Decision 2020: Medford State Rep. candidates

MEDFORD, Ore. – NBC5’s Decision 2020 Election Coverage continues with a look at the race for the State Representative seat for most of Medford. Republican incumbent Kim Wallan is being challenged by a political newcomer in democrat Alberto Enriquez.

Both candidates had one thing on their minds. That’s addressing the growing housing crisis within the Jackson Co. community. While both candidates agreed that’s an issue within the greater Medford area, how they would handle the situation is a different story.

Republican State Rep. Kim Wallan is running for a second term in Salem. She tells NBC5 her priorities if reelected are getting new computers for the employment department, as well as gathering resources for fire victims in Jackson Co.

“We lost so many homes. We were underbuilding anyway. We build here in the Rogue Valley 400 homes, and we just lost 2600,” said State Rep. Wallan.

She says helping the Almeda Fire victims find a new place to call home requires county and state leaders to work together.

“Some of the regulations that have made it a lot more expensive to build some of that can be done at the regulatory level it doesn’t have to require state legislative action. But some of the land use questions are going to require some state legislative action,” said State Rep. Wallan.

Her opponent, former journalist Alberto Enriquez says affordable housing is also a top priority.

“This can’t all fall on the back of the state of Oregon. We’re gonna need federal subsidies, we’re also gonna need state subsidies. And you know we have this huge purse fund that we need to look for investments. I keep talking to the investment managers about good opportunities with rehousing Phoenix and Talent,” said Enriquez.

The work in Salem hasn’t been without controversy in recent years. Senate Republicans have walked out of sessions two years in a row. Wallan and other House Republicans joined in earlier this year.  She declined to promise that it wouldn’t happen again.

“Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that again because no the walkout wasn’t fun. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody,” said State Rep. Wallan

Enriquez for his part says he would never walk out.

“Kim, as I recall when you held teachers without a contract for a year and then they finally went on strike you thought they shouldn’t get paid. So please give back your salary to the people of Oregon,” said Enriquez.

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