She said a lack of economic diversification exacerbates the problem. She said she’d address the problem as a legislator by investing in career and technical training, encouraging jobs in the building trades, health care and new industry.
“This will increase our workforce, boost our economy and address the shortage of healthcare providers and housing,” she said.
Asked to describe in 10 words or less why she feels she’d be the better choice than her opponent, Salter said, “I will listen, collaborate, and deliver results for rural Oregon.”
Leif said Southern Oregon is economically different from the more urban northern part of the state. It’s dependent on tourism, agriculture, medical retirement and veteran services and doesn’t have the large tech companies that fuel job growth and higher income and property taxes.
He said a Republican should represent Douglas County in the state House because America was founded on a two-party system that ensures debate and compromise.
“My political beliefs are clearly more conservative than those in Salem and Portland. I believe that my voice is needed in order to bring the rural Oregon view to the legislature,” he said.
Leif said his office meets and coordinates with Republican, Independent and Democratic groups.
“My role as a legislator is to understand all the needs of the district and ensure that each group has access to the committee and legislative process,” he said.
Leif said Douglas County’s biggest issues are fire resiliency and restoration of healthy forests; rural county revenue problems; a need for education that leads to job growth; and a lack of housing for citizens that also impacts the ability of companies to grow.
He said communication and listening are key to solving those problems. He said he has offices in both Salem and Roseburg and is engaged with groups all around the district. He also said he will seek committee appointments related to those problems and look for opportunities to introduce or influence legislative solutions.
Asked to describe in 10 words or less why he feels he’d be the better choice than his opponent Leif said, “legislative experience combined with an understanding of the district needs.”