State rep candidates face off in forum

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- With State Representative Tim Freeman set to leave House District 2, two democratic and two republican candidates from Douglas County faced off with each other in Roseburg.

The four were featured at the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Monday, to show why they're the best person for the job.

For Dallas Heard, Mark Garcia, Natasha Dunne-Bjorsen and Kerry Atherton, it was all about helping the local economy.

Dallas Heard, a Roseburg republican, says he wants to be a voice for all Oregonians. "I think the people of Oregon need an advocate to go to Salem to advocate on their behalf, I'm saying, 'Look, it's not the job of the state to tell you what to do,'" he said. "It's to help you get to where you want to go, so we can have a strong community and strong jobs."

Democrat Natasha Dunne-Bjorsen of Myrtle Creek, says education is key to growing the economy. "The economy is founded by our education, and if we have better schools, then we have better workforce," she said. "If we have a better workforce then we'll have industries that will build here. So, my main focus is actually our education, then our economy."

Mark Garcia is also from Myrtle Creek, and the republican says he helped to promote bills that would increase logging. "I played an important part in getting the O&C Timber Bill support throughout Oregon, and I believe I can get the state legislature to come around and change its course from working on policies to working on economic issues," he said.

Kerry Atherton, another Myrtle Creek democrat, says it is time to take action. "We can't wait for a white knight to ride in and save us," he said. "We need to do something ourselves. So, I'm calling on my pioneer spirit and the rest of Douglas County to roll up their sleeves and pitch in and do this ourselves."

Ballots for the May primary will be sent out on May 2. They are due back on May 20.