This is dedicated to Travis Holappa who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on July 25, 2004 in Northern Minnesota. This was all due to meth. I am Travis' mother and I wish to make this devastation turn into a better thing by educating and exposing the truth about meth, the dangers, and the deadly consequences it brings about to individuals and communities.

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Location: Colorado, United States

I want to do what I can to educate people about what is going on around the world with the meth problem. I want people to know about it BEFORE they even get the idea to want to try it. It is a dangerous drug and will ruin your life as well as all those who love you. I am on a mission on behalf of my only son, Travis.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Play Nice: Hern and Laurance avoid personal attacks, negativity during campaign (Oregon)


Dan Hern bought a wealth of name recognition in the May primary. The former Roseburg city councilor spent more than $185,000 to defeat Douglas County Commissioner Dan Van Slyke in the Republican primary.

Democratic nominee Joe Laurance, on the other hand, spent just over $4,500 in his primary race against Harry McDermott and Neil DeVaughn.

Comparing financial tally sheets, it might be easy to assume as ballots for the Nov. 7 election went out Friday that Hern holds a big edge. However, Laurance doesn't see himself scrambling to play catch-up.

He said the primary race garnered a lot of attention for both parties -- more than any other race that he can remember. Laurance said residents educated themselves on the candidates and that they're quite aware of both him and Hern. He sees the playing field as being level, which he said both surprises and pleases him.

"The advantage that I am having is that people are talking about me, person to person," Laurance, 56, said. "First-person testimony is worth more than any amount of money. And I think that my success to date is people who know me or know my family or have followed this race closely and have talked to friends and family about me. What a wonderful thing. And that's the kind of thing that you simply can't buy."

At times during the primary, it appeared Van Slyke was battling five opponents rather than just Hern and Eric Ohlsen from his own party. Most of the rhetoric from the other candidates was aimed at what they saw as shortcomings from the first-term commissioner.

Laurance focused on telling county residents who he was. He declined to speak negatively about Van Slyke and he's doing the same with Hern in his general election campaign. Hern, 68, is also focusing on his background and his views on issues.

Personalities have not entered the race. In fact, Hern and Laurance have been downright friendly with one another. After a recent economic development panel discussion that both men attended just to observe, Hern and Laurance stood outside chatting amicably long after the rest of the crowd had gone home.

"The race against Dan Van Slyke turned out to be a lot about personalities, things that had nothing to do with -- well, it had something to do with the way the county was being run. This is about two people who've never run the county before. This is about what are we going to do to keep this place a good place to live," Hern said.

Both said that before deciding who to vote for, county residents should look at their accomplishments.

Laurance said his work as an airport manager and operating his own small trucking company has given him a depth of public service and an understanding of the struggles of the working class. He is a member of a farming family whose roots in Douglas County go back generations.

"In the primary process, I had nothing negative to say about anybody. What I was trying to do was show people how I was the most qualified candidate for the job, regardless of party. And, indeed, I'm still doing that," Laurance said.

Hern points to his eight years on the Roseburg City Council, his career managing radio stations and working as the executive director of the Mercy Foundation as giving him the experience to become a county commissioner.

"I've had success in my business -- not that he hasn't -- but I've had very good success. One of the reasons that people want me to be elected is because they know I've had a successful career," Hern said.

At one time, Hern belonged to or served on the boards of nearly 30 community organizations. He is probably best known for his work as a charity auctioneer. He helped raise money for dozens of local nonprofits, including the United Way and the Winston Area Community Partnership and at events such as the Festival of Trees.

"My commitment to Douglas County goes way back," Hern said. "I didn't just start my commitment when I thought I was going to run for this office. I did it way, way back."

Both candidates see extension of the federal timber safety net and battling methamphetamine abuse as two of the county's top priorities.

"Every other problem, every other circumstance, every other issue is colored by these things," Laurance said.

