Midterms 2018: An Interview with Ken Moore
By Dan Neill
WashCo Dems Communication Committee Member
Nearly 40 years ago, Ken Moore built his house in the woods near Yamhill, with his own hands and using the trees growing on the homesite. He worked for Intel in Hillsboro, and later at Hewlett Packard in McMinnville.
Now, Ken is running again for House District 24, which extends from McMinnville in the south to its northern boundary in Washington County on TV Highway. He is involved with various local initiatives because he genuinely cares about his community. For years, he has hosted a community talk show featuring guests from local businesses, schools and government agencies. His interviews can be seen on Facebook and YouTube, as well as being broadcast on local cable access TV.
Moore is running for office for the third time–his previous campaigns were in 2014 and 2016.
What is it that drives you to run for office for a third time?
I first became politically active after Citizens United. I have progressive values and believe working people deserve a living wage and a voice in elections that speaks louder than corporate “people”.
I started to run for office in 2014 because I saw the need for improvements in transportation, education, and affordable housing – all key drivers of business and innovation, because everyone knows corporations need infrastructure (both for employee commutes and business operations), schools (to turn out productive employees), and housing (key to the health of employees and customers).
Where do we get the money for this? My belief is that tax incentives for corporations are often not the proper way to spend tax dollars. This process is too easily manipulated by lobbyists and legislators supported by corporations to make rules that they can take advantage of, such as Measures 103 and 104. In recent decades that influence has succeeded, reducing our corporate state tax from 18% to 7% . On top of that, corporations are often made out to be the victim of the government with media messages like “Oregon is an unfriendly business environment” when we actually have the lowest corporate tax rate and our GDP is often in the national top 10. In short, they are getting more and paying less than in any other state, and that’s why we need to focus on corporations to fairly fund the services they rely on.
The first time I ran it was against Jim Weidner in 2014, and it was close–came within 5% of winning, but I ran a compressed campaign starting just 9 months before the general election. So I knew I was competitive and kept staying active in the community, volunteering, getting familiar with the needs and strengths of our district. In 2016 I lost to Ron Noble, an ex-chief of police of McMinnville, who is also running again as my current opponent. Noble speaks moderately but very seldom crosses the aisle on a split decision.
Homelessness and housing affordability are big problems not just in the Portland area but our region in general. What would you do to address these issues?
I believe there are two pieces to this: transitional housing and then affordable housing. Obviously, the first step is to get a roof over someone’s head if they don’t have one. Cities are strapped for resources, often struggling to keep the roads repaired and staff their fire and police departments, and so we need support from the counties, the state and partnerships with non-profits. There are different kinds of housing resources for the homeless: “high bar” (must be clean and not have certain convictions) and “low bar” (no requirements, “housing first”) and it’s the lack of low bar housing that keeps people on the streets. I met a lady at my campaign kickoff this year who had lived with her mom and sister in a tent because her mom had an addiction and so they could not get into a temporary housing situation. What’s affecting affordable housing is that the demand exceeds the supply for all types of housing by about 150K units. And yet the population keeps growing. Builders find it impossible to build units that folks at or below two times the poverty level can afford and so they will need funding help. Limiting the tax deduction for the mortgage interest on a second home would be a good source of funding for the homeless.
Many Oregonians are struggling to pay health care expenses, how would you help?
I want health care for all Oregonians. I know insurance salespeople who tell me what they are offering is not the best use of our money and they advocate for a single payer system. I knock on people’s doors and can see there are many Oregonians who are having to choose between paying the rent and their health care, and that ties back into the problem of homelessness. I am an advocate for Health Care For All Oregon.
We hear the Pacific Northwest is due for a major earthquake. What are your plans for Oregon for disaster preparedness and infrastructure improvements?
We have a network of key bridges that have to be hardened to survive “the big one,” high-priority bridges, and that process has hardly begun. The 2017 transportation bill was not enough, we need more to even catch up on our infrastructure’s deferred maintenance, let alone get ready for “the big one.”
This has been a tough couple of years for Democrats. What keeps you going? What would you say to your potential constituents about keeping focused and positive about the future?
I think the current GOP with all their screw-ups is just making voters more and more fed up, and when we see hate groups put forth an IP like Measure 105 (repeal of protections against racial profiling), it acts as a rallying cry for all progressives to band together and vote. Practically speaking, the Neighborhood Leader Program is the best way for people to contribute and get involved immediately.