Candidates for State Representative District 40

A questionnaire was sent to candidates in the Portland-metro region, and below are the responses in regard to issues that are important to the Alliance and the business community.

* indicates Alliance endorsed candidate.

1. The Allianceís primary focus for the 2016 election cycle will be to support those candidates and ballot measure proponents who clearly and publicly join us in opposing Measure 97, the gross receipts tax measure, which will be so detrimental to Oregonís economy. What is your position on M97?
Mark Meek I support tax reform and appreciate the need for a stable source of revenue. I agree everyone should pay their fair share for services and infrastructure like education, transportation, and social programs. I will support whatever the voters decide in November, and if they do pass M97, I will work hard to ensure that a significant percentage of the new revenue goes to fund education so that our children have the best chance at a bright future we can give them. In general, I believe that the best way to find revenue solutions is through a collaborative consensus that brings all parties to the table. Should M97 pass, I will work together with the business community and legislators from both sides of the aisle to facilitate smooth implementation of the new law.
Evon Tekorius* I have been the only candidate in this district firmly opposed to IP28/M97 from the start of my campaign. I think that IP28/M97 will increase the cost of living for everyone in Oregon and drive businesses away from our state. As a small business owner with my husband, I have first-hand knowledge of how tough things are for businesses in this state already. I will be actively advocating against the gross receipts tax.
2. The 2015 Economic Impacts of Congestion shows that Portland-metro and the state of Oregon's competitiveness is largely dependent on efficient transportation. Failure to adequately invest in the system could cost the Portland-metro region $822 million annually by 2040 and close to 6,000 jobs. Do you support increased funding for a state transportation package? Would you work on a state transportation package in the 2017 legislative session that supports freight movement and removes bottlenecks through multimodal investments, including in roads and bridges?
Mark Meek Oregonís transportation infrastructure including our roads and bridges is no longer sufficient to meet the growing demands of our state. I will support a comprehensive transportation package in the coming legislative session that will not only update our infrastructure and make our highways safer, it will also create thousands of high-wage family- supporting jobs. The current state of our highway transportation system is slowing the delivery of goods and services to consumers and producers. We are losing productivity and our competitive edge as our workforce spends more time commuting than ever before. I would also like to see more investment in local transportation corridors allowing for more multimodal forms of transportation between communities and the return of a container shipper at the Port of Portland.
Evon Tekorius* Yes, I think a state transportation package is essential. Our freeways and bridges are not adequate for commerce transportation and we need to increase funding to maintain and expand our stateís transportation infrastructure. I do however believe we need to reform the Low Carbon Fuel Standard legislation as part of the funding plan for our roads along with added transparency from ODOT.
3. The Portland metro region functions as one labor and employment market. Workplace rules that impact business operations and costs, such as paid sick leave, minimum wage and others, can distort that market if local jurisdictions are able to adopt their own rules in an inconsistent manner. What do you believe is the role of the state versus local jurisdictions in setting workplace rules?
Mark Meek I believe workplace rules are best set through legislation and agency rulemaking. This allows for a level playing field for businesses across the state and considers regional and jurisdictional differences.
Evon Tekorius* I believe our state has already implemented labor laws that increase the cost of doing business. While many of these laws benefit workers we must be careful that we donít demand so much from the employers that it impedes growth. We need uniform policies at a state-level that arenít increased or augmented by local districts.
4. The Portland Business Alliance and its members have a long history of supporting education including career and technical education (CTE) and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. Last legislative session, we supported the legislatureís funding increase for these programs. How would you improve our stateís public education system and CTE and STEM programs?
Mark Meek I support the recent movement to provide free access to community colleges for young Oregonians. Furthermore, I support increasing CTE and STEM program funding. As a member of the Citizens Oversight Committee at Clackamas Community College I help to oversee the implementation of a $90 million bond that will build the Industrial Technical Center on the Oregon City campus where electronics, automotive, manufacturing, welding, skilled trade and apprenticeship programs will be offered. The bond will also fund an addition to the DeJardin Science building that will provide modern science labs for students. CTE and STEM programs open the door for recent high school graduates and adults who seek skills training as a way into family wage careers.
Evon Tekorius* As a school board member I see the positive impact that CTE and STEM programs have on our students. I believe we need to engage in meaningful partnerships with local businesses for field trips, tours and internships. Our high schools need dedicated career counselors that help kids plan for a future that focuses on what kind of employment they want - not what kind of a post-high school education they want. Our students need options and alternative tracks versus lumping everyone together on a four-year college trajectory. No one student is the same in their learning preferences Ė and not everyone has the capacity or desire to continue with a college education. We need to allow CTE programs to thrive in order to fill the rapidly shrinking trades and technical field to fill the positions older generations of Oregonians are retiring from.
5. Oregon funding for higher education continues to trail other states despite the significant increase in funding approved in the last legislative session. This puts a burden on students who face higher tuition costs and increased student debt. What is your position on funding for higher education and scholarship programs for students to improve access and completion?
Mark Meek I will look for avenues to increase funding for higher education and scholarship programs. It is because of public assistance programs that I was the first in my family to graduate from high school, and then after many years, received a college degree.
Evon Tekorius* We need to slow the increased cost of higher education by reducing wasteful spending and ensuring the money dedicated to higher education makes it to the classroom Ė just as we need to do the same in K-12. Our community colleges o?er both CTE and lower cost options to 4 year universities. We need to figure out how we can strengthen and support these programs. We also need to take education as a whole from the top of the chopping block to the bottom during the budgeting process.
