VALE – Two local candidates competing in the May primary for a chance to face District 30 incumbent state Sen. Ted Ferrioli both feel they can offer local voters a new path forward.
Stormy Ray, Ontario, and Mark Stringer, Nyssa, are Democrats vying for a chance to take on Ferrioli, a John Day Republican and longtime senator, in the November general election. First one of them must win the May 17 Democratic primary.
Ray said her efforts as a longtime medical marijuana activist will help her be a solid representative for the region.
“I have worked 18 years in developing the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, and it has been a real struggle to keep it focused on the patients that needed the program,” she said.
Ray said during her work on medical marijuana, she has felt a disconnect between voters and the people they elect.
“A lot of times our Legislature is not real closely attuned to what is actually happening on their constituents’ level,” she said.
Ray said she sees a narrow-minded approach to existing state programs by lawmakers.
“Every program, every service we have in Oregon is never set in stone. If it is, it becomes antiquated. It always needs to be readdressed every year to make sure that program or that service is actually following the pattern intended for the benefit of the people who utilize it,” she said.
Ray said the legalization of marijuana in Oregon offers a ready source of funding local counties could use. However, many counties and cities in Eastern Oregon have opted out and won’t receive funds from the sale of recreational marijuana. She said that’s a missed opportunity.
While Ray is a relative newcomer to politics, Stringer is no stranger to elections. In the mid-1980s Stringer ran for state office – but lost – yet the Democrat from Nyssa believes he can make a real difference for the area if he wins the primary and defeats Ferrioli.
Stringer said Ferrioli has been in office long enough.
“Sen. Ferrioli has been there for 20 years and, to be honest, most people don’t know his name. And John Day (Ferrioli’s home) is not really the center of our population,” Stringer said.
Stringer said his roots in the area – he was born and raised in Nyssa – give him a good perspective regarding the issues that are important to area voters.
“I am a super-fiscal conservative and I am in tuned with the area, especially agriculture. My No. 1 concern is to represent my constituents,” he said.
Stringer believes he can serve the region.
“I am excited. I will do well. Whether or not I will win, I don’t know. But I think I can make more of an impact for the people in our area in District 30 than my predecessor,” he said.