Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles), whose house district “basically disappeared,” wants to keep serving the area as Oregon’s 59th senate district senator.
Bonham is the representative for Oregon’s 59th district. He was appointed to this position in 2018 and has since won two elections. This house district was changed, and The Dalles is no longer in it.
Bonham is running for the Oregon State Senate as a Republican. He would represent the newly redrawn District 59, which now includes The Dalles, Hood River County, parts of Multnomah County (including the Columbia River Gorge), and rural areas of Clackamas County. Sen. Chuck Thompson, a Republican, used to represent this district, but he has since left office. He is on the ballot with Raz Mason, who is running as a Democrat.
“Running for the Senate wasn’t a sure thing,” Bonham said. “I thought about it a lot before I decided to run.” Bonham weighed the pros and cons of being a state senator by talking to senators he knew from his work in the legislature. In the end, he decided it would be an honour to represent rural Oregonians and business people in the Senate.
“You can’t burn your bridges as a senator,” Bonham was told, “because there are so few senators,” Bonham said that was a good thing. “Down in Salem, I like my job and my college. It’s a cool place to be because there are a lot of engaged, smart people there. “I’m trying to get along with everyone in the legislature,” he said.
Bonham said that the senate district is rural, but it has twice as many people as his current house district, even though it is only half as big. In 1 hour and 45 minutes, he can drive to the farthest places in the district.
During the session, Bonham lives in Salem. On the weekends, he goes back to his home in The Dalles.
When asked what the biggest problems in the district are, Bonham said, “We need to talk about how land is used and how that affects housing.” “Housing and how much it costs are the most important things,” he said. Even people who already own homes are affected, he said, because if they sell their home and look for a new one, the price of that new home will also have gone up a lot. “People can’t make improvements to their homes,” he said.
Bonham said he agrees with new laws passed by the legislature to make cities denser (“I voted for that”), but he also said that increasing the amount of land that can be used for housing is also part of the solution. “In some places, a lot of lands is no longer suitable for farming,” he said. Instead, single-family homes are built on 5 or 10-acre lots, which are called hobby farms and take up a lot of land.
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He said that these lands should be used for subdivisions. He said, “We’re going to have to have some sprawl, whether we like it or not.”
Bonham said that this election has a lot of good choices, and he used the race for governor as an example. All three candidates are smart and have a lot of life experience. But he hopes that either the senate or the governorship will be taken over by Republicans.
He said, “Balance is really the key.” A balance like this, instead of a super-majority like the Democrats have now, makes it possible for both parties to work together. “Neither side feels like they don’t have a say,” he said. “Someone in charge needs to make sure that decisions are made in a way that works for both sides.
This was his biggest problem with the cap-and-trade bill, which Republicans killed when they left Salem to avoid a vote. “We wanted that to go to a vote,” Bonham said, adding that Democrats didn’t have the mandate to make those changes because they didn’t campaign on the issue. “People in my district would have been hurt the most by cap and trade,” Bonham said. “It was a hard choice,” he said, “but it was the right one at that time and place.”
Bonham talked about some of the conversations he had with people of different political parties and with his colleagues. He said, “Trust is built during hard times like that. Your choice shows that you are honest.” He said that his peers chose him to be co-chair of the conduct committee because they knew they could trust him.
He also said that the governor shouldn’t make policy, but rather the legislature. “That’s just wrong,” he said, giving as an example the governor’s orders to state agencies about how to deal with climate change.
He also said that bipartisanship isn’t easy, but it’s not as hard as politics make it seem. He said, “The vast majority of lawmakers are there for good reasons.” “Politics is not what we talk about most; policy is.”
Since more than 15 years ago, Bonham has owned Maupin Stoves and Spas in The Dalles. “It’s a great company with a lot of great workers. “Being in the legislature is only possible because of the people I work with,” he said. He and his wife Lori live in The Dalles, and they have two grown children.
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