One secret to marital happiness for Roseburg couple Megan and Jeremy Salter is they’ve learned to get along despite their political differences. She’s a Democrat; he’s a former Republican turned unaffiliated voter.
Both are running for office in the May primary. The two turned up, along with a handful of family and friends, to the elections office in the Douglas County Courthouse Friday, where Jeremy formally filed to run against Chris Boice for Douglas County commissioner. Megan found out she’d have to file with the secretary of state’s office in Salem for her run for state House District 2, a seat currently held by Winston Republican Dallas Heard.
When the Salters met, Megan was a Democrat and Jeremy a Republican. Many people find it’s hard to listen to people on opposite sides of the party line these days, but the Salters say they’ve learned a lot from listening to each other.
“It’s helped us both move much more toward the center. I wish that more people were willing to listen to somebody despite their party line. That’s the only way our country’s going to move forward,” Megan Salter said.
It was the closure of the Douglas County Library System that motivated both of them to get involved in local politics. The two had moved here from California because Roseburg was exactly the kind of place where they wanted to raise their kids.
The library closing was almost a “deal breaker,” Jeremy Salter, 43, said. Megan Salter, 36, described their kids as “voracious readers.” She travels to the Eugene library regularly to keep them in books.
Instead of the knee jerk reaction of moving, though, they decided to stick it out and get involved. Megan Salter, a former preschool teacher and stay-at-home mom, helped organize a makeshift library at Cascadian Coffee and she’s working on founding a local chapter of the National Organization for Women.
She finds her emphasis on good treatment for women an interesting contrast given recent political developments with Douglas County’s legislators. She noted recent news coverage of Heard’s comment on a 2009 Rush Limbaugh broadcast that women shouldn’t be leaders — a position he said doesn’t reflect who he is today. And Heard has put his hat in the ring to possibly replace state Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, who will officially resign his position this month, following allegations he inappropriately touched women at the Capitol.
Megan Salter is so far the only Democrat in the race. If she wins the nomination, it’s not clear who she’ll face in the November general election. Douglas County Commissioner Gary Leif has filed for the Republican nomination, but said he’ll drop out if Heard doesn’t get Kruse’s seat. And candidates still have until Tuesday to file.
House District 2, which covers Roseburg and South County, along with small portions of Jefferson and Jackson counties, has traditionally been solidly Republican, but Salter isn’t deterred by that.
“I feel that just because I’m a Democrat doesn’t mean I can’t do what’s best for this district and our county. As a politician, my job will be to listen to the needs of my constituents and take their voices to Salem,” she said.
Megan Salter said she’d emphasize education if she was elected to the legislature. She said she comes from a long line of teachers, and she believes schools need increased funding. They also need smaller class sizes, she said.
Jeremy Salter is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Reserve corporal who signed up to serve at 16 and became a field radio operator. He was raised in a strong church community where his father had been a minister, and where people were always helping each other, and that’s a value that stuck with him. He’s also a former investigator for Macy’s department store and a businessman who formerly ran a satellite TV installation company. He’s currently a corporate trainer.
He describes himself as socially liberal and fiscally conservative. He said he understands budgets, and he became concerned, after the library closed, about how the county government spends its money. He’d like to find ways for the county to raise funds and cut costs, though he said he doesn’t have specifics yet.
“Obviously timber has been and always will be the cornerstone of our economy and the revenue to the county. I don’t think that’s going to change, I don’t want that to change, but I also feel like we have all of our eggs in one basket,” he said.
And he said the commissioners need to make more effort to seek ideas from community members. Holding meetings at 9 a.m. on a weekday, when most people can’t attend, isn’t the way to do that, he said.
“That limits access to the public, and that restricts the flow of ideas and information and discussion about what we do to fix the budget crisis that we’re in,” he said.
Jason Leeper, who happens to be the Salters’ neighbor, is also in the race for the same commissioner seat.