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Hello I'm Jeff Gold and welcome to in conversation. Southern Oregon Public Television has invited all five contenders for governor of Oregon to join us in conversation. Tonight we meet Constitution Party candidate Mary Sterrett I think that if government gets off the back of businesses and if the free market is allowed to thrive we are going to see jobs created as we have to remind ourselves all the time government does not create anything government. If it if it is doing its job well back off and let the free enterprise system the free market system it works every single time. Stay with us for in conversation with our guest Mary Sterrett Constitution Party candidate for governor of Oregon in conversation with Jeff Gold is made possible by the Ashland in Klamath Falls branches of the American Association of University Women and the patrons and producers society. Mary Stewart welcome to the conversation. Thank you I'm happy to be here. Would you tell us about
your background and your qualifications to govern the state of war. My qualifications. Well I'll get to those in a moment tell you a bit about my background. I've been in television and radio for the past 26 years spent 17 years at the ABC affiliate in Portland doing the hosting The Morning Show am Northwest I was a news anchor and a producer investigative reporter at various network affiliates on the East Coast on the west coast and then did talk radio for a number of years. That is where I became really politically charged I guess you could say never had any political ambition. But what I do believe is important is we do have a citizen legislature here in Oregon and the whole premise of that is a basically you you get people who have day jobs. They don't make a political ambition or career politics their job or other words. First job get elected second job get re-elected. I think everybody needs to look at the fact that those who work in public office should be trusted servants and that's not what we have anymore. So I consider myself qualified to run for public office because I have no
political ambition. I believe there's a job that needs to be done and I would really like people to get involved because when you when you really don't have any choice anymore you abdicate all of your all of your authority to people who just want to get in power and stay in power. That tends to give us the mess that we have right now. Let's talk a little bit about transportation. Like a lot of the state. Oregon has a major challenge we have a rapidly increasing congestion we have projections of major increases in population and daily vehicle trips. And at the moment we're cutting back on public transportation. As governor what approaches are specific initiatives might you be interested in in advancing. I'm really concerned about the fact that we see more and more congestion on the highways the highways are the lifeblood of any economy and certainly Oregon is no different. The people who are traveling those highways if you look at some of the statistics back in 96 there was a certain number of people they they say who were traveling on highways and the whole goal has been to get people out of their cars and using various modes of
transportation. But that has not changed in the projections now are saying that even in the year 2040 we are not going to see much change in that we're going to see perhaps an 8 percent decrease in the number of cars on the highways. So that belies the you know we were being told we need to spend more money on light rail. We need to spend more money on a variety of other things like bike paths and pedestrian walkways. And yet the fact of the matter is is that people want to stay in their cars and nothing's going to get them out. So we need to take the money that we need to focus on highways. We need to focus on an infrastructure which would basically give us more highways more money devoted to highways and let the gas taxes in essence the people who are paying those gas taxes are the people who are riding on the highways. Let that money go to improve highways and infrastructure and let's spend less money on things like light rail which as we know is an enormous subsidized boondoggle highway expansion is as good an answer to traffic congestion as we were going to were going to get.
That's one of the things the other thing I would throw in there and this is one of the problems that comes commensurate with you talked about we're going to see enormous increase in population. One of the reasons why we have an enormous increase in population and more cars on the roads is because we have an illegal invasion I believe. And when you have enormous numbers of people who are coming to this state illegally and we have people who are driving uninsured. We have people who are contributing to that. That's one of the reasons and that is one of the biggest or the biggest reason why we have the growth that we have in the state. So if we can address that problem I think we're going to see a reduction in not only road usage but I could go on and on about the other commensurate problems with the illegal problem. Illegal immigration is the biggest reason for organs population increase. I think that if you look at the numbers that is is the statistics show it for instance a Ninety six percent of the School Growth is directly related to immigrant students. So if you look at the can that the numbers of those who are coming into the state.
