Grant Darrow, of Elgin, has been a self-employed chimney sweep for 38 years.

I no longer visit Portland. Nor do I conduct any type of business within the Portland Metropolitan area, personal or professional. Fact is, most of my vendors have fled the area. I now go out of state to do business, and I am not alone.

I’m a rural Oregonian and it has become clear to me that not only Ted Wheeler but Kate Brown have declared war on rural Oregonians. They seemingly despise our values, lifestyles and the very resource base we survive on. Our homelands have become nothing more than a playground. Our lives open for experiments in social engineering. Why would I spend money some place where it is used to support an ideology that considers me a second or even third class citizen? Third class? Yes. Kate’s current minimum wage laws clearly define third class citizens as living in rural Oregon. It’s bad enough that the money I work so hard for is taxed and then is squandered on waste with no redeeming value added to my life or business. I am not an evil force.

I have fond memories of driving to Portland as early as 1958, before interstate highways, when you stopped in rural towns for stoplights and lunch all along the way. I remember the opening of the Lloyd Center and having a picnic in the park across from it. Our family would stay for several days. Shop, attend special events and enjoy a family-friendly big city. How many Portland residents now picnic in that park?

In the 1990s I would bring my own family to Portland. We would park in La Grande and take the Pioneer Amtrak train into Union Station. We would enjoy the ruralness of Eastern Oregon and the sudden transition into western Oregon at The Dalles. We enjoyed the courtesy ride to a downtown hotel and free Max downtown as we shopped for ourselves and others. I felt perfectly comfortable allowing my teenage daughters venture forth on their own. We enjoyed plays, concerts, exhibits, Saturday Market, Powell’s Books and “fancy” restaurants. Not anymore. Portland is filthy, nasty and increasingly dangerous.

Last May I attended a five-day National Chimney Sweep Guild / Oregon Chimney Sweeps Association joint conference near the Lloyd Center. My first overnight stay in Portland in 15 years. What a mistake. I didn’t travel downtown to entertain. I traveled east, away from the city center. At one point I overheard a couple from the Carolinas comment on what a friendly place Portland was, one could camp anywhere. I spent a lot of time trying to explain to visitors that Portland no longer represents Oregon — geographically, culturally or politically.

The politicians of the Portland Metropolitan area clearly cater to the forces of evil and hate with open arms, which only further stratifies our society, making life more unlivable on either end. Many Portland residents are understandably upset. How does this make Portland and consequently Oregon better? Time for a big change.

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