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Mar-15-2012 15:40printcomments

Race for the Legislature: House District 12

Both candidates plan to do a lot of canvassing to make direct contact with voters.

Night shot of the Oregon State Capitol
Night shot of the Oregon State Capitol.
Photo by Tim King

(SALEM) - Many candidates for public office will spend the next several months trying to convince voters that they understand voters’ frustration over the state of the national economy.

It may be easier than most for Oregon House District 12 candidate Sandra Mann, as she has faced some of those issues herself.

Mann is one of two Democrats vying for the seat being vacated by Rep. Terry Beyer, D-Springfield. The winner of the May 15 primary election will face Joe Pishioneri, who is the sole Republican seeking the seat.

Although she is a credentialed teacher, Mann said she has struggled lately with underemployment and economic anxiety.

“There are a lot of us credentialed teachers working as aides now because there are not enough substitute teaching jobs,” Mann said.

Both of Mann’s parents served in World War II, and she was part of the Baby Boom that followed the end of that conflict. Her parents had a house at the edge of the suburbs and were able to send her to college.

“We just thought it would go on like that,” Mann said.

John Lively is also seeking the Democratic nomination for HD 12. A former mayor and city councilor for Springfield, Lively hopes his experience in public service will be enough to convince voters to send him to Salem to represent them.

Lively’s service includes stints on several boards, such as the Lane Regional Air Pollution Authority and the Lane County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“I feel so strongly that people in communities need to step in to those volunteer positions, and find solutions so the people that live here can get on with their lives, that I love to do it,” Lively said.

When Beyer decided to retire from the legislature, Lively said, he was among the people she approached about running for the seat. The two have been friends for a long time, he added, but that didn’t stop him from initially passing up the opportunity to run for the legislature.

Lively eventually changed his mind and threw his hat in the ring.

“It’s something I’ve always been interested in, but I never felt compelled before, as I was always very supportive of the representatives of my district and who they were and had no reason to run against them,” Lively said.

Mann’s professional life has involved stints working for various public entities in multiple states, mostly in social work and education. That experience has enabled her to look at how different states manage similar programs.

“It was a good basis for comparison,” Mann said.

As a substitute teacher, Mann has gotten to see classroom sizes swell over time. She said it’s now typical for teachers to have around 33 to 34 children in a class, without any aides around to help provide more individualized attention to students.

“Kids are falling through the cracks,” Mann said.

Aside from health care and education, Mann rates the need for living wage jobs as her top issue heading into the campaign.

This may be the first time that Mann has ever been a candidate, but she’s no stranger to the hectic whirlwind of political races.

Her political involvement began in high school, as she publicly protested the Vietnam War. But Mann’s first campaign work began in 1976. She has since worked on campaigns for former Texas Governor Ann Richards, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and the presidential races of Al Gore and John Kerry.

“This is something I’ve wanted to do for decades, literally,” Mann said. “It seemed like everything aligned itself.”

Education, health care and the need for more jobs and private investment are also top priorities for Lively. He said he is working on an initiative to make sure that children six years old and younger are prepared for school. He also has been involved in efforts to increase access to health care in Lane County.

Both candidates plan to do a lot of canvassing to make direct contact with voters.

“My strategy, overall, is to get out and meet and get in front of as many people as I can,” Lively said.

Mann said she intends to hold meet-and-greet sessions throughout the district.

“I really want to run a low-budget campaign,” she said. “It can be done.”

Special thanks to Oregon Capitol News

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