As much as we love life in Eastern Oregon, there are certain challenges that come with living as far as we do from the state capital.
Technology can help bridge the gap, but it’s difficult getting inside the sphere of influence when statewide decisions are being made. We have fewer voters and taxpayers, and even though our challenges look different than those in metro areas, they’re just as plentiful.
That’s why it’s important to have strong elected representation in the halls and the floor of the Capitol. And it’s why Rep. Greg Smith, though running unopposed, gets our full endorsement for the position.
Smith is the elder statesman of the Oregon House, if you can believe it. He won his first term in the Legislature in 2000 when he was 32 years old and his energy belies the 17 years he has spent representing the district.
We’ve said it before, but if there were more people like Smith in politics, a lot more would get done — and the people’s will would be better represented. During his tenure he has learned valuable lessons on where to leave ideology at the door and embrace cooperation. When we as voters and taxpayers send a representative to Salem, we want them to deliver our message on how we’d like the state to operate, and bring back the most good they can for the district.
Smith has learned those aren’t mutually exclusive, and because of his hard work and alliance building has earned the co-vice chair position on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. It’s the purse strings of the state, so to speak, and funding for projects in deep Portland to the far reaches of Malheur County must receive that committee’s approval. His district — including the largest cities of Hermiston, Umatilla and Milton-Freewater and all of Morrow, Gilliam and Wheeler counties — has benefited greatly from his ability to find agreement with legislators regardless of party or constituency. His reputation alone gives District 57 clout.
In these highly-charged political times, it’s refreshing to have a representative who can present a well-reasoned conservative argument and continue working toward the good of his more liberal state, but especially his increasing diverse constituency.
We typically don’t endorse candidates running unopposed, but feel Smith’s work has earned him the full support of this editorial board. And we’d bet that if you ask around his district and the Capitol, you’ll find a majority that agrees.
We’re proud to send Greg Smith back to Salem.