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Health care, gold are issues in Gov’s race

Both candidates say Gov. Ted Kulongoski has not been proactive

January 4, 2006

Two gubernatorial candidates from opposite ends of the political spectrum agree on one thing: Gov. Ted Kulongoski is not getting the job done in Salem.

Republican Gordon Leitch and Democrat Pete Sorenson have both visited Hood River to share very different viewpoints. The one thing that both challengers agree on is that Oregon needs a more “proactive” leader.

“I think we’d have a more stable economy and see more domestic tranquility if we restored our constitutional money rights,” said Leitch. “There is a great deal of misunderstanding and confusion about how the problems that we face now are tied to our monetary system.”

“The governor has been so complacent that he has not developed a plan to take care of Oregon’s education and health care needs,” said Sorenson. “The gravity of this to the people affected is very real.”

Following are excerpts from interviews with both Leitch and Sorenson about key issues of their 2006 campaigns:

Leitch

Leitch, a retired eye doctor, has taken a dramatic departure from other Republican contenders. He contends that gold and silver coins should be restored as the state currency because that is constitutional.

By once again circulating precious metals, Leitch anticipates Oregon’s economy will grow strong enough to provide a 50-percent reduction in property taxes. He said business growth would be furthered by a 90 percent cut in the state capital gains tax. And no tax should be levied on U.S. gold and silver coin savings account interest at banks chartered in Oregon.

Leitch believes that restoration of the “true dollar” will actually stimulate business growth by removing financial uncertainty. He said paper money that is not backed by a fixed currency encourages runaway credit and debt expansion. And that drives up inflation and makes it more difficult for families to buy homes and for businesses to stay open.

“Our dollar today is on the order of a promissory note and it has created a credit bubble and a lot of unemployment,” said Leitch. “We’ve just been printing money and it’s like the government is the chief counterfeiter.”

He believes that controlled mining for gold in Oregon counties would also generate new jobs. For example, he said the Nevada Department of Minerals contends that 4.8 employment opportunities are created by every mining job.

“I think knowing exactly what we’re working with in our monetary system would strengthen the economy,” he said.

He said both the U.S. and Oregon constitutions require that gold be used for currency. And silver was the most common payment for ordinary transactions through the 19th century.

However, Leitch said metal coins were abandoned in favor of paper money by the federal government in 1933 to better control the flow of commerce. And from that time on the printed bill has ceased to be backed by anything other than consumer confidence.

“People don’t realize that this is what’s going on,” said Leitch. “You are really dealing with something that had no true value and is basically a perfect counterfeit.”

He recommends that all citizens read the Federalist Papers to better understand the complex issue. He said these essays on the proposed constitution were written and published by some of the nation’s founders between 1778-88. These writings, said Leitch, explain how the new government was intended to operate and why a Republic operated on the gold standard was the most secure choice.

He said the further the U.S. has gotten away from constitutional principles, the more uncertain the economy has become. If Oregon leads the way in returning to a solid financial foundation, Leitch believes other states will follow.

“I’ve got a strategy that’s going to evolve over time but everything that I’m doing and that I intend to do is backed up with the law,” he said.

Leitch, who retired in 1994, owns homes in Dundee and Baker City. He is the fourth Republican candidate to file in the governor’s race. Also making a bid for the office are David Beem and Kevin Mannix, both of Salem, and William E. Spidal of Nehalem. Ron Saxton of Portland and Sen. Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point, are also considering a run at the lead Oregon role.

For more information on Leitch’s campaign access www.leitch4govr.com or call (503) 296-6200.

Sorenson

Sorenson, a Lane County Commissioner, follows the Democratic party line on most issues. However, he believes that Kulongoski has abandoned the principles to protect working families for which his party stands.

“I think it’s a shame that one out of every five people in the state of Oregon doesn’t have access to health insurance.” said Sorenson. “I have been pretty disappointed about the governor’s inaction on this problem.”

Sorenson contends that Kulongoski has also passed over several opportunities to stabilize education funding. And that, he said, has made it more difficult for Oregon to produce the well-trained workforce that will attract new businesses. He believes it will be possible to generate more revenue without increasing taxation by stopping the duplication of services.

For example, he said the state maintains an office to promote economic development. And that funding, said Sorenson, should be distributed among the 36 counties in Oregon who better know their individual needs.

“It rankles me that we have this duplication of services,” he said.

Another huge potential for income, said Sorenson, is to eliminate “unfairness” in taxation. He said that individuals and small businesses currently pay more in taxes than profitable corporations.

For example, his daughter, Jennifer, 22, is working part-time at a shoe store while attending college. Last year, she paid $155 in taxes on that small income, said Sorenson, and that was more than the $10 in annual tax that two-thirds of corporations put into the public coffers.

He anticipates that closing tax loopholes for large companies will generate another $64 million in biennium revenue for educational programs and essential services. And, if the annual tax were raised even slightly, Sorenson said that would provide even more income for the state to work with. Plus, he wants to end the luxury tax deductions available to the wealthy for their second and third homes and for pleasure boats. He said pleasure boat write-offs already cost Oregon over $27 million in lost taxes each budget cycle.

Sorenson is also questioning why taverns and other businesses who house Oregon Lottery machines get a 28.8 percent return rate. He said ECONorthwest, a respected economic firm, recently determined that 15 percent was a reasonable rate – which would increase education dollars by millions.

“The word is out now that Oregon has poor schools,” said Sorenson. “The current governor doesn’t want to do anything differently and that is driving revenue away.”

A devout conservationist, Sorenson, an attorney and former senator, took the lead role in protecting the Bull Run watershed from development. He believes that Oregon’s population needs to grow in a way that does not harm its natural resources.

Sorenson, who resides in Eugene, will face off with Kulongoski in the May primary on the Democratic ticket. Former Gov. John Kitzhaber has stated that he is also considering another run at the office.

For more information on Sorenson’s candidacy access www.petesorenson.com or call (541) 302-5929.

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