Wednesday, April 26, 2006

2nd District Interviews: Scott Silver

[in an effort to provide useful information on the four Democratic candidates running to unseat Rep. Greg Walden (R) in Oregon's 2nd District, Loaded Orygun compiled a brief, five-item questionnaire and sent it to Chuck Butcher, Dan Davis, Scott Silver and Carol Voisin. As we receive responses we will publish them...]

1) Tell us something about yourself and your background, and explain what
prompted you to run for Congress.
I am 54 years old and serve as the Executive Director of "Wild Wilderness" a non-profit organization I co-founded in 1991. I am married, have one child and am a very concerned citizen. I have long been active in public affairs and have a national reputation associated with my work on National Parks and forests. In addition to my advocacy work, I am a biochemist with many years experience in industry where I've held such titles as “Manager of Contract Research”, “Research Group Leader” , “Head of Technical Service” and "Staff Scientist."

In the summer of 1997, I caught hold of an issue that had been traveling undetected below the nation’s radar. Within a year, I was speaking at colleges and conferences all across the country and Wild Wilderness was transformed into a high profile advocacy organization with an international following. That issue was the “Recreation Fee Demonstration Program,” something most Oregonians first knew as the “Trail Park Pass” and now associate with the “Northwest Forest Pass.”

Wild Wilderness showed the entire nation how the outdoor recreation industry had wheedled Congress to implement their fee program in order that the outdoor recreation activities we had all freely enjoyed, could be more tightly controlled, neatly packaged, creatively marketed and then sold to paying customers. We explained how through the incentives created by user fees, our National Parks and public lands would become increasingly commercialized, and eventually privatized.

In the Fall of 2005, someone in an audience who had just heard me speak on this subject approached me and asked if I’d ever considered running for public office. After just a moment’s hesitation, I replied “Yes, I have.”

I'm running for Congress because our current Representative, Greg Walden, isn't looking after our best interests. I am running to protect the Constitution, to reclaim our democracy, to provide for a better future for all Americans and to give the people of Oregon the representation they deserve.

There are issues of enormous importance to every one of us that are not being dealt with appropriately; issues such as healthcare, the deficit, the War in Iraq and the defense of our rights. Mr. Walden has not been good on those issues. He's been a rubber stamp for this administration and his failure to take meaningful stands on important issues is perhaps the main reason why I am running for the Congressional seat he currently occupies. If change is to happen it will require changing who we put in office. I'm running because I can do a better job than Mr. Walden.

2) Because the general meme in your district is that Walden has served his
constituency well, and assuming you believe that to be false, please
indicate why that is so. Specifically, what are three areas in which Rep.
Walden's involvement or lack of involvement at the Congressional level has
hurt residents of the 2nd District? Follow up on each example by noting how
your approach would have been different.
As I've already said, Walden has not been doing a good job of representing the interests of the people in this district. He has supported and voted for legislation that is downright detrimental to the people of Eastern, Central and Southwestern Oregon. He offers the people of his district the occasional bone which he throws with a flourish and a country smile. Yet when he, himself, votes on the house floor, he is usually representing special interests that have little in common with the needs of the people of this district.

The focus of my own campaign has been "personal security." I view the Bush administration and those in Congress who support his agenda, as deliberately creating a fearful, insecure and easily led public. By fostering insecurity, the public will be less to willing challenge the many abuses of power now occurring.

If elected, I would work toward restoring and enhancing those things that make us more secure in our own lives. When I speak of “personal security," I'm speaking about our jobs, our healthcare, our children's education, our retirement benefits and more. And when I speak of the Bush Administration, I am perfectly willing to tar Greg Walden with that same brush. Walden's voting record provides all the proof that is necessary.

3) As you know, Democrats have had a difficult time recently in convincing
2nd District voters that the party can better serve their needs and desires.
Please discuss specific areas where policy or perceived policy makes it
difficult for Democrats to succeed with your constituents, and how your
candidacy represents either a change in policy or an effort to change policy
It is commonly said that "all politics is local." That said, I've chosen to nationalize my campaign and focus on much more than local issues. Today's voters are interested in bigger issues that they perceive as directly impacting their own lives. In each of the many candidate forums that have been held around the state, the overwhelming majority of questions I've been asked have been about the War in Iraq, the growing deficit, healthcare, immigration policy, and other nationally important issues.

Six years into the Bush Presidency, Democrats and Republicans alike have had it with those politicians who are leading us down the wrong path and pursuing agendas that threaten our collective and individual futures. The 2nd District, and indeed all of America, is divided not so much between Republicans and Democrats, but between those whose interests are being well-served and those who are being ill-served. The interests of far too few of my fellow Oregonians are being well-served and thus the outcome of the November election will not be determined by the usual local issues. Voters will be demanding a return of those things and values which were lost during Walden's incumbency.

I'd like voters to reflect upon the following three questions. Are you getting good value for the tax dollars you now pay? Do you feel secure in your own life and confident that the future will be bright for you and your children? Are you fully satisfied with things as they are? If you can answer each of these with an unqualified 'YES', then I needn't be running for Congress. Based upon the many conversations I've had as I've traveled the District, I know that there are a great many people who can not answer 'yes' to each of those questions and who are ready for a change. My candidacy offers a positive change.

4) For better or for worse, Rep. Walden's experience and relative seniority
in Congress offers political leverage and influence for 2nd District voters.
What can you offer to replace that experience, creating a net benefit for
Southern and Eastern Oregon?
It is silly to preface that question with the words "for better or worse." Walden's seniority and leverage have been for the worse. His seniority and leverage have done tangible harm to the people of this district. Removing him from office and replacing him with someone who truly has the interests of this district at heart, would be a positive change. And as that person proves himself or herself and is re-elected, then over time the benefits to this district will grow and grow.

Continuing down the wrong path will not get anyone closer to the desired destination.

As I answered before, if people believe that America is currently headed in the right direction, then there's no need to make a course correction. If, however, people believe that America is headed in the wrong direction, then it is necessary to make a change.

5) Campaigning together at several stops was a good way to keep the focus on
Rep. Walden, and prevent the primary race from degenerating into Democrats
tearing down other Democrats. But the voter also needs a way to distinguish
you in order to make an informed choice. After observing your
colleagues/competitors for a while, in what way do you distinguish yourself
from them as the best choice for the 2nd District?
What most obviously differentiates me from my colleagues/competitors is the fact that I am the one candidate with national political experience. Though I'm not a politician, I've been a highly visible and nationally well-known enviro-political activist who has been influential in shaping public policy and debate for more than a decade.

To give a few specific examples of my experience with government, I've worked with the Oregon Legislature to pass two Memorials related to ending the Forest Fee program. I've worked with Republicans and Democrats in the US House of Representative to twice introduce legislation calling for the end of that program. I was invited to give, and did give, testimony before a Congressional hearing and was appointed to, and served upon, a federally sanctioned negotiated rule-making task-force. I have also worked outside of the official process to influence political direction. For example, I've organized three 'National Days of Action' against forest fees which, in total, involved more than 100 coordinated demonstrations in sixteen states.

What also differentiates me from the other candidates is something I've learned as a result of campaigning together with the other candidates. I've discovered that audiences really appreciate that I speak passionately straight from the heart. When I say I'm running in order to restore honesty, integrity and ethics to Washington DC, those hearing my words believe me. Perhaps that is what most distinguishes me.