The illegal population is certainly proving that we've got you know 1 out of 10 Oregonians that is it 1 out of 10 babies now born in the state is born to illegal parents. As governor of Oregon How would you approach that problem. The way I would approach the illegal problem is to is to number one perhaps pattern ourselves after what the state of Arizona has done what they have done is they have they are now not fining not simply fining employers who hire illegals they are do they know issuing criminal indictments for those who are hiring those who are here illegally and they're seeing some success when you can can't hit from that. You have what I'd like to call self deportation. For instance if you do not have jobs available and if you which by the way hiring an illegal is is is against the law. If you do not have jobs available and you do not have housing available there's another issue you can fine landlords who are hiring who are renting to illegals. So if there are no jobs and there are there's no place to live
you're also not going to be seeing that the state of Oregon taxpayers are spending four hundred million dollars a year educating the largely immigrant population that's just going to immigrant kids who are largely here illegally. So we've got four hundred thousand four hundred million dollars a year that we're spending on that. Then we say we don't have enough money for education. If you look at the amount of money that we're spending on incarcerating those who are here illegally we're looking about thirty five million dollars a year. The estimates of what shade on what portion of those budgets go to immigrant That's right. So you've got that you've got 400 million going to to educate the students of illegal immigrants many of which these students are not even graduating. So we had that high dropout rate so that's not even an effective use of the money that we we say were using to educate them. So we that have that money coupled with the the money that we're spending on incarcerating those who are committing violent crimes. We have an
increase in the violent crime rate which is directly attributable to an illegal population. And the numbers bear this out I always tell people don't take my word for it go look this stuff up yourself. Go look at the stats go look at the numbers go to the state. These numbers are available to anybody who wants to find him out. We're also spending you know we've got a reintroduction of communicable diseases diseases we thought we had eradicated years ago like tuberculosis and hepatitis C and charges and now there are even documented cases of leprosy which is something that in this day and age we have to say where is this coming from. It is coming from an illegal population. So when you look at the public health issue the crime issue the cost of the state. In terms of dollars economics education it all really does. There's a nexus there of one problem which I'm not saying is is to blame for everything that's wrong in the state of Oregon but it's a real big piece that we need to look at and not just in terms of rhetoric but we need to actually do something about and you're saying is that the statistics are
very clear and readily available from the state if someone is skeptical about what you say for instance they can look at just go to the Oregon Department of Education and it's really hard as anybody knows to try to pull these stats out. But look at look at what the dollar cost is. The Oregon Department of Education what they spend on illegal education. OK. Illegal immigrants education. But look at that number look at the number the what the state is spending on incarceration. That will give you a real clear picture. The Department of Human Services as you know does not break it down by illegal and and legal services or you know there's no way to know that. But we do know that for instance right now the Department of Human Services can put their hands on five million dollars that has been used by welfare cheats in other words welfare cheats and we can't say you know I mean it's anybody. I mean it's certainly not just illegals who are doing this but welfare cheats have gained gamed the system out of five million dollars
and the state of Oregon is really not very proactive about criminally prosecuting people who go out of their way to to treat that cheat the system. Lawyers who are in close up on the immigration issue did I understand you to say that you would promote criminal prosecution of landlords and employers who rented or hired illegal immigrants. Absolutely and I think again in the state of Oregon has the state of Arizona has seen great success in this and I think we need to to follow suit with that. The Southern Oregon is often listed towards the top national lists as the least affordable region in the country as a function of average wages and housing costs. Do you have any thoughts on how you would approach that gap as governor of Oregon. You know what I find amazing. We hear the term smart growth being used. And I did some looking into why different areas seem to have such. A high housing costs and sometimes it just doesn't make any sense. What I have
found was that if you look at this and again there's there have been studies done there's a forty eight page study that shows that when you have smart growth or urban growth boundaries whatever the government is involved in in setting where people can build houses and all of that you will effectively add hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of. Look the cost for instance in the state of Oregon they're saying that the average price of a house is perhaps $100000 more than it would be outside of an urban growth boundary. So for instance they're even pointing to figures like $800000 which is added to the price of a house in San Francisco. Why. Because any time you have a government regulation which will determine where you can and cannot build a house you're going to add. It's not smart growth. When people have to factor this into buying a house it becomes prohibitive to buy a house in these particular areas and Oregon is certainly one of those states would you want to repeal all those loans.
