Recommendations in political races are usually fairly easy to decide. One candidate tends to rise above the others in preparation, demeanor, grasp of the issues and dedication to representing constituents. But sometimes, we wish we could recommend more than one.
That’s the case in the race for State Senate District 3, which encompasses Medford, Ashland, Phoenix, Talent, Jacksonville and part of the Applegate Valley.
This year the seat is open. Incumbent Sen. Alan DeBoer, R-Ashland, decided to step down after two years in office, having won the special election necessitated by the sudden death of Sen. Alan Bates, D-Medford.
Jessica Gomez, a Medford businesswoman who worked for DeBoer as an aide, is the Republican nominee, facing off against Ashland Democrat Jeff Golden, a longtime radio and television host and former Jackson County commissioner.
Both candidates bring strengths to the race, and both are sincere and well-versed in the issues. Most of their differences are of degree, although they part ways on a couple of statewide ballot measures. Notably, Gomez supports Measure 104, which would require a three-fifths super-majority in both houses of the Legislature to repeal or reduce tax breaks and tax credits or increase fees. Golden opposes the move as restricting tools lawmakers need to manage state finances.
Gomez also supports Measure 106, which would prohibit the state from using tax dollars to pay for abortions for women on the Oregon Health Plan, although she says she does not oppose abortion rights. Golden says government provides all kinds of services that some people object to, and needs to be able to do that to function properly.
Both candidates oppose Measure 105, which would repeal Oregon’s three-decade-old law enacted to discourage ethnic profiling by police by barring state funds from being used to enforce federal immigration law absent any criminal wrongdoing.
Golden and Gomez agree that mechanical thinning of overgrown forests and prescribed burning are important tools to address wildfires and the smoke they create. Gomez also advocates salvage logging of fire-damaged trees.
Both of these candidates are bright, capable and committed. We wish we could send both of them to Salem. But on balance, we think Golden’s long background in public policy gives him the edge, and we recommend voters choose him in Senate District 3.