First Congregational Church in Corvallis was the venue for tonights Forum with Fourth District Congressional candidates, Peter Defazio (D) Art Robinson (R) and Mike Beilstein (Green Party).
More than 300 people were present in a standing room only crowd in the Church Gymnasium. The Corvallis Gazette Times sponsored this Candidate Forum. Teresa Novak from the Gazette Times was Moderator.
Each candidate had a strong contingent of supporters that had metallic signs on their vehicles, wearing buttons and holding placards demonstrating unabashed support for their candidate.
The candidates were given a two minute time frame for opening remarks. Questions were submitted by audience members on index cards. The questions began with how each candidate would deal with additional bike lanes and graduated to the candidates positions on NAFTA, Abortion, Raising Taxes, Reducing Spending, Immigration, Trade with China, Iraq & Afghanistan & Health Care.
The most interesting question may have been whether Congress was too contentious? Mike Beilstein responded that Congress ought to be contentious. "Too many people agreeing" did not make for arriving at the best solutions to problems, so stated Beilstein.
The Forum became "Contentious" with Defazio and Robinson exchanging verbal fusillades at various times during their responses to questions. Peter Defazio stated that Art Robinson wanted to do away with the Department of Education. DeFazio quoted statements that Robinson had supposedly made on prior occasions. Art Robinson countered with the fact that Defazio should retire to the vacation home he had purchased in New Zealand!
Peter DeFazio made it clear that he would challenge his Party & his President when necessary. DeFazio repeatedly stated how he had voted against the Stimulus Plan. He also made it a point that he was "Independent" in his thinking and how he was working for the people of the Fourth Congressional District in Oregon.
Immigration was an isssue that had Art Robinson wanting to return any undocumented/illegal Immigrant to their country of origin. Defazio and Beilstein were supporters of a comprehensive Immigration Plan that would provide some mechanism for Illegal Immigrants to pursue a path to citizenship. Peter Defazio made it clear that our Nation could not and would not be able to deal with the approximately 12 million illegal/undocumented immigrants spread around 50 States.
Peter DeFazio was clear that he was against any "off shore drilling" off the coast of Oregon, Washington & California. Mike Beilstein repeatedly made the point that alternatives to Oil were necessary. Art Robinson wanted free enterprise in all phases of oil production from discovery to drilling.
Art Robinson made his point that Washington was full of "Career Politicans" without much intelligence. Robinson Made the point that "Big Government" was intrusive in our lives and was responsible for our nations poor standing in Higher Education.
In responding to the Abortion question Peter DeFazio supported a womans right to make her own decision with the support of her husband/partner and doctor. Mike Beilstein also supported a womans right to choose. Art Robinson was Pro Life and was emphatic that partial birth abortion was akin to "murder".
Voters have a clear choice in November. The question remains which candidate was most persuasive in communicating his positions on the issues that mean the most to the voters.
If tonight is any indication of what will take place over the next 42 days, Fourth District voters in Oregon will stay quite busy reading and listening to these three candidates.