General Election: 2022 Candidates for Local Office
Written Questions & Responses –

Getting to know Lucetta Elmer, candidate for HD 24.

Interpersonal dynamics, including across party lines, contribute to the success of the legislature. How will you contribute to healthy interpersonal dynamics?

Interpersonal healthy dynamics is one of my strengths. It is important to build relationships with people and be a good communicator, which in my opinion starts with being a great listener. An example of how I have done this in my community is that when I was a board member for the McMinnville Chamber of Commerce, I was also at the same time, a board member of the McMinnville Downtown Association. I was asked to be the liaison between the two boards to help bolster the working relationship between the two community organizations that had some trouble in the past working together in a positive way. Success was achieved and these two groups continue to have a healthy, community minded working relationship. I would bring this same spirit to the legislature so that issues that impact the state are the focus, rather than political agendas being the focus.

What are your principal motivations for running for this office?

My principal motivations for running to be the state representative for District 24 are to fight for small businesses and be an advocate for strong and effective government leadership. I want to see Oregon return to being a business friendly state and I want to help streamline processes to let businesses do what they do best: enrich our communities with the services and experiences they provide.

What do you see as the most promising broad path forward for a more business friendly Oregon?

The most promising broad path to create a more business friendly Oregon is what I referenced in the previous question. We need to work together (private and public entities) to support one another to help our state succeed. In business, this can look like a more precise, clear path to obtain tools needed to simply do business. Whether that be a builder obtaining permits to start a building project and not having to pay tens of thousands of dollars as well as wait months at a time to begin, or a business being allowed to stay open and operate without government limiting the capacity in how and when they run their business.

Describe a time in which your thinking about an important public issue has changed because of your interaction with someone who disagreed with you.

About ten years ago, I believed that people living on the streets were there because they chose to be (maybe through their own cognitive choice or maybe because their actions landed them there). Either way, I judged them with an attitude of disrespect because I assumed they should just try harder. I met a woman because she was working at a business I owned and she shared her story of living on the streets for five years. It broke my heart and I realized that due to circumstances out of her control, she landed where she did. She needed help and support and if she hadn’t received that through her family and community programs, she may still be sleeping in a dumpster instead of having her own home.

When your term ends, if it was deemed successful, what would you have accomplished?

When my term ends, if it was deemed successful, I think the community members of District 24 would say they feel as if they live in a place that is safer, more economically stable and has more options available to them when it comes to where their kids attend school, and when seeking out affordable housing.

Getting to know Casey Banks, candidate for Newberg City Council, District 2.

What are your principal motivations for running for this office?

Running for office was not something I had considered until a few Newberg leaders I respect invited me to run due to my passion for affordable housing and supporting the city’s goals of fostering a culture of inclusivity and planning for long-term development. I care about seeking the welfare of our city, especially as I am raising my daughter here. Because Newberg is experiencing significant growth and cultural-political divisiveness, I believe my experience as a pastor guiding people through crisis, conflict, and change will be useful to our city in the coming years.

Interpersonal dynamics contribute to the success of the city council. How will you contribute to healthy interpersonal dynamics?

I find that important work, especially contentious work, is done best by people who trust one another, who believe each person at the table has common interests at heart, and respect one another even in disagreements. While co-workers don’t have to be friends, I believe in creating space for co-workers to learn each other’s hearts. We need opportunities, either as a group or in one-on-one conversations, to share what keeps us up at night, what breaks our heart, what change we hope to see in the world and why. If elected, it is my intention to meet with each councilor to better learn their stories, values, and passions and always practice the principles of the Civility Pledge so that our work for the city can be the best work we have within us. When cross-cultural dynamics are present, healthy interpersonal relationships require intentional learning to become competent communicators. I receive such trainings through my professional work and would be eager to participate in similar trainings with city council and staff.

When your term ends, if it was deemed successful, what would you have accomplished?

City Council action on the Housing Production Strategy, zoning laws, and building processes will result in more affordable apartments and modest homes, especially near public transit with walkable neighborhoods, with realistic solutions available for those needing emergency temporary shelter. The city would have composting services to turn organic waste into a valuable resource and incentives will be in place for homeowners and business owners to renovate and build with environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient designs. Newberg tourism will thrive and workers will have access to good-paying jobs without long commutes.

Describe a time in which your thinking about an important public issue has changed because of your interaction with someone who disagreed with you.

