Medford City Councilor Kevin Stine announced Tuesday he's running for one of the most contentious and expensive Senate seats in the state, now held by Republican Alan DeBoer.
Stine, a Democrat who is in his first term as councilor, said he decided to run for Senate District 3, which encompasses Medford and Ashland, because the state faces severe pressures on issues such as the budget, housing, healthcare, education and veterans.
"I don't expect everyone to agree with me on everything," he said. "But I want people to know I'm honest. I'll be voting for what's best for Southern Oregon."
Stine, 31, plans to submit his papers on Thursday, the first day candidates can file with the state for the May 2018 primary. Stine already has created a candidate committee, according to the Oregon Secretary of State's Office. No other Democratic candidates have announced so far.
A Southern Oregon University graduate, Stine lives in Medford with his wife, Casey, and their daughter, Riley. He works at ACCESS, where he assists in housing homeless veterans.
A U.S. Navy veteran who served on submarines, Stine claimed DeBoer hasn't offered much leadership on the very issues that he campaigned for last year.
"The simple thing about DeBoer is that he campaigned one way and voted another way," Stine said. "He voted against every single bill that promoted healthcare."
Last year's campaign for the seat cost candidates more than $1 million total and drew pressure from state party leaders to go negative.
DeBoer, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, ran against Democrat Tonia Moro in 2016 after the seat opened up following the death of Sen. Alan Bates.
Stine said he's confident he can raise the money needed to run a spirited campaign.
Since he joined the council in 2014, Stine ran against Sen. Ron Wyden in the 2016 primary. Stine is also the chair of the Medford Urban Renewal Agency.
Healthcare is an issue that resonates with Stine because he grew up in a poor family where putting food on the table meant there was no money left over for a doctor's visit.
"What are the things that can be done so everyone has healthcare?" Stine said. "I want to cover everyone in the state, not by just providing access to healthcare, but helping people get healthcare."
DeBoer ran a campaign based on his ability to work with corporations, but that didn't help when the Senate attempted to work out a corporate tax bill to overcome the state's budget problems, Stine said.
Developing a higher corporate tax rate would help education by providing more money for classrooms and lowering classroom sizes, he said.
"By and large people believe corporations should pay their fair share," Stine said. "The problem is what is that amount?"