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Walden clear choice for Congress

October 19, 2006 Herald and News editorial,

Oregon's 2nd Congressional District is bigger than some states, has an economy that relies heavily on natural resources and has a congressmen who fits it. There's no reason to make a change.

The 2nd District should return Greg Walden to office for another two-year term - his fifth. The Hood River businessman was first elected in 1998 after serving in the State Legislature since 1988.

His opponent is Carol Voisin, a teacher at Southern Oregon University. Voisin has a bachelor's degree in social science and a doctorate of theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif. She's managed academic programs at Duke University and Pacific School of Religion, also at Berkeley.

Voisin's campaign is largely built on national and international issues - such as Iraq. There may be a case to be made that the only way to vote against the present policy in Iraq and take a stand on some other national issues is to vote against a congressman from the same party as the president, but the case against Walden, such as it can be made, ends there and is overwhelmed by his performance.

He has been strongly attentive to the 2nd District, returning often to it. The district includes all of Eastern Oregon and, on the west side, Jackson County and part of Josephine County.

Walden has demonstrated the ability to work across party lines. Good thing, too, since the other members of Oregon's delegation are Democrats. He co-sponsored the Healthy Forest Act along with Brian Baird, D-Wash., and worked well with Rep. Earl Blumenauer in the effort to establish more wilderness area at Mount Hood.

He's also fought the Bush administration on some issues including the Mount Hood wilderness proposal and the county payments bill. He's been a major help to the Klamath Basin in dealing with the Klamath River's chronic water problems. He worked hard in the wake of the cutoff of water in the Klamath Reclamation Project.

Buyouts a bad idea

During a recent visit to Klamath Falls, Voisin supported a buyout program of farmland and irrigation rights from willing sellers as a way to lessen demand for water and reduce the problems. Walden has opposed that approach, and he's right to.

The land would be almost certain to come into some form of public ownership that doesn't pay property taxes. That would be a terrible idea at a time when the county is facing the eventual end of the county payments revenue it gets from the federal government and is more reliant than ever on property taxes. Such a program would also reduce the critical mass the Basin needs to maintain for a viable agriculture economy.

Walden is well tuned in to the needs of the Klamath Basin and the rest of the 2nd District. Voters should send him back to the nation's capital to continue his work.

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