A second Independent candidate has filed to run for the Oregon State Legislature. Brian Halvorsen of Rockaway Beach will challenge Democratic incumbent Representative Deborah Boone of Cannon Beach in House District 32.
Tell us about your background?
I grew up in a working-class family in the St. Johns neighborhood of Portland where the value of community service was instilled in me largely thanks to my grandmother, who was an elementary school teacher.
I went to Benson Polytechnic High School from 2006 to 2010 and majored in radio broadcasting. After high school I pursued a career in journalism, which led to a short internship at a rural New Mexico newspaper The Guadalupe County Communicator.
I returned to Oregon in December 2010 and moved to Tillamook County in early 2016. I’ve fallen in love with Tillamook County. Not only does it have some of the most beautiful scenery in Oregon, but a slower pace I appreciate.
And you’re new to the Independent Party right?
Yes, in 2010 I was volunteering with the Democratic Party, but was becoming disillusioned with a lack of progressive action on the state level and what I viewed as a right-wing foreign policy at the federal level. Ultimately I left the Democratic Party before the 2012 general election.
Then in 2015 when Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for presidency I re-registered as a Democrat and again felt hopeful that progressive goals could be achieved. But as I saw how the DNC operations favored the insider that election, I came to see that progressive change was not going to come within the Democratic Party.
So what got you thinking of running for public office?
It was when Sen. Sanders released a video the summer of 2016 calling on his supporters to run for office. So I began looking into local politics to find a race that needed a progressive candidate. And House District 32, where Deborah Boone is the incumbent, just stuck out.
Rep. Boone is a Democrat but has been on the wrong side of marriage equality, supported Republican Sen. Gordon Smith in 2008 over then State Rep. Jeff Merkley, and joined most Republican representatives in 2015 in opposing a carbon-tax. She was also fined by the legislature in 2007 after she accepted free lodging while at a lobbyist event in Portland.
Obviously I’m pretty progressive, so I attended some Oregon Progressive Party meetings. It was refreshing to see such dedicated people (David Delk, Dan Meek, Jason Kafoury, Liz Trojan, David Hess) on the local level fighting for issues that the Democrats and Republicans ignore.
What in particular drew you to the Progressive Party policies?
Their tireless work on campaign finance reform. The fact that the Oregon Progressive Party, who have under 2,000 members, is doing more on campaign finance than the Democrats, who have 38% of registered voters in this state, blows up the critique that third parties aren’t effective. It actually leads me to believe the reverse — that the leadership of the Democratic Party of Oregon are the real opponent of progress. They lull their base into a false sense of superiority with perfect rhetoric about limiting money followed by zero action.
Tillamook County isn’t necessarily thought of as progressive territory
I don’t know about that. I think they’ll welcome a progressive Independent candidate. I started my own political group in May 2017 called North Coast Progressives, which I set up as a way to help north coast residents navigate the difficulties of running for office by networking them with local activists, candidates and volunteers; and informing them on the filing process. Ultimately I’d like the group to provide public information on upcoming elections with candidate surveys and host town hall events with local officials, members of the community and local press.
So you’ve got a progressive policy background, and we know that more an more people are joining the Independent Party, and now running to be the Independent candidate. How did that happen?
I started putting my campaign apparatus in place and spoke with the Dan Meek who works with both the Progressive and Independent Parties. He told me about the benefits of running in the Independent Party primary since it was a major party in Oregon. I know that many of the goals of IPO and the Progressive Party around reform and transparency parallel so I’m excited to have the ability to make my case for nomination for the 32nd district as an Independent.
Now I don’t think this is related, but I was born on July 23, 1992 which was around the same time that independent candidate for President Ross Perot was dropping out of the ’92 race (which he would later re-enter). When I was born I was bald and had big ears that stuck straight out. Obviously this led to my first nickname, ‘Ross Perot’, which luckily didn’t stick for too long.
Will you stick with a straight progressive party type platform as an Independent Party candidate?
I realize I won’t have a chance to win the general election if I don’t create a widely diverse coalition of voters within my community from across the political spectrum and I believe the IPO primary will help me create a foundation for that. I hope that, as was the case with Bernie Sanders, people will support me because I’m honest, want what’s best for the working people of Oregon, and I’m not beholden to special interests.
What issue do you think rill resonate with independent voters who may not hold a widely progressive viewpoint?
Campaign finance reform. I intend on taking my message directly to the people, who will hopefully help me when the time comes with small dollar donations but more importantly with helping get the word out about my campaign.
If you were elected, what would be some of your priorities?
Other parts of my platform include increasing corporate taxes, creating a public bank, support for a state-wide single payer health care system, creating a supplemental social security plan for Oregonians, expanding emergency preparedness – which is particularly important for the Oregon Coast – and establishing just cause evictions to address the housing crisis.
Thank you and good luck.
To read more about Brian Halvorsen’s campaign including his entire platform, visit his website at brianfororegonhouse.com. You can contact him at *protected email* to find out about volunteer opportunities and how to support his campaign.