If not I'm talking about zoning laws or the urban growth regrowth. I mean I think the I think the the urban growth boundary has added to the cost of a home and Oregonians need to look at that. And yeah we need to be very clear about what those urban growth boundaries are doing. Is it pricing people out of houses. I think it is. So you see it both ways you're not quite sure. Whether you'd advocate repealing urban growth back I think urban growth boundaries need to be looked at and I would I would certainly come down on the side of of cutting back on urban growth founder's salute. What if any specific changes would you make in Oregon's taxation system. We're very we're one of only a few states that is so heavily reliant on income taxes and we saw what happened when the bubble burst. You can you can effectively such and see such an enormous nosedive in the state's economy. When that happens we have too much of a reliance on on income taxes. I think we need to get rid of those. But I think that in order to be fair. Income taxes need to need to be abolished.
But you can replace that with a consumption tax with a sales tax. Only if income taxes go away entirely entirely. So would you be thinking of a revenue neutral plan where the total amount of revenue would be about the same. Well yeah I think so and I think that again when you're when you're so heavily reliant on on on an income tax you see how it the fluctuation can be you know that such a such an enormous span. Would you exempt necessities. Yes. And go into some sort of system. Absolutely the lowest income Oregonians. Let me ask you when I asked you about the gap between housing costs and wages. What were your thoughts before creating family wage jobs in Oregon. You know I have a real problem when the government starts getting involved. That's why I'm not for any kind of mandates for They'd say You know we talk about whether it's a. Minimum wage laws and prevailing wage laws. What you do is you cut people out of the equation. For instance when you mandate a certain
minimum wage job you know would you you have government saying you can't work for less than that. And I believe that as as individuals we have the right to say I choose to to to make a compact with an employer to work for less. We have kids who get priced out of jobs because they're not you know they're there and they're not working for minimum wage so minimum wage gets higher. And it it it reduces the pool of available employees. So I think that if government gets off the back of businesses and if the free market is allowed to thrive we are going to see jobs created as we have to remind ourselves all the time government does not create anything government. If it if it is doing its job well back off and let the free enterprise system the free market system it works every single time. Now the Oregonian posted a list of. Comparative list of the states at that shows Oregon 50th among 50 states and in Texas on
corporation which sounds very corporate friendly. Would you leave it there or would you want to raise that a bit would you if I'm hearing you right you. You really are not a favor of business taxation because you think that's an impediment to job creation and job attraction. I do and I and I really wonder why we're not connecting the fact that if business is paying more in taxes that is not then going to be passed on to the consumer. We seem to forget that that's what's going to happen. So if we do that then what have we done. Yes we've taxed corporations we taxed businesses. But guess who pays for that. You and I pay for that. Would you name a program or two currently in Oregon State Government. That you would either enhanced or reduce what I would it. I would reduce I would actually abolish these advocacy commissions we have. If you notice in the Oregon Constitution it says that no one group of people should have access to or get anything that another group of people doesn't. However we are spending about a million dollars now and you divide it up. We've got an Asian Commission we have an African-American commission. We have a
women a Women's Commission and we have a Native American Commission which by the way is a sovereign a sovereign state so they basically are getting money to do things that the rest of us can't. So if you were to abolish all of these advocacy commissions you'd save about a million dollars and we'd get back to where government is not getting involved promoting anybody over anybody else. Are there any larger budget programs that you'd want to eliminate or reduce. Well I would take a look at for instance we've got two and a half million dollars every biennium under the Oregon health plan going to fund. Abortions in the state of Oregon. Yet if you look on their prioritized list of services on the Oregon Health Plan a heart valve replacement goes way down here and abortions wind up going way up here so you can access abortion before you can access for instance a heart valve replacement or cleft palate repair. I'd like to see that money being used for more life affirming procedures. And again I go back to the Department of Human Services between the DHS and education that eats up 90 percent of the state's revenue. If we take a
look at some of the nonsense that can be cut out of the DHS that's an entire department there that has to be looked at clearly. But we're not looking at welfare fraud and we're not looking at some of the way some of the ways that these programs are being implemented. Look at what we spend on administration alone. You know I've got a huge bureaucracy and we've got a bunch of people pushing papers and that is where you're seeing tremendous numbers of dollars go. When your campaign started you were billed primarily as a candidate opposing abortion or opposing choice depending on which terms you want to use. Is there anything more you'd like to say about that by way of policy that you pursue or favor. You know I think that as public policy abortion has failed it has failed women and it has it has failed us as a society. I could not sit here and argue the pros and cons of abortion everybody's made up their mind on that issue. But what I will say is this that when ever historically anyone wanted to be able to excuse how they dehumanised a population or a segment or a group.
