Make the McKenzie Connection!

Which way of living do we want?

Guest Opinion

As the Harbick green signs appear again for the third year along the McKenzie River, it felt like a good time to do some research online to give me some tools in my attempt to be a responsible voter.

The first thing I did was to pull up Mr. Harbick’s submission to the Oregon Voters Overseas/Military Pamphlet (

The second thing and I humbly admit my complete lack of knowledge he even existed, I saw Charlie Conrad’s name also listed for State House District #12, so I pulled that one up for reading also, and was very impressed.

I didn’t need to know what his private life was like (none of my business), nor be told his religious beliefs (also none of my business), but his statement in the voter's pamphlet told me everything I did need to know --- his impressive education, his long years of community service through his public law enforcement work, his willingness to serve on the Lane County Planning Commission (taking long, LONG hours of unpaid reading and preparation, let me tell you from experience!), and finally his, dare I say refreshing, dedication to serving his electorate over party politics and the current Republican lust-for-power-for-power’s-sake, as evidenced by his accomplishments and endorsements.

Then I pulled up Rep. Conrad’s website ( and read through his biography, perused all his attached newsletters, interviews, etc., all organized well and readily available to his constituents, all demonstrating an individual, regardless of party affiliation, who understands the vital need for accountability and transparency. All in all, it appears he’s done a tremendously good job as a freshman representative in state government.

Lastly, I listened to his OPB “Thinking Out Loud” interview on May 31, 2023, and I was struck by his openness in explaining the personal education process he went through to come to some of the difficult decisions he made on behalf of all Oregonians --- and I truly thank him for his bravery, and humanity, to not only be an independent and critical thinker, but also listen to his heart, and then combine these two often contrary human attributes to move ahead with compassion, understanding and basic respect for his fellow human beings.

Democrat or Republican, it doesn’t matter; he did the right thing. We need more people like him to represent us in government.

I also read last year’s June 29th, 2023 article in the Oregon Capitol Chronicle entitled “Oregon Republicans mount campaign against one of their own while constituents defend him ( Some of the language expressed in the article by those who are attempting to get him out of state government are simply inflammatory, incorrect, arrogant, and frankly, scary.

Time and time again surveys taken in rural America show that at least 64% of those surveyed support a woman’s right to choose her healthcare destiny, so Republicans who state their representatives don’t respect their rural, anti-abortion-for-all political stance are either uneducated or intentionally lying.

Rep. Conrad is not out of touch with his rural constituents. The use of “Pro-life” is a misuse of the English language; life is everywhere, not just in a woman’s womb. When I think of someone being ‘pro-life’, I think of, for instance, Jane Goodall, who has spent her entire life promoting the sanctity of all life, that, just in case we forget, human life is completely dependent upon. The whole anti-abortion movement was a political ploy concocted by the Republican financial elite to rally the evangelical community for votes because they determined this group was the most easily conned.

Don’t take my word for this, do the research yourself, just like I did, and you will be forced to come to the same conclusion. It’s an old story. Human beings are not the only con artists; there are many other animals, even insects, who are experts in the same behavior. You’d think our species would learn, but we seem bound to repeat the same mistakes; it’s bad enough to be conned, but admitting we’ve been conned is ten times worse, and so the story goes….

Rep. Conrad is also correct about gun control, which an overwhelming number of Americans support, and have for many years. Americans overwhelmingly want to see the wealthy in the U.S. pay their fair share of taxes. They overwhelmingly want protection from scams, the threat to their family’s health by businesses that pollute the air, water, and ground indiscriminately, and the real threat to democracy by those who would put a dictator in power. They overwhelmingly want an infrastructure that works, not just for humans, but for our animal and plant brothers and sisters, too. They overwhelmingly want a healthy public educational system that upholds a strong community and helps their children learn to be critical thinkers. They overwhelmingly want to avoid punishing the poor for being poor and struggling with the American crisis of health care.

History teaches us that, if human beings who decide to live together and build community don’t prioritize the health and well-being of their neighbors, regardless of any religious and political affiliations, then there will be no community at all. Just contagion, in which those that have rule those that don’t, and truth and compassion get thrown out the window. This is the critical reason government is created, and it can only reflect our priorities.

Which way of living do we want? We must decide, and stand forward to say it, gently but firmly.

Respectfully submitted


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