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Whitsetts prepare for seats in Salem
Husband-wife team likely to represent Basin
By SAMANTHA TIPLER, Herald and News 5/19/12
A husband-wife team likely will represent Klamath and Lake counties at the state capitol next year, and both say job creation, the economy and lessening regulations on Oregon businesses are on the agenda.

State Sen. Doug Whitsett has held the Oregon Senate District 28 post for two terms. He won the Republican nomination Tuesday, taking about 75 percent of the vote in his district, which includes Klamath, Lake, Jackson, Deschutes, and Crook counties. His Republican challenger, Karl Scronce, took the other 25 percent of the vote.

Gail Whitsett narrowly won the Republican nomination for Oregon House District 56, besting opponent Tracey Liskey, 53 percent to 47 percent.

No Democratic candidates

There were no Democratic candidates on the primary ballot so unless a candidate from an independent party files before August, both Whitsetts will run unopposed.

“I got almost three of every four of the votes. I don’t know why I would change what I’ve done,” Doug Whitsett said after the election. “I try to focus my campaigns on who I am, and what I’ve done, and my voting record as a fiscally conservative Republican.”

Gail Whitsett said her seven years of experience as chief of staff for her husband in Salem helped her win the Republican nomination.
“Obviously it was a race that was within six percentage points — that’s a fairly close race,” she said. “I tried to pick the issues people told me were most important to them: jobs and the economy. When I would take the telephone calls in Salem people were very concerned about the economy.”

Gail and Doug Whitsett said they will continue to campaign up to the general election, visiting constituents and listening to voters.

“I don’t know how many forums (we attended) and questionnaires we answered,” Doug Whitsett said of the couple’s primary campaigns. “We made every effort to make an appearance any time someone requested it.”
Doug Whitsett aims to attract business
If elected, Doug Whitsett said he will work on his goal of making Oregon a more business friendly state. He wants to amend or repeal taxes like the capital gains tax, income tax and the estate tax, as he has said during his campaign. He also said regulations — whether they are labor or environmental — stand in the way of successful business growth.

“Small businesses are struggling to survive in this regulatory environment and new businesses are not starting because of those issues, and liability issues,” he said. “The business environment in Oregon and Klamath County really make it tough to make a living.”

As a Republican, Doug Whitsett is in the minority party and faces a challenge in garnering enough support from fellow lawmakers to make the changes he wants.

He said he will continue to work with Democrats in the Senate, or with Republicans in the House to try and form coalitions to make changes. Whitsett listed some he has been a part of — including the Oregon Coastal Caucus, the Southern Oregon Caucus and the Senate Bipartisan Caucus — as examples of such partnerships.

“I think that was quite effective in this last session,” he said. “Many times coalitions don’t make a lot of noise or a big splash. It’s a matter of being able to bring people together. … To me the essence of being able to be successful is to be able to work in those coalitions … I’m not going to compromise my core values and I don’t expect them to either. We have to find a middle ground.”

Whitsett hopes to pull together rural lawmakers to have a stronger voice in Salem.

For example, he said, there are rumors of a bill in the works that would charge a fee to anyone with a domestic well.

“If that comes forward I will try very hard to dissuade that from passing,” he said.

Gail Whitsett: Land use will be a priority
Gail Whitsett said, if elected, she wants to continue work done by her predecessor, state Rep. Bill Garrard, to modify Oregon’s land use system so it can be addressed on a regional basis. For example, she said, land classified as timber in the Willamette Valley may be very different from timberland in Klamath County.

“It might have four junipers and a pile of rocks,” Gail Whitsett said. “Why not use that land to put a business on, where it can be usable if it wasn’t classified as timber.”

Likewise, she said she would address water quality regulations put in place by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

The DEQ is asking cities and counties to make water cleaner than it naturally occurs in lakes and rivers, she said. As a lawmaker, she is not yet sure how she would address DEQ policies, but said she would make it a top priority.

These issues hinder businesses and economic growth, she said, and by addressing them, she hopes to make Oregon’s regulations less burdensome.

“That’s the point of all of this,” she said.




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