Smith’s experience shouldn’t be ignored

By Observer editorial April 30, 2010 02:31 pm
Veteran state Rep. Greg Smith is encountering something this political season that he hasn’t seen before — an opponent in the primary and the wrath of his political party. The latter actually begot the former because of some votes Smith cast in the 2009 legislative session. Never mind that the experienced legislator from Heppner has been a tireless supporter of his party’s political fundamentals, nor that he voted the way he did in the last session for the sake of his district. He crossed the line, and in the eyes of the Oregon GOP chairman, needs to be ousted as a state representative. Smith’s district just might have something to say abut that, and we hope that they do. Smith is a solid Republican with conservative credentials who cares about his district. He deserves the party’s nomination in his re-election bid. District 57 relies on his expertise and experience in the Legislature.

Smith is the ranking member on the House Budget Committee. Too, he serves on the state’s Emergency Board, which convenes quarterly when the Legislature is not in session, and when emergencies arise, to address pressing state issues. He has served five terms. Anyone who has seen the wheels of governance at work in the Legislature knows that making an impact for a particular district requires know-how and experience. Starting over at square one, especially when Republicans are likely to remain in the minority in the Legislature, doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Smith has been unfairly castigated by GOP Chairman Bob Tiernan and by his primary opponent, former Union County Commissioner Colleen MacLeod. MacLeod offers no solutions to the problems the state has faced or will face. Anyone can stand up and say “No new taxes or fees,’’ and a lot of people are saying just that these days. But coming up with solutions to the state’s budget problems will take a lot more than simply saying we’ll look at the problems and find ways to “spend our money better.’’

Smith has a 95 percent rating from Associated Oregon Industries. He received excellent marks from the Farm Bureau, the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, the Wheat League. He’s endorsed by groups ranging from the NRA and Right to Life to Associated Oregon Loggers. He’s a Republican through and through. And no matter how Tiernan or MacLeod try to paint him, Smith’s conservative philosophies come through loud and clear. But he cast some votes that drew the ire of his party but that he saw as critical to the future of his district. He helped Eastern Oregon University, critical access hospitals like Grande Ronde, the OSU Range Sciences program, the Extension Service, the Oregon Youth Authority, the National Guard and our region’s loggers. Smith also went to bat for programs like FFA and FBLA and others supported by the Student Leadership Development Center. And the transportation act he supported and has been criticized for was in fact written and endorsed by none other than Associated Oregon Industries with the support of groups such as the Oregon Wheat League, Oregon Farm Bureau and others. The bill had bipartisan support.

Voters in District 57 should not be fooled by the rhetoric that’s coming out of this primary campaign. Greg Smith is a solid Republican, a good representative and he deserves his party’s bid for another term.