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In Our View: Moeller for 49th District

Six-term legislator brings dedication, nuance, honest approach to House

The Columbian
Published: October 12, 2014, 5:00pm

Agree with him or not, Jim Moeller rarely leaves any doubt about where he stands on the issues. Moeller, D-Vancouver, is straightforward and thoughtful while working toward solutions for the state’s problems, and the people of the 49th Legislative District have elected him six times as a state representative.

The Columbian recommends a seventh trip to Olympia for Moeller, who has proven to be a strong, curious and engaged legislator. As always, this is merely a recommendation. The Columbian has confidence in the ability and the desire of the electorate to become knowledgeable of the issues and the candidates. In studying the race between Moeller and political newcomer Lisa Ross, R-Vancouver, voters will find a vast difference in the candidates’ knowledge, philosophy and presentation.

Moeller, who served as speaker pro tempore of the House of Representatives during the 2013-14 legislative session, is a firm believer in the ability of government to improve the lives of citizens. Putting that belief into action, he was the primary sponsor for 35 bills over the past two years.

Yet, he is not prone to sloganeering or political posturing, instead adopting a nuanced approach that leads to a deep understanding of the issues. On the idea of unearthing money for K-12 education, as mandated by the state Supreme Court, he said, “We are not going to be able to get there, with an additional $3 billion, without raising taxes. The argument next year is going to be, is it 1 cent or 2 cents?” he said, referring to the state sales tax.

Moeller’s solutions, to a fault, often involve tax increases. Yet his views have long played well in the progressive-leaning 49th District. “Hopefully, my colleagues, both Ds and Rs, will give us more than slogans like ‘fund education first,’ ” he said during a meeting with The Columbian’s Editorial Board.

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Moeller, who was a proponent of the proposed Columbia River Crossing, long has supported removal of a sales-tax exemption for Oregon shoppers in Clark County; supports Initiative 594, which would increase background checks for gun sales; and in the past successfully worked to overturn a voter-approved mandate of a two-thirds majority to pass tax increases. He also has repeatedly pushed for a database on which lobbyists will be required to report money they spend while meeting with lawmakers.

Many voters likely can find reason to disagree with one or all of those positions, but it is difficult to criticize the diligence Moeller brings to representing the people of his district.

Ross, in contrast, demonstrates a less thoughtful approach to the issues. She said she will assess legislation from three angles: Should the Legislature be doing it? Can we pay for it? Can it work? But she is long on rhetoric and short on solutions.

Ross has a background in accounting and stresses that she will bring an accountant’s eye to legislation. She opposes I-594, says the Legislature should fund K-12 education first and make cuts elsewhere, and opposes a sales tax on Oregon shoppers as a means to raise revenue.

While many voters might agree with those positions, Moeller’s superiority in this race was evident during a recent side-by-side interview on CVTV, where Ross read all her answers verbatim off prepared notes — including her personal history. As they have been for more than a decade, the people of the 49th District are better represented by a candidate who can think on his feet, engage in discussion and understand the intricacies of the issues. That person is Jim Moeller.

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