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Rural Office Politics

Are the interests of rural Oregon heard in Salem?

Are the interests of rural Oregon heard in Salem?

Oregon’s Office of Rural Policy in Salem shut its doors today. Four years ago Governor Ted Kulongoski created the office (pdf) to make sure that “the unique needs and issues” of rural Oregon were heard at the state capitol. But many people say the office was underfunded and undermanned, and was never really effective. Now, the office is closed and its one full-time employee is gone.

And just last week, Senator Ted Ferrioli, a Republican from John Day and a big supporter of the Office of Rural Policy, resigned from a panel the Governor set up to deal with rural timber payments. He said he thought the panel was discussing the wrong issues.

Many people outside of the Willamette Valley say these are examples of the huge divide between rural and urban Oregon.

Are people in Salem talking about matters of importance to rural Oregonians? Is the rural/urban divide that people mention so often just a figment of people’s imagination? Or is it a reality? What place does Oregon’s countryside have in Salem’s urban political offices?


  • Tim Nesbitt: Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Kulongoski
  • Arnie Roblan: Oregon State Representative from Coos Bay and Chair of the House Rural Policy Committee
  • Colleen Macleod: Commissioner in Union County
  • Wendy Johnson: Deputy Director and General Counsel for the Oregon Law Commission

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