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Letters to the Editor

The Observer welcomes letters to the editor. Letters are limited to 350 words and must be signed and carry the author’s address and phone number (for verification purposes only).

We edit letters for brevity, grammar, taste and legal reasons. We do not fact check. We will not publish poetry, consumer complaints against businesses or personal attacks against private individuals. Thank-you letters are discouraged.

Letter writers are limited to one letter every two weeks.

Email your letters to news@lagrandeobserver.com or mail them to La Grande Observer,
1406 5th St., La Grande, Ore., 97850.

Letters deadline

The Observer does not run endorsements of more than 350 words.

The Observer will institute a deadline for letters to the editor, so we can be fair with all the letters we receive and allow for responses before Election Day if necessary.

We run the letters on a first come, first served basis.

Please submit your endorsement letters to the editor by noon Friday, Oct. 26. You can email them to news@lagrandeobserver.com, drop them off at our La Grande location, or mail them to The Observer, 1406 Fifth St., La Grande, 97850.

We will publish our last letters on Friday, Nov. 2. Election Day is Nov. 6.

Rencken: Much of Walden’s good work has gone unnoticed

To the Editor:

I want to thank Representative Walden for the work he has done for the people of Oregon. It seems much of the good work he has accomplished has gone unnoticed.

I spent a good portion of my Forest Service career working as a wildland firefighter. I have seen the benefits of proper forest management and know from firsthand experience how important it is to have the tools and ability to manage our forests before fires even begin. Additionally, when fires do start, it is so important to have the resources to properly and efficiently suppress them.

Greg Walden has been leading the fight when it comes to giving wildfire suppression forces the resources they need as well as working to give communities the tools they need to reduce impacts from and prevent wildfire. A major win from Representative Walden was fixing the way wildfire suppression is paid for — so the money allotted for fire prevention efforts is used for that purpose.

Recently, Representative Walden secured aid funding for farmers and ranchers impacted by the Substation Fire, showing once again that he is aware of the needs of his district and is working hard to represent the people of Eastern Oregon.

Greg Walden’s efforts have also been instrumental in other key pieces of legislation that will help rural Oregon. Consider these headlines: “House passes Walden bill to protect Crooked River Ranch: Crooked River Ranch Fire Protection Act aims to reduce risk of wildfire for local community” and “Greg Walden secures key priorities for Oregon: Supports House passage of government funding measure” — which includes forest management reform, Klamath Basin drought relief, combating the opioid crisis, funding critical mental health programs, Ray Baum’s Act (ensuring that rural communities get broadband) and Brownfield’s Re-Authorization
(development of old industrial sites).

Nancy Rencken


Larvik: Wes Williams is a crusader for criminal defendants

To the Editor:

I have practiced law in this community with Wes Williams for almost 20 years. The voters should know what they will be getting if he is elected judge.

Wes Williams is a crusader for criminal defendants. He is known for his
extreme positions supporting criminal defendants, which has eroded his credibility. He very strongly identifies with the accused and has shown little empathy for victims of crimes. His support is generally from the most liberal element of our community, especially those in the legal community who view his election as favorable to their criminal clients.

Mr. Williams has applied to be appointed judge each of the last three vacancies and was passed over by two different liberal-progressive governors, despite his own extremely liberal personal views. Each time, the governor’s search committee did an extensive investigation into each applicant’s personal reputation, character and abilities, and determined another applicant was better qualified.

Why does this matter to your average voter? If Wes Williams is elected judge, the fair administration of justice will suffer.

Mona Williams is a straightforward, dedicated public servant. She has served as the judge of our circuit and has done an admirable job. She has proven she is capable of the fair, even and balanced application of law to each individual case. Her personal integrity and reputation for fairness are unquestioned. She is by far the better choice for our circuit court judge. I strongly endorse her.

Cory Larvik

La Grande

Kreider: Walden’s actions speak louder than words

To the Editor:

Is Greg Walden’s nose growing? It should be! In the Oct. 5 debate on KTVZ with Jamie McLeod-Skinner he blatantly lied about his attempts to remove health insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

McLeod-Skinner spelled out his record on this. Greg Walden was the principal architect of Trumpcare, the bill that would have removed protections to pre-existing conditions and would have resulted in a loss of (or significantly more expensive) coverage for one in four Oregonians.

Trying to defend himself, Walden babbled that “the charges that have been leveled have been reviewed by The Washington Post, politicians have used them, they are Pinocchios, because pre-existing conditions continue to be protected under what we do.” Why, yes, Greg, because your efforts to eliminate those protections have, fortunately, failed (so far).

