The race for state senate, district 9, is between the incumbent Sen. Fred Girod , R-Stayton, and challenger Steve Frank, D-Stayton.
Lebanon is the largest city in District 9.
Girod recently had a tumor removed in his throat after discovering he had cancer in his tonsils, but said his health will not be an issue in his next term, should he be re-elected.
“It was a very early diagnosis,” he said. “There was no ulceration of the tonsil.”
Because he is a dentist, he noticed a change in his soft palate, one of the symptoms of the cancer.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in this state who loves rural Oregon more than I do,” he said. “I think it needs to be protected from extremes in Portland and Eugene, and I’m the guy to do it.”
Girod has served as state senator since 2007, when he was appointed. Before that, he was a state representative in the house.
One of the biggest culprits of air pollution right now is the Sierra Club, he said.
“They say we’re not going to harvest trees, and that’s going to be green,” Girod explained. “What they don’t take into consideration is you set the forests up for huge fires.”
One of the ways he would help the timber industry is by opening up state forests to higher yield, which would create more jobs and lower Linn County’s stagnant unemployment rates.
“Our economy is natural resource based,” he said. “Anything we can do to help agriculture and timber, the two biggest parts of the economy, and small business. That’s the way you’re going to turn around the unemployment rate.”
That, combined with education, are the two prongs to getting Oregon out of the recession, Girod said.
Education funding needs to be prioritized, Girod said, and he is willing to do just that.
Although there isn’t much he can do about the public employees retirement system, there are a few things he is looking at.
“There are two parts of the PERS thing that may come under review,” he said.
The system allows for two different return rates. One part guarantees workers 8 percent return on investment from the time they start the job until the day they retire. The second part is from the day they retire until they die.
“We may be able to change that from 8 percent to 4 or 6 percent,” Girod said. He was not confident about overturning the Oregon State Supreme Court’s decision on the retirement system.
“There’s a separation of powers,” he said. “It’s very difficult to overturn a supreme court decision. I’m not sure it shouldn’t go to the ballot box, but they could rule that unconstitutional as well.”
Changing the way PERS is calculated from retirement until death would make the state whole again, he said.
Another way he said he would help education funding is by looking at some large agencies that don’t have to be as large.
“We don’t need a full-fledged DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality), we have EPA (Environmental Protection Agency),” he said. “We could make cuts in that to get money to education.”
Girod supports the efforts of Rep. Sherrie Sprenger to allow some cougar hunting with dogs in Linn County.
“I’m going to do anything I can to get it through the senate,” he said. “The number of cougars has just exploded.”
Ultimately, he said he would like to get the hunting ban overturned completely, but noted, “Portland has a different set of values.”
Girod said he adamantly opposed the ban on Native American mascots.
He said he would work with Sprenger to put together a solution.
One solution would be to allow native tribes to weigh in. If they were OK with it, the mascot could stay, Girod said.
The second solution would be to take away the enforcement of the ban, which would not allow the state to withhold funding for schools that did not comply.
Girod said he has 18 little cities in District 9.
With a population of just more than 15,000, “Lebanon is my New York,” he said.
If he is re-elected, Girod said people may feel free to contact him with any issues that arise, and he will do his best to promote it.