6. The Value of Jobs Coalition's 2015 Middle-Income Jobs Report found that Portland- metro, like most of the nation, has seen low- and high-income jobs account for increasingly larger shares of the regionís overall employment base, while middle-income jobs, as a share of the regionís total employment, have dropped from 69 percent in 1980 to 57 percent in 2013. What would you do to increase the number of middle-income jobs in both urban and rural parts of our state?
Mark Meek We need an educated workforce to attract family wage jobs to our state. Educating tomorrowís workforce begins today at the K-12 level and continues all the way through our higher education institutions. We need to equip our students with a variety of skills and training to prepare them for the technical jobs of the future. I will work to find a dedicated stable source of funding for Oregonís education system. I will also focus on building strong public-private partnerships. With a strong private sector and quality public services we can build a healthy economy that leads to greater earning potential for working families.
Evon Tekorius* Again, I think we need to start early by reaching high school students and directing those that are interested into career choices in that middle-income bracket. Having land use laws that streamline and attract manufacturing businesses to Oregon will help provide middle- income jobs. We need to do more to help our job creators, especially in rural portions of Oregon. We have stacked the deck against middle-income jobs in the state with overbearing and redundant legislation and red-tape.
7. The same Middle Income Jobs Report found that Portland-metroís housing prices are becoming increasingly out of reach not only for low-income households, but also for middle- income households. The Alliance supported the inclusionary zoning legislation that was passed and signed into law in the 2016 session. What would you do to address housing affordability challenges and do you think this is a state issue or a local issue?
Mark Meek There is no single government program or policy change that will comprehensively address the statewide challenges we are facing in terms of affordable housing. I support the Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) Housing Program as well as previous legislation to lift the ban on inclusionary zoning. These programs are steps in the right direction toward solving our stateís affordable housing crisis. We need to increase the available inventory of both single and multi-family units. This is not an issue that can be solved at a single level of government. It will take partnerships between the state, local governments, and private partners to realize a meaningful solution.
Evon Tekorius* I think we need to provide incentives for developers for in-fill or EDU housing options. We should continue to work on inclusionary zoning, as well as consider expansion of urban growth boundaries in our urban and semi-urban areas. This, however must be done with the consideration of making land available for industrial growth at the same time.
8. Cities throughout the state are experiencing increases in the numbers of people experiencing homelessness. This issue is particularly acute in the city of Portland and the metro region, with thousands of individuals unsheltered on any given night. What is your view of the role of the state in addressing homelessness, as well as mental illness and drug addiction services, which are a contributing cause for some individuals?
Mark Meek There is no single government program or policy change that will comprehensively address the statewide challenges we are facing in terms of homelessness, addiction, and mental illness. It will take partnerships between the state, local governments, and private partners to realize a meaningful solution. As a legislator, I will focus on increasing funding for mental health and addiction services.
Evon Tekorius* While state provided safety-nets are important, I think they should take the form of transitional services. There is dignity in earning a living and working for something. Transitioning homeless to being contributing members of society is possible but requires our government to stand firm on the laws we have in place against camping on public property. We should also work with our regional and local charities to make sure we are e?ectively and e?ciently providing services to our most vulnerable populations.
9. The Portland-metro regionís geographic location on the Pacific Rim, deep-water and inland port system, international air connections and extensive road and rail infrastructure play a significant role in the growth of Oregon businesses and jobs. Many small, medium, and large businesses throughout the state rely on efficient connections to domestic and international markets. What is your view on the role of trade to our stateís economy and what can the state do to promote traded-sector opportunities?
Mark Meek I believe it is important for the state to promote traded-sector opportunities. Traded-sector jobs tend to pay a higher wage and offer better benefits to working families. As a legislator I will work to pass a comprehensive transportation package that will update our infrastructure and ease the challenges traded-sector industries face getting their goods to market. This will promote the trade of goods and services outside of the region of production and make our traded-sector stronger thus growing our economy.
Evon Tekorius* A majority of agricultural products produced in our state are exported. It is essential that these ports and transportation infrastructure is better maintained and increased in capacity to continue growth from farm (or business) to market. Trade throughout the Pacific Rim is vital to Oregonís economy.
10. The Alliance is committed to ensuring an adequate supply of shovel ready industrial lands to support job retention and growth. Manufacturing, in particular, requires industrial land and provides higher wages and better benefits than non-manufacturing jobs, particularly for non- whites and non-English-speaking workers. In a previous session, the Alliance supported a bill that would have allowed the state to provide loans and grants to jurisdictions to make industrial land market ready; the policy passed, but no associated funding was approved. What do you believe is the role of the state in helping local jurisdictions promote adequate industrial lands that are shovel ready for development?
Mark Meek The state has a vested interest in helping local jurisdictions promote adequate industrial lands that are shovel ready for development. If the state and local governments partner in this effort it will benefit both. Economic growth strengthens our communities and state. I will advocate to fund programs such as this because successful communities equal a successful state.
Evon Tekorius* The state should continue to partner with industries in our state to ensure large shovel-ready projects are fast-tracked. We also need to continue ensuring we have adequate industrial zoned land in our highest production areas and balance those lands with medium income residential properties so that people can live near their places of work.