Legislative candidates square off; some sparks fly

Forum features Conger, Hovekamp, Knopp, Hauser

Decision 2012: :Legislative candidates face off in Bend

Four candidates running for the Oregon Legislature met Tuesday night to discuss the issues in a forum co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and COTV.

On the ballot in November, Republican state Rep. Jason Conger and Democratic challenger Nathan Hovekamp will be trying to win Bend residents' votes.

Looking to gain a seat in the state Senate, Democrat Geri Hauser and Republican Tim Knopp, the latter of whom defeated incumbent Chris Telfer in a hard-fought primary race (and who attended Tuesday's event).

"I will not be bought by lobbyists, and I will not be introducing a radical agenda in Salem," Hauser said.

"We also need a leader who has a proven track record," said Knopp.

The candidates appeared to agree on most of the issues, from reforming PERS to creating jobs in Central Oregon.

But things got heated when Hauser said Knopp had taken $25,000 from former Oregon businessman Loren Parks, who runs a medical technology firm.

"The man who was accused of having sex with hypnotized women," said Hauser, "so I don't know what kind of family man he is, to be taking that kind of money."

An online profile says Loren Parks is Oregon's biggest political contributor in state history. Knopp fired back, noting that Hauser was a supporter of Planned Parenthood.

"Loren Parks has given Planned Parenthood nearly $150,000, so unless you want to resend the endorsement from Planned Parenthood, guess what? You're a hypocrite," Knopp told Hauser.

In the race for the District 54 seat in the House, Conger said he wanted all the facts on a recent attack ad by Hovekamp. Conger said the ad told voters he was out to hurt teachers.

"Where are you getting your information," Conger said, turning to Hovekamp,  "and which votes do you disagree with that I took, specifically?"

"I do have some specific bill numbers," Hovekamp replied, "and I suggest that my opponent be very careful about what he wishes for. I do have those numbers and he does have a voting record."

Education was a focus of much of the forum, and all four candidates appeared excited to continue working on OSU-Cascades' plans for a four-year university, if they are elected.

The next League of Women Voters forum, at 5:15 p.m. Thursday at Bend City Hall, will feature a half-dozen candidates for two city council positions.

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