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The La Grande Observer 12/15/14

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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Portland Republican stops in La Grande on small business tour

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Portland Republican stops in La Grande on small business tour

U.S. Senate hopeful Monica Wehby talks with residents about their economic concerns Friday afternoon. Wehby stopped in La Grande on a small business tour of Oregon. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
U.S. Senate hopeful Monica Wehby talks with residents about their economic concerns Friday afternoon. Wehby stopped in La Grande on a small business tour of Oregon. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
U.S. Senate candidate Monica Wehby stopped in La Grande Friday afternoon while on a small business tour around Oregon.

Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon from the Portland area, said she is traveling the state to hear concerns from small business owners.

Wehby is one of several Republicans who will compete in the May primary with hopes to unseat Democrat Jeff Merkley in the general election. State Rep. Jason Conger of Bend and Sam Carpenter, a Bend businessman, have also joined the Republican race.

About a dozen people gathered at Joe Beans Friday, where Wehby voiced concern over economic uncertainty as the state tries to pull itself out of the Great Recession, as well as concerns with the Affordable Care Act.

“We obviously have a lot of concerns about the health care law,” Wehby said. “People are having to shrink back their businesses as a result of the law.”

Another concern raised is problems with the work force, Wehby said.

“We need a lot of vocational training for people,” she said.

La Grande City Councilor John Lackey asked Wehby how she thinks the state can get trade skills back into Oregon high schools. Wehby pointed to Benson Polytechnic High School, where she said the enrollment has been capped. She said more programs like theirs, which focuses on technical skills, need to be implemented. Those types of skills, Wehby said, would enable students to find good paying jobs out of high school if college isn’t for them.

Commenting on economic uncertainty, La Grande Mayor Daniel Pokorney said the area is seeing a rebound.

“The trouble is we’ve been down so long, it’s going to take a while to come back,” he said. “The uncertainty is real. We don’t know if the (rebound) is real. We don’t know if it’s solid.”

Others at the informal meeting said they have concerns about federal regulatory policy. A rancher and grower said having the freedom to grow the way they want would allow them to be sustainable forever. Others commented that federal energy policy should be addressed. Wehby said she would like to see an energy independent America.

“When you’re dependent on someone else, it takes away your freedom,” she said.

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter @lgoDucote.

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