BEND, OR -- Two locals are vying for the Republican nomination for retiring Representative Gene Whisnant's House District 53 seat. Self-described "Lifelong Conservative Political Activist" Ben Schimmoller has been following the short session and is interested in several issues, including the Right to Health Care and House Bill 4135. "And then, also, the Gun Confiscation bill. I think veterans struggling with PTSD will be worried about coming forward for fear of losing their 2nd Amendment rights that they went and fought for."
Redmond Real Estate broker, Jack Zika
, says affordable housing and fiscal responsibility are his focus, but he, too, is concerned about HB 4135, the changes to the advance directive form. He thinks this session may be too short to give that discussion its proper due, "When they first came up with the form, there was hundreds of hours of testimony and hearing, and this session, they've done it in just a week, so I think a little bit more thought needs to be put into it."
When asked what, if anything, they'd do differently than the long-serving Whisnant, Schimmoller says Whisnant's contributions to Oregon's House inspired him to run. "I appreciate his conservative perspective. I have great appreciation and respect for his service." Zika also believes Whisnant has done good things for Oregon. "He's a big advocate for education, so I'd like to continue that, and strive for better schools. I think maybe I could be a little bit louder, a little bit more of a squeaky wheel."
They both feel that Central Oregon's issues aren't always given much play in the State Legislature. Schimmoller says his campaign is focused on what he believes are Central Oregon's main issues, "If there isn't somebody talking about veterans more, and business more, and Second Amendment more, we're going to really see a[n] eroding of the rights and the values of Central Oregon." Zika says he's the more experienced candidate for the job, and he's very excited by the prospect of representing District 53. "I'm on the Board of Directors for our State Realtors, I'm on our Government Affairs Committee, I'm Vice President of the Central Oregon Association of Realtors, so I have a lot of board work, a lot of committee work, and I'm also on a planning commission for the City of Redmond, and so I've done a lot of zoning work, a lot of land use laws, things of that nature."