Bonamici and Cornilles battle it out

Jaime Valdez of The Times

By Teddi Faller, Staff Writer

At 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 10 at the Broadway Rose Theater, first congressional candidates Suzanne Bonamici (Democrat) and Rob Cornilles (Republican) worked to win over voters in preparation for Jan. 31, which is voting day.

Both candidates are rather moderate and indistinguishable from one another. When the chamber’s questions were asked of the candidates, both answered the question regarding the problems facing small businesses almost the same; small businesses need more access to capital. The only difference between the two candidates responses was Cornilles’ attack on Bonamici’s lack of business know-how.

The two candidates went back and forth a lot about ad campaigns. Cornilles accused Bonamici of the ads her representation put out against Cornilles, but Bonamici played the victim and tried to gain sympathy from the audience about how Cornilles was acting toward her.

Bonamici opened first with her “American dream” background story. She criticized congress saying, “Too many members of congress have the wrong priorities.” She worked her way through community college and UO Law School. Bonamici is known for her job as an attorney, but made it a point to say she took a career break to raise her kids. Her top priorities are to “rebuild the economy right now and in the long run”, rebuild infrastructure, fix the deficit, and protect Social Security and health care. She promises to “represent everyone whether they voted for [her] or not.”

Cornilles opened with his story about his small business Game Face and how he can employ people. He weirdly stated that he “couldn’t live up to” the past Republicans he admired. A strange remark, but he went on to discuss the main part of his platform – jobs.

“We need to modify the tax code […] for small businesses to grow and create jobs. Second to recognize strengths […] champion our products worldwide. Third fiscal responsibility.” After he discussed his platform and aims for when he’s in congress, he ended with a jab at Bonamici’s representatives putting out “deplorable” commercials about him and her support of David Wu.

The Chamber of Commerce had prepared four questions for the candidates after the opening statements. Bonamici stressed the importance of communication between legislators and small business owners– especially credit unions and small banks.

Cornilles agreed, but believes that a person with background in small business would be better suited for taking on that task. However, Bonamici rebutted and said that legislators need to be aware of the consequences.

The next question regarded health care and the candidates were asked how they would make it more affordable. Cornilles believes, “If you want to provide greater access, lower the cost”. He says that in order to gain more access we need to 1) create greater portability especially across state lines, 2) allow small businesses to pool for lower costs of premiums, and 3) make sure doctors and nurses don’t practice litigious medicine.

Bonamici also wants to lower the cost of health care so people can have more coverage. She thinks Congress should negotiate prescription drugs for senior citizens just like the way it is for the veterans.

The last main question they asked was what the candidates thought were the two challenges facing small businesses. Bonamici believes that access to capital would help the businesses to create jobs. The second challenge she named was the challenge of regulations on small businesses that aren’t appropriately addressed for small businesses like they were for the large businesses.

Cornilles agreed with Bonamici on what she said about capital. However, he added that Washington Co. needed a person who knows small business so that what needs to be done for businesses will be done quicker without having to learn all that goes into a business.

In the closing, Cornilles reflected on how he “learned as a father, coach and employer– if you want the same results, reward it.”

Basically, he means that Bonamici is more of the same and he’s new, which is what he believes Oregon needs.

Bonamici closed with stating that her time in Oregon legislature “isn’t long, but it’s strong.”

Cornilles wore a pink tie on a pale blue shirt with a black suit. The outfit greatly reflected Cornilles’ attitude during the debate. He was outspoken, bold and reached the crowd with his jokes, jabs, and gestures. Bonamici wore an off-black suit with a white blouse open at the collar and a simple gold chain. She had a scratchy throat that caused her to drink water periodically and cough. Her clothing also reflected how she was during the debate: passive.

The candidates are alike in  their beliefs, but completely different in their behaviors. Cornilles comes off as bold and demands action in his speech. Bonamici seems more reserved and doesn’t speak as much about doing, but more what was already done to justify herself against Cornilles.