They always just denied their humanity we did that with slaves. We did that with Jews and we were able to just bargain away their humanity and excuse what we did to them. Believe in this country that we are seeing now that we have bargained away the humanity of those who are yet born. And when you can do that you compromise your own humanity. WE DID IT WE DID IT in Nazi Germany. And I say and we did it to the slaves. I don't think there's any difference about what we're doing here. Again public policy. I think it has failed but what I would like to see is that people who are taxpayers of Oregon have a choice whether they're pro-choice as you call it or pro-life not to have their tax dollars used for something that many of us still find apart. Is there any legislative changes you can organ in this connection I think you're heard you say taking abortion out of the approved measures for the Oregon health plan if I understood that anything else. Well I think that they're doing this in the state of Michigan. We have a human life amendment to our constitution that does what civil government is designed to do and that
is if you look at the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution says that you know basically that we afford civil protections to to all people in this country. And I would like to be able to say in this state that we acknowledge the humanity of the Preborn Oregonians among the ballot measures this time. Are there any that you particularly strongly. Oppose or favor very much favor a ballot measure 48 which if you look at the two the Republican and the Democrat in this governor's race tell us with 40 OK ballot measure 48 would put a spending cap on state in other words a state can only spend a certain amount of money that's the that's the short version. And when I see I believe the Oregonian called it a virtual mind meld between the Republican and the Democrat in this race. They both do not seem to think that it is reasonable to ask government to put a cap on what they spend. Now you and I have to put a cap on what we spend but they don't think that it's reasonable to ask State Government to
put a limit on what they spend. I think it just makes sense there has to be some point at which we say this is this is as much as you get to spend and that's it. Any of the measures come to mind where you're going to cast a strong no vote. Boy at this particular point in time the campaign finance laws while they're well intentioned I think we have to realize that as we've seen certainly even recently there's always an end run around any campaign finance law that people can give money to this one to launder it to make it get where they wanted to go. We're we're we would be limiting free speech if we limited how much money you could give to a candidate. And as a candidate minor party candidate who obviously has to has to make do with a whole lot less than the what I call big box candidates are doing in terms of their financing. You know I'm at a disadvantage I don't have all that that that money but I do think we have to we are a fine line when it comes to telling people they can't give money to a political candidate or cause shows or anything to be done or who we're now one of two or
three stage essentially without restrictions on campaign. Financing would you leave it that way as governor is there an approach you'd advocate. I would try to advocate more of a climate whereby we took a look at big huge donations because as you know when you get into office after having been given huge million dollar contributions you don't get in there and not have to pay these people back. And we know that. Of course we know who's funding the Democrat in this race and we know who's funding Republican in this race. We know when they get into office they've got to pay these people back. That's not representing the people. I really think we have to look at how we can do it without limiting free speech it's a tough one to her way. You know I don't know that there is I know I look at the McCain fine Feingold that whole thing has done nothing but put the put the skids on free speech. The other the other major approach is public financing which of course the city of Portland is trying.
What's your view right. You know I don't know what some of the downfalls of it are of course they've they've they've they've tried that and has been interesting to watch how it's worked obviously there was a little scandal associated with the first attempt at Nat that painted it with a negative with a negative light. I think that might be one way to go but I just don't know whenever you've got public funds and stuff you kind of tend to muddy the waters. Let's go back for a moment to public education and education in general. In Oregon I think I heard you say one way you would save funds is by not sure having legal immigrants and if I heard you right there part of education estimated 400 million dollars being spent on immigrants but they don't break that down illegal and illegal to get that right. Well you can break down the illegal from the from the immigrant population. But what I'm saying is is that there is largely that money is largely going to fund because the vast number the vast majority of those who are who are immigrants are illegal immigrants.
