House District 11 Rep. Marty Wilde is being challenged by newcomer Katie Boshart Glaser in the upcoming general election.
Wilde represents the Democratic and Working Families parties and is also an Independent nominee. Glaser, sister to District 15 incumbent Rep. Shelly Boshart Glaser, is the GOP candidate.
The contested seat represents a swath of the mid-valley from Linn to Lane counties, including all or parts of: Brownsville, Cedar Flat, Cloverdale, Coburg, Crawfordsville, Creswell, Deerhorn, Eugene, Goshen, Glenwood, Halsey, Harrisburg, Holley, Jasper, Leaburg, Lebanon, Marcola, Mohawk, Peoria, Pleasant Hill, Shedd, Springfield, Sodaville, Sweet Home, Thurston, Trent, Walterville, and Wendling.
Both said they wish to prioritize funding and advocating for education as well as trade schools if securing the vote.
“We have too many people graduating with debt,” Wilde said. “It’s really important that kids have the same shot at the American Dream that I had.”
The 43-year-old also said he wants to look for ways to fully fund need-based higher education so that “poverty isn’t a barrier to accomplishment.” For example, when high school seniors fill out their FAFSAs and get their demonstrated need quotes back, Wilde said he wants the state to be able to cover it.
Glaser, 33, said she wants to find more ways to help underfunded schools, rather than “slapping Band-Aids” on such a consistent issue.
“It’s really hard to legislate out of Salem something that will work for every school district,” she said, noting Central Linn schools in Halsey as an example. “No school ever has enough money. ‘Why is that?’ would be the big question.”
Glaser added that trade schools need more love. Having taken that option herself, she said students should be aware that trade schools are viable options as much as any university.
“I 100% know that universities have (their) place and I’m completely behind universities,” Glaser said. But, students should know that they “don’t have to go through that four-year university before they decide that they want to do something different.”
Especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both candidates emphasized ensuring their constituents have reasonable access to healthcare. Wilde took a keen interest in helping people in the middle class who still lack coverage.
“I grew up on Medicaid and it kept me healthy so I could go to school and be what I wanted to be,” Wilde said. “We still lack affordable coverage for people who make slightly too much money.”
Glaser said the issue closest to her heart is a lack of access to mental healthcare. She said her plan would be to expand the district's access and address potential insurance obstacles.
“Our society is really hurting because of it,” she said, noting that many issues with addiction, homelessness and the like can stem from unaddressed mental health issues.
Wilde also said he wishes to address homelessness and access to low-income housing, which has become exasperated during the pandemic and recent wildfire devastation.
“Too many of our neighbors are still living on the streets,” he said. “Basic shelter is a critical need. We need to increase the share of housing.”
As for wildfire victims, Wilde added, once hazardous waste has been sufficiently removed, he wants to focus on “rebuilding in a more thoughtful way.” After the fires, some property owners found that their structures were not up to code, so Wilde said he’s drafting a bill to make sure those requirements are met from now on.
Glaser said she plans on securing legislation that will grant small businesses more liability protection due to the continued risk of sickness and closures.
“We need to make sure that our state will be able to get back on its feet,” she said. “The only way that we can have a healthy society … is if we have healthy businesses. They all go hand-in-hand together.”
Wilde said, if reelected, he will continue to infuse his decades of Air National Guard experience and morals into his work.
“When I enlisted in the military they taught me to leave no one behind,” he said, “and that’s the ethic I take with all my public service.”
Glaser said she wants to be a model of cooperation and unity in the state legislature if given the opportunity by voters.
“Now is the time to really bring people together and make sure all voices and opinions are being heard,” she said. “I want to be someone who is more moderate, who works across the aisle and can have a conversation with everyone.”
Nia Tariq can be reached at 541-812-6091. Follow her on Twitter @NiaTariq.