Does Mr. Walden really think his constituents don’t remember that he has tried on many occasions to eliminate those protections? Does he think that just because he has failed in his attempts (so far), that we’ll give him a pass?

Does Mr. Walden really think we don’t remember he spearheaded the attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act? One-third of his constituents are on the Oregon Health Plan and many more receive coverage through the Exchange. He talks about protecting us but his actions do the opposite — crafting legislation and voting in line with the wealthy 1 percent and huge pharmaceutical PACs. He is lying to us in the 2nd Congressional District — it is time to put Pinocchio to rest.

Fuji Kreider

La Grande

Baum: Mona Williams is trustworthy, experienced and incorruptible

To the Editor:

I confidently recommend Mona Williams be retained in the position of Circuit Court Judge for Union and Wallowa Counties. In the 30 years I have known Mona, I have found her to be totally trustworthy, experienced and incorruptible. Mona’s experiences from private practice and supervising a branch office of my firm to her experience as District Attorney for Wallowa County have given her the background to deal with all areas of the law.

Mona established a drug treatment court to hold those in the criminal justice system “accountable and treated.” She was one of the first DAs in the state to offer treatment to alcoholics and drug users by holding them accountable and helping them stop their drug dependence. She thereby helped to return many individuals to society and relieved the burden on the police and jails.

After an extensive search process, Mona was selected as the best qualified candidate to replace retiring Judge Russell West. She serves in that position now. We need a judge with a great work ethic and sense of fairness.

I urge you to vote for the Williams currently in the position as Union County Circuit Court Judge — Mona Williams.

David C. Baum

Attorney at Law

La Grande

Ousley: Wes Williams has the characteristics to make a first-rate judge

To the Editor:

I am supporting and voting for Wes Williams for Circuit Judge for Union and Wallowa counties.

I met Wes 20 years ago on a trip to La Grande for a court matter involving Wallowa County. For years I saw him as a civil practice attorney and as a criminal defense attorney in Wallowa County and as a colleague whenever we met. At all times, he was well informed on the applicable law in each case and thoroughly prepared to present that case for his client, whether a civil law or criminal law matter. In addition, he was always considerate and respectful to the Court, opposing counsel and all witnesses from both sides of the case.

Experience in many areas of the law is essential for a judge in our counties. The judge must be prepared to deal on a daily basis with cases in civil law, from domestic relations and business transactions to personal injury and real property cases, and in criminal law from barking dogs to murder. The judge does not have the privilege of specializing as is common in bigger cities. Wes has practiced in all these areas for 22 years and is prepared to handle any of the legal issues that may arise in court.

It takes all of these characteristics to make a first-rate judge, and Wes Williams has always exhibited them in his years of practice of the law. That is why I am supporting him and voting for him for circuit court judge for our two counties and why I urge all voters to vote for Wes by Nov. 6.

Daniel Ousley

Former Wallowa County

District Attorney


Stever: Wes Williams will ‘stick up for the little guy’

To the Editor:

I knew of Wes Williams years ago when he defended a family friend who was falsely accused of a crime who, thanks to Wes’ efforts in bringing the truth to light, was subsequently acquitted of all charges. However, it was not until about a year and a half ago that I was given the opportunity to work at Wes Williams’ law office in the position of legal assistant.

The reason I will be voting and encouraging others to vote for Wes for circuit court judge can be explained with an anecdote. During my hiring interview, Wes explained his practice by saying, “We stick up for the little guy.” Since then, I have witnessed this firsthand. In the span of a year, I had the opportunity to work with Wes in taking on national cellphone companies, banks and insurance companies all in defense of farmers, loggers, small business owners and so many more from Eastern Oregon. Wes has represented women who have needed restraining orders, people who were victims of a crime the district attorney’s office would not prosecute, people fighting the federal government for their property and juveniles faced with adult charges.

The one thing Wes does not have extensive experience in is working for the government. He explained this to me by saying in his short time working at the Department of Justice he found that attorneys who represent the government have all the resources and manpower whereas our clients, the “little guys,” just have their rights. He explained that this motivated him to build his practice more than 20 years ago with the focus on “sticking up for the little guy.”

I will proudly be voting Wes Williams for judge in Union and Wallowa counties because I know Wes has the widest variety of legal experience, because I know Wes has the self-discipline to apply the law accurately and impartially, and above all because I know Wes will protect our constitutional rights.

Anna Stever

La Grande

Vigil: The party of Lincoln, freedom and justice is no more

To the Editor:

When did the Republican Party lose its way? Once the party of Lincoln, freedom, justice and fiscal conservatism, the party has now morphed into the party of Trump. This means the party represents pathological lying, tearing families apart and the worst kind of racism, sexism and anti-science ignorance imaginable. Congressional Republicans and candidates up and down the ticket represent the values of Trump.

