Having never actually seen Donna Nelson speak until tonight, I was shocked. This woman really is a complete airhead. The entire debate, I'm not sure she said a thing. That's a bit of an exageration, but not completely off the mark. Donna Nelson came in wearing a Linfield sweatshirt, by her opening statement she had shown the audience what she wore at the football game two weeks ago that earned her "best outfit". And the entire debate, her response to every single question was to say that she "loves us," it was put on very strong that her one message was that she is part of the community and loves everyone in it. Policies were completely irrelevent and almost untalked about by this woman. The closest she ever really came to establishing a position on something was to talk about the constituant work that she has done, which is an important part of the job, but Yamhill County residents (and the residents of all counties) should expect some leadership from their Representative, Nelson appeared totally incapable of providing any real leadership in Salem.
The real debate of the night therefore, was between Peralta and Terry. While I disagreed with almost everything Terry said (immigration being the one exception where I didnt agree with him but liked his answer more than the other two), he came accross as an intelligent hard right winger with ideas. This was in a way what made the debate interesting, since Nelson was so frustrating with the nothingness that she responded to all questions with. There was a strong exchange of ideas tonight, but not because Donna Nelson brought any, the real substantive focus became the exchanges between Peralta and Terry.
The moment in the debate that I thought was most interesting was when David Terry was asked about how poverty should be confronted. Terry took a position so far to the right that it was somewhat amazing, he was literally off the map, and said that poverty needs to be addressed through growth, but not growth in the traditional economic sense of rising GDP, but growth outside of cities, he said that "high density is for insects" and actually supported urban sprawl, this seemed to be driving to the point that we need more economic developement in wild areas and should quit worrying about environmental concerns. Nelson then responded first by arguing with the question, but then (after Prof. Gutterman rephrased it to get her to answer) went into one of her constituant service spiels and finally said that poverty is best dealt with by getting people jobs (which should be so obvious that it isnt worth saying). Next it was Sal Peralta's tern, and he seized upon the question to launch into a pretty compelling discussion of our obligations to one another. The idea that, as Peralta put it "I am my brother's keeper". He talked about a single mother he met recently who makes only $600 a month and yet is above the limit to qualify for Oregon Health Plan coverage. This is something that must change, and Peralta is committed to finding better solutions for people.
Originally, I thought Blue Oregon's theme of "big hair vs. big ideas" was kind of a funny joke, but it really wasnt, the only thing Donna Nelson had to offer voters was that she was one of us and that she loves us. Voters of Yamhill County deserve a leader, and that leader is Sal Peralta.
The debate was aired on KSLC radio 90.3 FM McMinnville, and was videotaped. When I can I will post the video and possibly audio recording of the debate here so that you can watch it. I kid you not, it was stunning how empty Donna Nelson was, and once I get that posted you can see it for yourselves, because my discription could not possibly do it justice.