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The Oregon House of Representatives District 16 race has three candidates vying to represent Corvallis and Philomath.

Incumbent Sara Gelser, a Democrat seeking her fourth term, is facing Republican Andrew Decker and Libertarian Rachel Feigner.

All ballots in the Nov. 6 election are expected to be in mailboxes by Saturday.

Decker is an Oregon-licensed tax preparer and marketer for a business accounting service. In the past, he has worked as a paralegal at the Oregon Tax Court and as court clerk at the Linn County Justice Court.

Feigner, a 25-year-old Corvallis resident, chose not to participate in the Corvallis Gazette-Times coverage of the race. She indicated through email that she wanted to fill out the questionnaire, but she hadn’t had time to respond.

Gelser is co-chair of the House Education Committee and also serves on the Revenue Committee and the Joint Committee on Tax Credits. Before she entered the Legislature in 2005, she served different roles, such as a Corvallis School Board member, instructor at Linn-Benton Community College and regional coordinator for the Oregon Parent Training and Information Center.

Gelser and Decker agree that the Legislature’s top priorities should be improving the economy in order to decrease unemployment and to improve the quality of education.

Decker accuses Gelser of playing favorites to special education, and not giving enough attention to overall education or the economy.

Gelser maintains that her advocacy around special education is not focused on taking more funding or resources from other education, but upon accountability for outcomes of students. Closing the education gap is part of her platform, she said, which means implementing policies that help every kid succeed, including those with disabilities or whose first language is not English.

Decker is an advocate of reducing government regulation, which he sees as barriers to creating jobs.

Gelser wants to explore ways to stabilize the state’s revenue system, and is introducing legislation with the goal of creating more steady school funding. She recognizes, however, that it will take some sort of tax reform.

Reporter Canda Fuqua can be reached at 541-758-9548 or canda.fuqua@lee.net.

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