As congressional Republicans promoted for the Supreme Court a man demonstrated to have lied under oath and accused of grossly inappropriate sexual behavior, we find Republicans everywhere running as Trumpists and standing in support of lying and sexual misbehavior.

In Oregon, our values are not consistent with the values of Trump, his gang and their Washington apologists. Yet no local Republican has yet voiced criticism of Trump. We have heard nothing from Walden, Gomez, Wallan, Abercrombie or Froelich to suggest they are anything but adoring Trumpists.

Trisha Vigil


Pascale: McLeod-Skinner is best bet to get Walden out of Washington

To the Editor:

I am writing to express my support for Jamie McLeod-Skinner, the Democratic candidate for Oregon’s Second Congressional District. She has repeatedly demonstrated a strong willingness to maintain open communication with her constituents, in sharp contrast to Greg Walden, whose infrequent number of town halls has been noted by his hometown of Hood River.

Walden seems to prefer to never visit any county more frequently than once a year. In addition, he has limited his debates with Jamie, and in the debate hosted by Bend station KTVZ with her on Oct. 5, the public wasn’t allowed to make live comments.

Walden has also had a leading role in efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he was instrumental in pushing a section of the Republicans’ replacement health care bill called the Patient and State Stability Fund, which purported to cut down on the amount of people covered by the ACA to “the neediest.” This would have done little but raise costs across the board for all taxpayers.

In contrast, Jamie does not want to remove insurance for thousands of Oregonians, but instead wants to work on improving the current system in a manner that ensures accessible, affordable health care for everyone, eliminating any coverage gaps that exist under our current health care system.

Jamie would also be a strong representative for the district due to her stance on environmental issues. While believing in environmental preservation, she wants to foster a collaborative method of approach that will sustain local economies, such as fostering a stronger green economy, for instance.

Those are just some of the reasons why I believe Jamie McLeod-Skinner would be an ideal representative for our district. If you want Greg Walden to leave Washington, she is the best candidate.

John Pascale


Koppelman: Be like Jamie — show up and vote

To the Editor:

Someone famous once said “showing up is 80 percent of life.” If that’s true, then Jamie McLeod-Skinner is a winner in my book. Jamie is showing up everywhere these days in Oregon District 2 — actually, she’s been showing up for more than a year visiting and meeting people in all of the district’s counties. But where’s Walden?

Jamie’s message is clear: people over party; support Oregon’s values of creating jobs and a livable wage; access to affordable health care for all; support veterans; stewardship of our natural resources; education without debt; create and enforce just laws; build strong communities; and protect our “Dreamers.”

And now WE must all show up in November and cast our vote for change. Let’s be that 80 percent (or more) that show up and VOTE for all of us: the people who work, teach, study, serve, retire, create and enjoy all that Oregon’s Second Congressional District has to offer.

Lillian Koppelman


Epstein: Trashing Trump is counter-productive

To the Editor:

I seem to find myself in the minority in today’s national Democratic Party.

I disagree with the tendency of most Democrats (including political candidates for Congress and those in the news media) to constantly bash Donald Trump over his obnoxious personality and his divisive comments.

As very conservative “Morning Joe” Scarborough has said on his MSNBC show, when Democrats talk negatively about Trump, it just makes his supporters
angrier and more protective of him, while corroborating their paranoid belief that Democrats and the liberal part of the media are out to get Trump. Rather, as Joe suggests, Democrats need to focus on communicating their values and telling the people how the federal government can be a force for good and can make life better for all Americans.

They don’t seem to realize most Americans agree that we need to protect the safety-net programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, college student loans and unemployment insurance benefits. Those are winning issues we should constantly be talking about, not trashing Trump.

Stewart B. Epstein

Rochester, NY

Journet: Republican caucuses have politicized science

To the Editor:

Whether it’s dwindling snowpack impacting water supplies, increasing temperatures or the increasing wildfire risk, we can see what global warming and its climate consequences cause before our eyes. We’d have to be blind to miss it. We also know the concentration of climate pollution building up in our atmosphere as a result of human activities is driving global warming.

If we wish to solve these problems, we will need to reduce emissions of this pollution. While Oregon only contributes a small amount to the global emissions budget, we cannot urge other states and nations with greater impact to curtail their emissions if we do not make a serious effort ourselves.

This means we should support legislation to reduce these emissions (voluntary efforts imposed in 2007 have failed) and support only candidates who likewise support aggressive action.

Regrettably, the federal and state Republican caucuses have politicized science and oppose action.

Alan Journet