Republican candidate for governor Kevin Mannix spoke at Portland State University on Friday evening and answered questions from students covering a wide range of issues.
Jason Lowery, ASPSU multicultural affairs director, started the session with a mention of Mannix’s candidacy for governor and immediately opened the room for questions from the students.
Mannix used humor to welcome his audience and expressed his pleasure to engage the student community in issues of politics and governance.
“However, my final exam is election day, so if you like what I say, then talk to your friends or mum’s the word,” Mannix said.
Mannix was kept busy fielding a steady stream of questions from various corners of the room.
The OSPIRG group started the discussion with an inquiry of his strategic plans for cleaning the Willamette River.
Mannix foresaw the situation as containing two issues, the sewage issue and the large percentage of toxins in the water.
Mannix said that the current sewage system is not effective during heavy rains, when storm water tends to spill into the sewage water. The city and county officials propose a 10-year plan. Mannix said this is too long.
“We need to expedite the construction of the sewage system. Instead of a series of construction projects, do it in tandem,” he said.
While acknowledging that the short-term cost would be considerable, Mannix said that his priority would be to make “the Willamette swimmable by the first year and drinkable by the second year” in office.
With regard to the issue of the dangerous levels of accumulated toxins already in the Willamette, Mannix denounced “the current policy of determining liabilities first and cleaning up later.”
“I want the government to step in and clean up and then deal with the liability issues that could take 10 years,” Mannix said.
The next issue brought to the podium was the recent proposal of a tax surcharge and a $23.5 million cut for public institutions. Mannix described this situation as “thwarting higher education.” He felt that the tax mechanism was unnecessary and there was no way he would let higher education to be cut back and lose priority.
Jason Lowery raised the issue of Mannix’s stand on the welfare program. Mannix felt that it was extremely important to “package education and work it into progress.”
Students also raised concern over the “F” grade Oregon received from a national study for education provided in the state and the rising costs of tuition in tandem with less financial aid being granted.
In response, Mannix described his role in an education committee formed in the early ’90s that planned for statewide education programs by the year 2010. This plan consisted of several components that would increase vigilance in undergraduate and graduate course loads and diversity requirements. In addition, the committee would work toward increasing the accessibility of higher education while keeping costs minimal.
“By the end of my four years in office, if elected, I foresee fully funded higher education,” Mannix said.
At this point, he also interjected he appreciated the opportunity.
“I am open to student input, as you are the real customer with bright and fresh thinking,” he said.
Students also asked him about his strategic planning of state funds and resources. Mannix foresaw state funding for projects where higher education and secondary-education costs would decrease. The Oregon Health Plan has shown an increase in funding, from 3 percent to 9 percent, which he felt was a significant sign.
“I advocate accountability for crime and prevention of crime, balanced use of resources, and encourage the continuation of accountability issues and higher-education spending” he said.
The discussion returned to the clean-up of the Willamette River when a member of OSPIRG inquired about what role he saw corporations playing in the clean-up. In response, Mannix noted that there were different stages of responsibility in this issue, since some properties had only recently been acquired by business owners as opposed to some long-term owners.
“I will want to hold the polluters responsible but be fair. I want to see the finality of the process. We will do the clean-up but let the polluters pay for the process,” he said.
In response to questions concerning reproduction equity and health programs, Mannix said, “My concern is getting as much health insurance as possible for people who work. I’m interested in putting government money into programs that enhance and increase human potential.”
He also advocated an aggressive economic development plan, increasing the income of businesses to increase state revenues from income taxes, and an increase in investment in the state.
In conclusion, Mannix reiterated his earlier remarks, saying, “I want to come back and be visible to the Portland State community. You folks are the future.”
For more information on Kevin Mannix’s campaign for governor, visit www.mannixfororegon.org.