REDMOND, OR -- Retiring State Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) was a fixture in Salem. His long-time District 53 seat is now held by Republican Jack Zika, who was recently appointed to three key committees in advance of the upcoming session: Human Services & Housing, Energy & Environment and Veterans Services & Emergency Preparedness.
Because of his work as a realtor and experience on Redmond's Planning Commission, Zika says becoming a member of the Human Services and Housing Committee was his first choice, "They send out a form and they ask you what your preferences are, and of course I put housing on there because that's my expertise." He says, "They wanted a Republican that was excited about housing, and I am passionate about housing, so it seemed like a perfect fit. I'm excited, because it seems like there are some things they're not doing when it comes to supply and demand for housing, and I think we can really try to fix some of our land use laws, and maybe we can grow at a pace that would provide affordable housing." He tells KBND News, "I'm hoping to go in there and let them know that we need to keep our tax deduction to help keep our housing affordable and we can't impose rent control, because that's just going to reduce the rentals available."
Zika is not a supporter of Cap and Trade, but says serving on the Energy and Environment Committee will give him the chance to come up with solutions for the 2050 deadline to reduce carbon emissions by 80%. And, he says he's always known staging for emergency personnel is an important issue in Central Oregon that doesn't always get enough attention, "I'm actually really excited about Veterans and Emergency Preparedness. I'll get to help out the veterans community, and also learn more about our emergency preparedness."
He'll be sworn in with all newly elected state lawmakers on January 14.