▶️ State Representatives candidates square off at forum in Bend


Candidates for state representative were at Open Space Studio in Bend Wednesday night for a forum.

“Tonight when I came, I have not heard the candidates speak altogether,” said forum attendee Keith Rockrow. “That was a big accomplishment tonight. They all articulated their opinions and their future and outlook for District 53 and 54.”

Running for House District 53 is Emerson Levy and Michal Sipe, answering questions from supporting job creation to relieving traffic congestion.

“Multi-model transportation is that pathway to the future,” said Levy. “It supports all users, walk, bike, uses transit or drive. As a community, we are so focused on the outdoors, and it increases the value of our community and also relieves congestion.”

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Questions about climate change and outdated water rights were also asked.

“We need to pipe the canals,” said Sipe. “We need to get the canals piped because there is so much seepage and so much evaporation. I know this is controversial, but that is what we need to do because we have to get the water from where it is to where it needs to go.”

Running for House District 54 are Judy Trego and incumbent Jason Kropf, answering questions on topics such as broadband infrastructure to lack of childcare on the High Desert.

“We need to make child care affordable and accessible,” said Trego. “This will require addressing the unmet need of affordability for families and fair compensation for the childcare workforce.”

Topics of housing and homelessness also came up.

“We are going to come together, we are going to solve this problem, we are going to tackle this problem,” said Kropf. “I am confident that when we put our efforts behind it that we can make sure that everyone has a safe place and that we can move people from crisis to shelter to stable housing.”

For around two hours, 14 questions were asked and answered, giving voters a better idea of who they want to vote for.

“I wanted to see how they presented themselves in front of us, the voters and I pretty much made up my mind as to who I want to support for the future for 53 and 54,” said Rockow.

There were complaints about disruptions from the audience during the forum. The Bend Chamber responded to that in a tweet on Thursday.

“Bend Chamber events have historically been welcoming and business-centric. We tried something different this year to make it accessible to all, resulting in a different mix of attendees that did not represent the Central Oregon business community. The behavior of some of the attendees in last night’s state house seat forum was not what we expect or condone from our events. It is critical for our Chamber to work with all parties and believe that differing points of view and political affiliations are part of our political system that deserves respect.”


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