The vast majority of immigrants are illegal immigrant yes. At this point in time is that is that an Oregon state incidence that it's a national statistic as well. And I asked people to check me on this. We have we have the vast number of those who are in this country as as immigrants who are here illegally. And we were shown that because I did know that although you can look at for instance you can look at the that the census figures you can look at the Oregon Department of Education will it will give you information and the way and the way I would I would ask people to to weigh this is for instance and in the chute's County. Chute's county spends one hundred thirty one dollars per talented and gifted student. The state spends the county spends an extra twenty six hundred on teaching an English language learner. The vast majority of English Language Learners are here illegally. So when you look at the disproportionate number of dollars spent on we've got tagged kids. We're getting 131 bucks.
Twenty six hundred dollars extra extra for an English language learner. That's what I say is the problem and to go back to your question about education if this is where we're spending our money how can we possibly ask Oregon taxpayers to to to throw more money after programs that are typically not working. Do you have any other thoughts about improving the quality of education in Oregon. Absolutely. I think that for instance if you look at the 1950s we have quadrupled the cost of education in the state adjusted for inflation. On education we had bigger class sizes. We spent less money. We had a better outcome. When you do centralize education so we have a mandate the Oregon legislature has made it mandated that the taxpayers fund government education. Having said that that does not mean that what that the government has the government own district has to be the sole provider for education. So if you are were to decentralize it bring it back down to the control of the parents and the local
school boards get the state out of the curriculum business. I say get the federal government out of the education business and let the parents and the school districts decide what they want their kids to learn and how they want them to learn. Let the money follow the students. And you're going to see a better result. It'll cost less because 88 cents out of every education dollar is funding Labor and Pensions. That's not going to kids. Mary in our last minute or so what would you like Oregonians to be thinking about as they fill out their ballots these days. What I would like them to do is to take a look at the political pedigree of the two big box candidates in this race the Republican and the Democrat. Both of them have supported the same candidates the same causes and have the same political ideology that does not give us a choice. They would get more of the same. I think we need to look outside of the box and start to look at what we do want and we need to stop wasting our votes by voting for in essence two wings on the same bird and in our last winter the new policy priorities you have as governor that we haven't mentioned policy priorities. I
think we've pretty much covered it all I think we really need to look at how big government has to be before we finally say I'm nuff. MARY STEWART I want to thank you for finding time to join us in conversation. I also want to thank you for stepping up to offer yourself for public service. Thank you so much. Merry Sterrett is the Constitution Party candidate for governor of Oregon. Thank you for joining us in conversation. I'm Jeff golden. Tonight in conversation with Jeff golden continues on our website. You can watch the full program again online PTV dot org. In conversation with Jeff Goldman is made possible by the actual in Klamath Falls
branches of the American Association of University Women and the patrons and producers society.
In Conversation With Jeff Golden
Mary Starrett - Constitution Party
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Southern Oregon Public Television
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Southern Oregon PBS (Medford, Oregon)
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Episode Description
Host Jeff Golden speaks with gubernatorial candidate Mary Starrett. Topics discussed include: her background in journalism, her lack of political ambition for its own sake, traffic and population congestion, public transportation, illegal immigration, education, the governments role in business, minimum wage, the income tax and campaign financing.
Series Description
In Conversation is a talk show featuring in-depth conversations about public affairs.
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Race and Ethnicity
Public Affairs
Consumer Affairs and Advocacy
Politics and Government
Copyright 2006 Southern Oregon Public Television All Rights Reserved
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Director: Fay, Brad
Distributor: KSYS
Editor: Riley, Jessey
Executive Producer: Fay, Brad
Executive Producer: Stanislawski, Mark
Guest: Starrett, Mary
Host: Golden, Jeffrey
Producer: Golden, Jeffrey
Producing Organization: Southern Oregon Public Television
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Southern Oregon Public Television (KSYS/KFTS)
Identifier: SH384001 (KSYS Channel 8)
Format: Betacam: SP
Generation: Original
Color: Color
Duration: 00:28:03:00
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Chicago: “In Conversation With Jeff Golden; Mary Starrett - Constitution Party,” 2006-10-19, Southern Oregon PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
MLA: “In Conversation With Jeff Golden; Mary Starrett - Constitution Party.” 2006-10-19. Southern Oregon PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2024. <>.
APA: In Conversation With Jeff Golden; Mary Starrett - Constitution Party. Boston, MA: Southern Oregon PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from