By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Colm Willis would like to take Rep. Kurt Schrader’s place in Washington, D.C.
So would Ben West, Seth Allan and Earl Rainey.
The four Republicans took part in a debate April 21 at Keizer Civic Center in front of about 100 people. Each is hoping to win the May 17 primary for the chance to knock Schrader from his Congressional District 5 seat in the November general election.
Jeff Heyen, vice chair of the Marion County Republicans, said the race is a critical one in terms of protecting freedoms in Oregon.
“They need to be our guardians,” Heyen said.
Talk radio host Gator Gaynor of Gator’s Radio Experience on KYKN served as debate moderator and asked 14 questions of each candidate, following opening statements for each.
“I grew up understanding and knowing America is the most exceptional country ever,” West said. “I wonder if it will continue to be exceptional or to be in decline. What will my son inherit?”
Allan emphasized the need for a change.
“We are at a turning point,” he said. “We are losing our First Amendment, religious and Second Amendment freedoms. I don’t want to pass off a nation that’s worse off than it is now.”
Rainey, who apologized for not being a good speaker, noted he’s a conservative Republican.
“I’m tired of our tyrannical government,” Rainey said. “We can do what’s right for Oregon. I would like to take back the state lands and return them to the state and to the Native Americans.”
Willis, a small business lawyer from Stayton, echoed Allan’s thoughts.
“I believe this is a critical moment,” Willis said. “If we get this wrong, our children will be in a country that has become socialist. I raise my family in a 100-year-old farm. My wife works as a nurse and I recently opened my own business. The people in Congress have left people like us behind.”
For the most part, the candidates expressed similar views on the questions. For example, each view the Constitution as a dead document that shouldn’t be reinterpreted. Each got going on a question about immigration.
“We need to secure our borders,” Willis said. “We have a system, which we need to enforce. It allows us to know who’s coming into our country. Illegal immigration is not safe for our country.”
West pointed to last year’s fatal shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.
“This is a big deal, a major concern,” said West, a Wilsonville resident. “With San Bernardino, authorities were afraid to check their Facebook accounts because of being politically correct. It’s going to take something that’s not PC to fix it.”
Allan took things a step further.
“It’s outrageous that Barack Obama allows in radical Muslims, yet holds back Christians,” Allan said. “It’s outrageous and it needs to stop. Our president is unwilling to put our country in front of political correctness. We have people that mean us harm. We saw that in San Bernardino.”
Rainey said people trying to sneak into other countries are shot or put into jail.
“Are we going to have another 9/11 10 times over?” Rainey asked rhetorically. “We need to vet these people coming in or don’t let them in at all.”
All agreed a balanced budget is required, with West calling the current debt level a “moral issue.” Rainey said there’s a simple place to start.
“We need to start eliminating federal jobs and get rid of big government,” he said. “That right there will help.”
Allan said the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) needs to be abolished and there should be a flat 15 percent tax, while Willis called tax levels too high and unfair.
“The amount you pay depends more on your lobbyist than how much you make,” Willis said. “It’s ridiculous that you can hire someone and that determines the rate.”