My husband significantly reshaped the way I think about gun safety. I grew up fairly sheltered from gun culture and would have supported just about any gun reform legislation that used the phrases “military style” or “assault weapon.” My husband grew up in a hunting family, and as a Marine veteran, he was highly trained in weapon safety. We both supported safety but we disagreed about what gun regulation should look like and what kinds of weapons should be reserved for military only. The day I had my ah-ha moment was when he took a wood stock hunting rifle and swapped the stock of the gun for a black tactical stock and added a scope. All of a sudden that gun looked much scarier because of associations I had learned through entertainment media…and yet the function of the gun had not changed one bit. It was still a hunting rifle meant to shoot squirrels and rabbits for dinner. It made me realize that in order to talk about gun safety regulation, I needed to have a better understanding of the specific features involved and not base policy choices merely on assumptions, ambiguous phrases, or broad categorizations. Now, I don’t speak of “assault weapons” because definitions and connotations vary widely. Instead, I speak about magazine capacity, bump stocks, bullet types, etc. Do my husband and I agree on everything today? Nope. But we have more fruitful conversations and find more common ground when we get specific about the details. As a city councilor, before making policy decisions, I will ensure that I am well-informed and that the conversation gets specific to ensure we are at least discussing the same thing and not just talking past each other with misunderstandings.

How can the City Council support leadership and staff in maintaining a positive, productive, and transparent operational culture?

In my own supervision of staff, I like to ask employees how they best receive gratitude—do they feel appreciated through words of affirmation, through having good access to me and my time, etc.? City Council can foster appreciation for staff and city leaders through public recognition of tasks done well, through careful attention to the reports prepared by staff, etc. Council can encourage productivity by being clear about expectations and timelines, with inquiries into what the staff need in order to fulfill those expectations. Transparency can be cultivated through improving the navigation of the city website to highlight major ongoing projects and recent actions of the Council, with a more intuitive design, so residents can easily access the many resources staff have already prepared.

Getting to know Victoria Ernst, candidate for HD 24.

Interpersonal dynamics, including across party lines, contribute to the success of the legislature. How will you contribute to healthy interpersonal dynamics?

One thing I hear consistently when talking to District 24 residents is how tired they are of partisanship and division in Yamhill County. Almost everyone agrees that the extremes on either side don’t do any of us any good. I firmly believe that by working together, especially with people that have different perspectives, priorities, and experiences, we will come up with more informed, more sustainable, more effective, and ultimately better solutions to the challenges we are facing.

On a personal level, I have plenty of experience crossing party lines. My dad is a registered Republican. My mom is a registered Democrat. Growing up, I was taught to hear both sides of an issue, do my research, and come to an informed decision. I am open-minded and curious. I enjoy learning, and I find that I often learn the most from people that I disagree with. I can talk with, learn from, and work with just about anybody. I’ve been registered as a Republican, an Independent, and now as a Democrat. More than anything, I am a rural Oregonian. I grew up in Newberg and both sides of my family have been farming in the Willamette Valley for going on 6 generations. I have connections to the agriculture industry from my own time working in the hazelnut and nursery industries, as well as through my family. I want to bring these folks into the conversation.

On a professional level, I have experience negotiating legislation from my time with the European Union Parliament. I also have experience negotiating treaty articles with representatives from China and Russia. If I can get things done in that environment, I can do it in Salem too.

The best way we can move forward together is by building relationships. I will contribute to healthy interpersonal dynamics by showing respect, valuing participation, and encouraging those that have been left out of the conversation to take a seat at the table – whether they be farmers, historically marginalized populations, or young people. I want to be a voice for everyone in District 24. The best way I can do that is by bringing more people to the table. I will put in the effort it takes to build relationships across the aisle and across the District.

What are your principal motivations for running for this office?

I am running for this office because we need better representation for rural Oregon – rural Oregon people, communities, businesses, nonprofits, etc. are left out of the conversation in Salem because we keep electing candidates that aren’t even invited into the room where the decisions are made. All the attention goes to Portland, Salem, and Eugene because the decisions are made by Democrats from those major metropolitan areas. Our Republican representatives have not been effective at shaping legislation to fit the needs of rural Oregon. We need a voice at the table that is advocating for all of us in Yamhill and Polk Counties.

