Senator Jeff Golden and Mayor Randy Sparacino vie for State Senate seat

SOUTHERN OREGON, Ore. – The race for most of Jackson County’s State Senate seat is heating up and could be tight.

District 3 includes Ashland, Jacksonville and most of Medford.

Currently, the district is represented by Democratic Senator Jeff Golden who was first elected four years ago.

In Senator Golden’s quest for re-election, he said he wants to continue to work with both Democrats and Republicans.

“I think I‘ve achieved a number of things,” he said. “I think I‘ve done better than average in reaching across the aisle and trying to find legislation that both sides could support. Pretty tough thing to do these days.”

Senator Golden is running against former Medford police chief and current Medford Mayor Randy Sparacino.

He thinks the region needs to have its voice heard in Salem and believes that’s not happening now.

“I want to bring a voice to Southern Oregon back to Salem, rather than having a lot of Portland-centric legislation that has been driven out of Salem over the last several years,” Sparacino said.

Despite their differences, both Senator Golden and Mayor Sparacino agree homelessness is a top concern.

“Homelessness is on everyone’s mind,” Gold said. :It’s not a standalone issue. It’s intertwined with a lot of things, mental health, substance abuse, inadequate access to education, including community colleges, that leads people to self-sufficiency. That is a cluster of issues and we’re in a deep hole there.”

The use of water has been a big issue in the Rogue Valley.

Sparacino believes its something that doesn’t get talked about enough.

“We need to really ensure that we’re addressing the water issues,” he said. “Routinely, I hear it in the mayor’s office concerns about our watershed, and we need to ensure that we are actively protecting our watershed.”

When it comes to illegal marijuana grows in Southern Oregon, Senator Golden said the state’s improved its response.

“We’ve moved from a year ago, where we had no response to these international criminal grows that just devastated our valley to a place where, we are not out of the woods, but it is a small fraction of what it was a year ago,” he said.

Sparacino said more work is needed to help law enforcement.

“A lot of the tools that law enforcement has had to address drug interdiction have been removed,” he said. “I would like to review the laws that are adversely impacting law enforcement’s ability to enforce drug interdiction”

The two candidates didn’t hold any debates.

In fact, the only event that they appeared together at was a forum discussing these issues and many more earlier this month here on NBC5 News.

Click HERE to see the forum.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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