U.S. Bank branch manager Tami Vines-Anderson (right) points out a feature of the new office of Rep. Lynn Findley (R-Vale) during an open house last week in Vale. Findley, a freshman lawmaker who represents Oregon's rural District 60, is on the road three days out of the week talking to voters. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)
VALE – It doesn’t look like an office.
The green Ford F-250 parked on Court Street in Vale last week blended in.
A passersby, if they noticed it all, saw a style of vehicle familiar to rural towns of eastern Oregon.
Yet for state Rep. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, the truck has become a mobile office the past six months. He spends up to three days a week behind the wheel, traveling the interstate or the rural roads of Oregon’s sprawling District 60.
“My desk is my pickup,” said Findley.
Friday, the truck stood silent as Findley welcomed local residents to an open house for his new office in Vale. But the truck, and what it now represents for Findley, was never far from the freshman lawmaker’s mind.
Findley, the retired Vale city manager who was appointed to the state post earlier this year, is constantly on the move. He gathers feedback about economic issues in Harney County or attends a ribbon cutting for a new water treatment plant in Baker County or hosts town hall sessions in Malheur County.
“I represent 65,000 people and to do that I need to be all over,” said Findley.
Findley said he is optimistic about the future.
“I think we can do good things for the district,” he said.
One big step toward the future Findley said is establishing the new office at 151 Court St. S., a half block from the courthouse. The office will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“It’s a great location,” Findley said.
But Findley won’t spend much time there. Instead, he will be out in his district searching for issues that impact voters.
The district, which covers Baker, Grant, Harney, Malheur and portions of Lake counties, features an array of challenges, said Findley.
“In Harney County, it’s economic development. In Baker County, it’s tourism. In Malheur County, it’s the trans rail facility and the gold mine. It is a diverse district. They are all different but all critical,” said Findley.
Findley said he is eager for the next legislative session in January because he will be the vice chair of the House Revenue Committee.
“That is kind of unheard of and it’s a big deal-committee and I am a freshman,” said Findley.
Findley said legislators have to tackle tax reform.
“My definition of tax reform is probably not the same as many of my colleagues,” he said.
Because Findley is a member of the minority party – there are 35 Democrats and 25 Republicans in the House – he said working across party lines would be essential.
“You have to walk across the aisle. However, some of the partisanship, the depth of the partisanship, can be frustrating,” said Findley.
Friday, Findley kept his focus on people who filtered into his new office. He chatted and shook hands and laughed.
But across the street, in the shadows, stood the green Ford.
When the people departed and the cookies were put away, Findley grabbed his briefcase, walked across the street and jumped behind the wheel.
Then he was off, driving into the heart of eastern Oregon for another event where he could do what he loves – talk to voters.
Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.