BEND, OR -- With just five days until the election, campaigns are pulling out all the stop; in many cases, launching personal attacks against their opponents. Not the candidates for House District 53. Democrat Eileen Kiely, of Sunriver, and Republican Jack Zika, of Redmond, say they’ve made a conscious effort to not go negative. "I had a lot of faith that we were going to run on issues because I think it’s flat out inappropriate," says Kiely, "You only need to say negative things about your opponent if you don’t have anything positive about yourself." Zika adds, "Now, Eileen and I do differ on a few things. In the debates that we’ve had, we’ve made sure to bring that up against each other. But, it’s never got nasty. That’s nice; I appreciate that. It’s made for a better campaign."
On the issues, they vary widely. Zika believes the state doesn't need to raise taxes, "I think we can pay our bills, we just need to prioritize. We need to make sure what are wants and what are needs. And, we have to take care of education, healthcare, public safety. Right now, Oregon, for revenue coming in per capita, we’re eighth out of the whole nation." While Kiely would like to focus on the general fund, which is used to pay for key services like education and law enforcement, "And, that’s one of the reasons the Oregon Business Plan, which represents a lot of the business leaders in Oregon, is saying it’s time to raise business taxes as part of an overall comprehensive budget."
Both candidates agree the state should allow more local control over finding solutions to the affordable housing crisis. Kiely stands behind Measure 102 and says there should be more public and private partnerships, "The actual solutions are going to be implemented by counties and cities because those are the people that understand their population. What works for us in Central Oregon is not the same as what works in Portland." Zika thinks the focus should be on zoning, "We have a whole bunch of land on the east side of Bend that would be better suited developing. Right now, it’s zoned Exclusive Farm Use zone, so you can’t touch it. So, if we were able to rezone that and make it easier for counties and cities to collaborate together and have regional control of our land use laws, we could grow how we see fit."
Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with Eileen Kiely and Jack Zika. For more on the candidates, visit our Elections Page. Ballots are due by 8 p.m. Tuesday. It's too late to put them in the mail, and should be taken to an official drop site. As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly 33% of Deschutes County voters had already turned in their ballots.