If you are registered to vote in Oregon you should have received a voter’s pamphlet and an election ballot by now. Before you jump into it let’s break down the race for the Oregon House Representative for District 11 between Phil Barnhart and Joe Potwora.

The Oregon State House of Representatives has the power to create state laws that ultimately impact Oregonians more so than federal laws. At a time when Oregon schools are in desperate need of funding, it is critical that Phil Barnhart wins this race.

Joe Potwora has strong connections to large financial institutions, while Phil Barnhart is a career politician that likely feels safe in his position and has less accountability to his voters. Potwora’s policies mostly consist of cutting taxes, which is where Barnhart firmly beats him.

Joe Potwora is currently a branch manager at Guild Mortgage Company. Before that he was the senior vice president at Willamette Valley Bank, branch manager at Washington Mutual and vice president of a local Bank of America branch.

Potwora’s occupational background is a huge red flag. Potwora is guaranteed to have connections with many high-ranking members of prominent financial institutions. It’s extremely naive to think that when push comes to shove Potwora would side with the Oregon people rather than his wealthy banker friends.

On Potwora’s website one of the first things he states is “Oregon should be encouraging small businesses to grow good-paying jobs by cutting taxes and limiting regulation.”

Oregon already ranks dead last in the nation on business taxes, so if his policy works Oregon would already have more than enough high paying jobs, which isn’t true considering that Oregon’s unemployment rate has been steadily increasing over the past six months according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The next issue Potwora addresses is education. Potwora recognizes the problem — Oregon’s embarrassing high school dropout rate — which ranks third highest in the country according to the U.S. Department of Education. Yet, he doesn’t seem to think that there should be any additional funding. Instead he thinks what funding there is should be spent more wisely on things like early childhood education and vocational training.

While I agree wholeheartedly that those things are important, I understand that the funding is already stretched insanely thin. The real solution is taxing large corporations, like the one at which Potwora works, in order to get Oregon schools the funding they need. Again, it would be very naive to think he would be in favor of taxing the companies to which he has such close ties.

Barnhart is not without his flaws. He has been a State Representative for 15 years which is far too long, in my opinion, because it is good to have fresh faces with ideas rather than career politicians with a solid web of donors. Incumbents like Barnhart have an extremely high chance of winning elections (for the U.S. House of Representatives the re-election rate is 80-90 percent depending on the year) since voters and donors already know them, which can lead to them being less accountable to their voters.

Barnhart also just seems to vote along Democratic Party lines, which could be a sign that he doesn’t have very strong personal convictions.

That being said, Barnhart is a strong proponent of Ballot Measure 97, which taxes corporations in order to fund education and healthcare. This is a sign that he is not in the pocket of large financial institutions, like Potwora almost certainly is.

Do your own research as well, but I strongly recommend voting for Phil Barnhart instead of Joe Potwora in the 2016 election if you live in Oregon District 11.

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