Laurance and his wife, Ricci, raised three foster children whose parents were addicted to methamphetamine. The couple saw firsthand the devastating effects meth use had on those families.

"These are personal stories. It has made our involvement with this methamphetamine problem a very personal fight," Laurance said.

Hern served on an advisory committee set up when Douglas County Circuit Judge Robert Millikan established a local Drug Court 10 years ago. The program works to help people fight their addictions and keep them out of jail. Graduates have a very low rate of being arrested again.

Hern currently serves on two committees established by a task force working on the meth issue.

"I've very committed to fighting meth addiction," he said.

Douglas County faces the loss of $50 million annually if Congress doesn't extend the timber safety net. Payments have been made to more than 200 counties nationally for more than a decade to compensate them for losses in revenue from not being able to harvest trees in national forests.

Both candidates say the county would have to cut programs if the legislation, whose funding runs out at the end of the county's fiscal year next June, isn't reauthorized.

"We've got to get the safety net issue solved," Hern said.

He said the county needs to continue its efforts to bring about legislation to allow additional logging in forests. Doing so would increase revenues and allow the county to have less need for the safety net subsidy, he said.

If the safety net is lost, Laurance said he would introduce a plan to cut spending and keep the county operating without laying off employees by not replace retiring workers unless the position was critical. He would also advocate charging fees for non-essential services.

Because of the uncertain financial situation, Laurance said the county can't afford to construct the Milltown Hill Dam outside Yoncalla. Even with federal financial assistance for the project on Elk Creek, the county would have to chip in millions of dollars.

"That discussion becomes a moot point. We may need every dollar that the county can muster for simple survival after next June," Laurance said.

Hern wants to wait until a financial analysis is completed before deciding whether the dam should be shelved. If the estimates come out that it will cost more than $77 million to build the dam, the previous funding package from the federal Bureau of Reclamation would be withdrawn and it would seem impossible for the county to pay for the dam by itself.

During the primary, some of Van Slyke's supporters questioned Hern's qualifications after he spent several months in Mexico after retiring. Requirements state a candidate for commissioner must be a resident of the state for the 12 months before the election.

Hern, who defeated Van Slyke by 986 votes, said he kept ownership of his Roseburg home and maintained his voter registration, driver's license and car registration in Oregon. An assistant state attorney general concluded Hern was qualified to run.

Hern returned to Oregon after people upset with Van Slyke's leadership called him and asked him to run. Hern, who said he had grown tired of golf and other leisurely pursuits in Mexico and had planned to move back to Douglas County anyway, agreed.

Hern said he's surprised it continues to be raised.

"It's sour grapes and I'm sorry. I really am sorry because I don't want people to be mad at me or dislike me," he said. "I know this is a ploy by a few but it sure hurts your stomach when someone doesn't like you."

Both Hern and Laurance say they believe Van Slyke's supporters will play a crucial role in determining the outcome of the race.

Hern and Van Slyke have met three times since the primary ended, conversations both men describe as cordial. Van Slyke said he still feels Hern and his supporters distorted his record in office, but that he accepts the will of Douglas County residents to vote him out.

Despite encouragement by some, Van Slyke has declined to endorse Hern in the general election. However, he hasn't endorsed Laurance, either, something many of Van Slyke's supporters -- who took an anyone-but-Hern attitude after the primary loss -- have pushed him to do.

Van Slyke, who will leave office at the end of the year after serving four years, said he has spent the last few months of his term reaching out to people who criticized him during the campaign, looking for common ground.

"Giving an endorsement I think would just open that all up again and polarize people," Van Slyke said.

Like Hern, Laurance feels having the support of the 6,188 people who voted for Van Slyke in the primary could be key for determining who wins on Nov. 7.

"Naturally, I'll need their support," Laurance said. I'll need independents. I'll need a lot of timber folks to vote for me to be elected."

* You can reach reporter John Sowell at 957-4209 or by e-mail at


Blogger John said...

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012 4:00:00 PM  

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