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Eastern Oregon voters voice opinions for change

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LA GRANDE — Oregon’s gubernatorial race has thrust the state into the national spotlight. With three candidates, Republican Christine Drazan, Democrat Tina Kotek and Betsy Johnson, unaffiliated, it’s a tight race.

The Fund for Oregon Rural Journalism, a nonprofit supporting professional news publications in rural areas, partnered with students from University of Oregon’s Catalyst Journalism Project to provide a platform to give voters a chance to voice their hopes and concerns in all regions of the state. The project focuses on the lessor heard voices: young and rural.

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Pat Owens, owner of PnD Knives and Sharpening Services in La Grande, was one of several residents in Eastern Oregon who spoke to reporters for the Voter Voices project.

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Judith Burger, who works for the Pendleton Underground Tours and serves on the Travel Pendleton board, was one of several voters from Eastern Oregon who spoke to reporters for the Voter Voices project. She talked about the slower, manageable pace of a rural lifestyle.

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Lesa Bunten, who helps around at the Royal Artisan in Baker City, was one of several voters from Eastern Oregon who spoke to reporters for the Voter Voices project. She talked about Oregon’s diverse array of regional needs and contrasting lifestyles challenges rural traditions and livelihoods, and family values and education superseded the urbanization of Baker County.

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Chelsa Mitchell, the owner of Mad Habit in Baker City, was one of several voters from Eastern Oregon who spoke to reporters for the Voter Voices project. She wishes to see more growth and diversity in Baker City.

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Colleen MacLeod, a owner of Joe Beans in La Grande with her husband, Al, was one of several voters from Eastern Oregon who spoke to reporters for the Voter Voices project. She said locals and youth in particular in Union County are suffering from a lack of employment and aren’t receiving equal funding compared to urban regions.

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Sarah Wynn, who works at Bella’s Main Street Market in Baker City for four years, was one of several voters from Eastern Oregon who spoke to reporters for the Voter Voices project. She hopes to see a more civil and progressive dialogue among residents.

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