I know these struggles firsthand from my experience on the McMinnville Budget Committee, the Board of Encompass Yamhill Valley, the Finance Committee at YCAP, the Board of the Oregon Association of Nurseries Willamette Chapter, and as an employee at various small businesses around the district. Small cities, businesses in small towns, and rural nonprofits can’t compete for funding and grants with well-resourced competitors from bigger metro areas. In District 24, we often also don’t qualify for funding that is supposed to be available to rural communities because of the unique nature of the Willamette Valley. For instance, small towns like Amity have too many high earners from the wine industry that they no longer qualify for certain programs. But, the reality is, the small tax base they have can’t support the needed infrastructure projects on its own because the vast majority of residents can’t afford to pay higher taxes. In small communities, with smaller budgets and smaller staffs, a higher percentage of the funding received goes to pay consultants and attorneys to manage grants, instead of going out the door to help the businesses, communities, and people the funding is intended to benefit. We need legislators that understand these challenges and are ready to take action to fix them. Because of my background, I have this experience. I know I can make the system more efficient and ultimately more beneficial for everyone.

Every day I am advocating for people, businesses, and communities that are falling through the cracks, and I am frustrated with having to work in a system that doesn’t work for smaller communities. I am running because I am ready to use my experience to fight for solutions in Salem that will work for Yamhill County. We deserve better, and we can use our resources more wisely, so that more of the funding goes to the people, businesses, and communities that really need it.

What do you see as the most promising broad path forward for a more business friendly Oregon?

From talking with business leaders across the district, it is clear that rising costs, and specifically rising housing costs, are the biggest hurdle to attracting and retaining an adequate workforce. There are a lot of good jobs out here, and many businesses are doing everything they can to attract talent, but if there is nowhere for these workers to live, they cannot work here. The business community in the Chehalem Valley and Yamhill County is thriving. There is so much potential, so much ingenuity, but if we can’t attract a solid workforce, we won’t be able to realize these opportunities.

As a State Representative, I will work to address both the housing inventory shortage, especially regarding affordable housing and workforce housing, and the crisis in the rental market. If we don’t take action immediately, landlords can raise rent up to 15% next year. That will only exacerbate the shortage of affordable housing and make it even tougher for businesses to attract new talent and afford to keep their current staff. I will work to incentivize more public-private partnerships for workforce housing and also work to cap rent prices at a fair level. Attracting a solid workforce will allow us to take advantage of all the great ideas coming out of our business community.

Describe a time in which your thinking about an important public issue has changed because of your interaction with someone who disagreed with you.

When I was in high school, I was very “pro-life” I was young and also naive to the challenges many people face. I had friends that were pro-choice and they helped educate me on the reality of abortion access. I learned that no one is pro-abortion. I became frusterated that the “pro-life” movement only seemed concerned with that potential child’s life until it was born. Once the baby was born, most “pro-lifers” weren’t interested in ensuring that baby had housing, healthcare, food, education, or a stable and safe homelife. I learned that pro-life to many people just meant pro-birth. My experiences working in legal aid and representing people in court that lived below the poverty line also opened my eyes on this issue.

As a society we do not support parents and caregivers. All of us want there to be less abortions. But, cutting off access to abortion is not going to do that. The way we reduce the number of abortions is by teaching comprehensive sex education and by making contraception more widely available, so we have fewer unplanned pregnancies. We can also reduce the number of abortions by ensuring that there are societal supports in place for people that become pregnant and want to see that pregnancy through. We need to ensure access to affordable childcare, affordable housing, affordable healthcare, as well as paid time off from work for parents. We need to do everything we can to rein in skyrocketing prices. Most people that have abortions, already have children, and they are often making the decision to have an abortion so they can afford to take care of the children they have. Additionally, until we can prevent employment discrimination against people that become pregnant and parents in general, forcing people to continue pregnancies will cost them career advancement and increased earning opportunities. This impacts the broader economy by reducing productivity and limiting the available workforce. These impacts fall disportionately on women, and especially women of color, who already make far less than men working in the same roles. If we truly want economic justice and gender and racial equality, we have to preserve choice.

Which brings up another important distinction I have learned on this issue. I am a human rights lawyer, I believe in liberty and upholding people’s rights. I believe the word “liberty” in our Constitution protects us from the government intervening in our personal medical decisions. Pregnancy is a medical condition, and a very dangerous one – our maternal death rates in this country are terrifying and inexcusable. Many abortions are not elective, they are necessary for the health of the pregnant person. Government is not well-equipped to anticipate these technical medical issues. People in other states are dying because anti-abortion legislation is preventing them from accessing necesary healthcare. We cannot let that happen in Oregon. No legislator should be making medical decisions for their constituents. I now understand that abortion is healthcare. The choice of whether to continue a pregnancy should be up to the person who is pregnant and their doctor, not the government.

