Former Medford City Councilor Al Densmore is running a write-in campaign as an Independent for the state House seat now held by Sal Esquivel.
"I thought when I walked away from the council in 2013 that I would take it easier," the 71-year-old Medford resident said. "I figured out that I'm happier when I'm doing things to improve the community."
If he gets the primary nomination, Densmore could find himself running against Medford City Councilor Kim Wallan, who filed for the House District 6 race as a Republican after Esquivel announced he wouldn't seek another term.
Densmore said he was a Republican until a few months ago, saying he became a member of the Independent Party after deciding it better reflected his political beliefs. He was a registered Democrat from about 1970 to 1990. In 1976, he was elected mayor of Medford and served until 1983.
Out of the 33 years he was in public office, Densmore said he's held nonpartisan positions for 27 years.
"I think that has affected the way I think to this day," Densmore said.
He said being an Independent representative would provide him with more tools to seek common ground with Republicans and Democrats in Salem.
Because he hasn't been a member of the Independent Party for at least six months, Densmore said, he is required to get write-in votes to gain the nomination in the May primary.
In 1970, when he was 24, Densmore was elected to the Oregon House and served for six years while also working as a teacher in Medford.
He was elected to the Medford City Council in 2007, and was re-elected in 2010. When he announced in 2013 he was retiring, Densmore said he wanted to simplify his life.
During his time on the council, Densmore said, he was proud of the transportation projects that he helped shepherd, including the Springbrook Road realignment, Highway 62 improvements, and a $7.5 million upgrade on Lozier Lane. He also said the pedestrian bridge carrying the Bear Creek Greenway over Barnett Road has proved to be an asset for the city. The bridge was named after Densmore.
While Densmore has been a strong proponent of transportation projects over the years, he said Oregon has a large number of other important issues that must be faced. He said the state could do a lot more to bring down costs of health care and set a trend for the rest of the nation to follow.
"Look at all of the ways we've created, not by design, these cumbersome, ineffective systems," Densmore said.
Other big issues the state should continue to address are emergency preparedness, early childhood education and mental health treatment, he said.
Densmore said he wants to do more to boost Oregon's economy, increase incomes, tackle the housing shortage and work to improve the environment.
Densmore said he will be meeting with local residents in the coming weeks to see what their concerns are to help develop his goals as a legislator.