Like many of you, I'm a small business owner. And like you, I believe in working hard and playing by the rules. Whether you own or work for a bed & breakfast, a fishing boat, a restaurant or on a small farm, you know that creativity and industriousness should be recognized, empowered, and rewarded. That's how we create jobs on the coast!
To properly allocate public dollars, hard decisions need to be made. We need to focus on creating opportunities that offer a living wage and a prosperous future to working families. That requires a well-maintained transportation network to support our economic health. At the same time, we also need to balance economic development with environmental sustainability. Oregon has a wealth of natural beauty and natural resources. I am committed to preserving both for future generations to use and enjoy.
I remain committed to proper funding for education, health care and public safety. I believe in good schools for our kids and grandkids, safe neighborhoods, and independence and dignity for our older neighbors. You will find me a particularly vocal supporter of community colleges, Small Business Development Centers and of "buy local" programs. These tools help our communities to support each other and thrive.
We live in a part of the state blessed with natural beauty and remarkable economic potential. But the median family income here is $33,000. We have record unemployment, overcrowded classrooms, and a disturbing disconnect between the jobs available and people seeking work. The economy, schools, health care, and the justice system all need attention! It will take all of us working together to address these issues and prepare Oregon and her people to meet their full potential.
Create Good Jobs: I believe hard work should pay off with a secure income, affordable health care and a sustainable, healthy future. By investing in Oregon we encourage businesses to excel and communities to thrive. My focus will be on creating an environment for small businesses to succeed, provide re-training opportunities to get people back in the workforce, and investing in local infrastructure that creates and supports new businesses. This is a small-business district and I am a small businessman. I want to be an advocate for employees and owners that are taking risks and making the effort to put people back to work.
Protect Middle Class Families: Life is good at the beach. But it is harder for some than for others. We need to stand up for the middle class Oregonians hit hardest by the national recession, helping them keep their homes, find secure jobs and get back to prosperity. We need to provide more affordable housing for people who want to work here. I'll hold insurance companies accountable, make sure banks work with families whose homes are under-water or facing foreclosure, and protect our schools and our seniors.
Prioritize Critical Services: Citizens deserve to know how our tax dollars are being spent. Oregon State government works best when it is open, transparent and efficient, giving Oregonians the information and resources they need. I'll work to streamline services, reduce unnecessary layers of management, and hold private contractors accountable in order to prioritize services Oregonians rely on such as schools, protecting seniors, and public safety.
Accountability: When government or government contractors screw-up, they need to be held accountable. Thatís how it works in the private sector and it should be no different when tax dollars are at stake. Oregon deserves more transparency, better oversight, and consequences as well. At the same time, we need to do a better job of pursuing people who disregard their responsibility to the rest of us. Iím talking about tax cheats who deny the state over a billion dollars a year and businesses that forget to pay fees or fines. You pay your fair share and so should everyone else!
Promote Affordable Health Care: Everyone should have access to affordable health care. But out-of-control costs have made health insurance unaffordable to hundreds of thousands of Oregonians. And for many who have insurance, high deductibles make it too expensive to use. I am encouraged by ongoing discussions to consolidate care, reduce costs, and promote wellness. Keeping people healthy is more cost effective than treating illness. I will be working hard on health care reform.
Protect the Environment: We have a solemn responsibility to protect the remarkable place in which we are privileged to live. I will work hard to protect and preserve Oregon's unique environment. I see this not only as an ecological imperative, but also as basic economic good sense. On our beaches, our headlands, our forests and our lakes, a welcoming environment means jobs.
Earthquake Awareness: We hear news every day about the impending "big one". And we need to take those warnings seriously. But we will not live in fear or abandon our homes, businesses, this beautiful coastline, or our dreams for the future. We will prepare. We will withstand. And we will recover. Planning and preparation now will save lives later. And as we work to improve our schools, homes, bridges, and roads, if we never see that 9.0 earthquake, we will be left with better schools, better bridges and roads, and better prepared communities.
Oregon has almost 4 million residents. They don't agree on everything, so it's no surprise that their elected representatives don't either.
But Oregonians are tired of politicians who see everything through a partisan filter. We all know that no person, group, or political party has a monopoly on the truth. Oregonians have a right to expect their elected officials to work together, even when they disagree, to achieve meaningful results. And twenty-five years of marriage has taught me that compromising isn't losing...
I respect those with opposing views and will actively seek out common ground wherever I can find it. I believe that working together, we can make things better.
Representing the people of this wonderful district is one of the great honors of my life. I look forward to working with you to build strong, secure and vibrant communities where families and retirees can thrive.