When your term ends, if it was deemed successful, what would you have accomplished?

I will define my term as a success when I am able to bring our community back together. I will do this by working across party lines and being a Representative for everyone in District 24. I will do this by bringing the necessary, and currently lacking, rural perspective to Salem. I will do this by fighting tirelessly for the people, businesses, and communities of District 24. There really is so much more we agree on than disagree on. There is so much good work happening in this District. We have an enormous opportunity with this new seat. We need to seize it and make sure Salem produces solutions that fit our needs in Yamhill and Polk Counties. If my term is successful, we will have solutions to the challenges we face – housing, houselessness, healthcare, education, etc. – that fit the needs of rural communities like ours.

Getting to know Peggy Kilburg, candidate for Newberg City Council, District 2.

What are your principal motivations for running for this office?

I’ve raised my family here (except for a few years in southern California), and I want to give back to this community. Now that I am retired, I have the time and energy to devote to serving on the city Council, and my 30+ years as an HR professional have equipped me for this role, especially my 21 years as the HR director at George Fox. Being successful in that position required strong leadership, decision making, and communication skills. I have been a city councilor now for just over 3 months, appointed on June 25th to fill a vacancy, and I find it both challenging and enjoyable.

Interpersonal dynamics contribute to the success of the city council. How will you contribute to healthy interpersonal dynamics?

I have strong interpersonal skills, but beyond that, I sincerely enjoy getting to know people as individuals. Sometimes that is in spite of differences in viewpoints. I am friendly and engaging, and I believe there is comradery among council members even now, despite having different perspectives on issues. I have spent extended time with one council member in particular, and I plan to do that with each and every person on the council (just as soon as this campaign is behind me).

And perhaps more importantly than any of this, I am committed to endorsing the excellent Civility Pledge recently put forth by the United as Neighbors group. It is a breath of much needed fresh air, and I’m grateful for the hard work of those who have been working on the civility project for the past many months.

The Newberg/Dundee Area Civility Pledge

I will be kind and respectful to everyone.

I will listen to understand the views and values of those with whom I disagree.

I will work to solve problems by seeking common ground.

I will refrain from mocking or ridiculing those who disagree with me.

I will seek to trust, and be trustworthy and truthful, in my interactions with others.

For me, key words in this pledge are “listen”, “seeking common ground”, “trust” “trustworthy”, and “truthful”.

When your term ends, if it was deemed successful, what would you have accomplished?

I answer this, knowing issues will arise that we don’t yet anticipate, but these are my thoughts based on our current realities:

• I will have worked to ensure that our community is a safe place for families, and part of that is supporting our police department and addressing homelessness.

• I will have been a watchdog regarding spending and reducing fees whenever possible.

• I will have worked to address our housing shortage and affordability.

• I will have worked to attract new businesses to Newberg that provide good paying jobs.

Describe a time in which your thinking about an important public issue has changed because of your interaction with someone who disagreed with you.

I used to think of marijuana solely as a recreational drug. In fact, I had a brother whose habitual use of it contributed to his alcohol addiction and ultimately, his premature death. I basically thought of marijuana as “pot” that should be illegal. Then, through conversations with one of my sons and also with one of my daughters, I’ve come around to see that there are medical benefits. In my son’s case, he has two young daughters who have battled cancer, one as a toddler, and one who is currently in a 2 1/2-year treatment plan that won’t end until early in 2024. In talking with my son, I’ve come to understand that marijuana is can be effective in controlling pain, and it can also help with appetite and nausea issues. My daughter has convinced me that it can also be used to treat stress, anxiety and sleep issues.

How can the City Council support leadership and staff in maintaining a positive, productive, and transparent operational culture?

I love this question because these are so important! They can be accomplished by keeping communication channels open, especially with the City Manager, who reports to the Council. But it is also important that we have at least a basic understanding staff’s jobs and the primary functions in each department. I would add to that the importance of expressing appreciation for their work. An example would be the Finance Director’s work and leadership during the annual budgeting process.

Sometimes people are impatient with local government because they want a certain outcome. And sometimes it’s just not possible to make that change quickly. Talking with the city department heads has helped me better understand the reasons. An example is the municipal (aka water) bill, which includes fees for public safety and transportation line items.