Potwora plans to address issues from rural perspective

Audrey Caro Gomez

Joe Potwora sees a variety of problems in Salem he would like to fix. That’s why he is seeking a position as state representative for District 11.

“Working in the mortgage industry, as well as a small bank, I saw the impact of regulations on businesses and consumers,” Potwora said. “While some regulations are good, it is easy to overreach. I can say with certainty from a consumer’s perspective, getting a mortgage loan today is more costly, cumbersome and there is less personnel available to serve their needs.”

Legislation often has unintended consequences because politicians may have limited or no experience in the private sector, he said.

He served on the City of Eugene’s budget committee and said, at times, all voices were not heard. He believes that also happens at the state level.

Transparency and special interests are two areas Potwora plans to address if elected.

He would introduce legislation that would require a waiting period before legislation is voted on, to give citizens time to understand what bills are being debated, he said.

He also would also require a public notification process, which would include publication of the bill in various outlets in language that would be easy for the average reader to understand.

To ease voting down party lines, Potwora would like to establish a non-partisan group to summarize pros and cons of major legislation. Legislators would then be required to read the summary and sign an acknowledgment, he said.

Potwora said Oregon leadership is dominated by Portland ideas.

“As of July 2016, if you add up Independents, Republicans and non-affiliated registered voters, they make up 58 percent of all registered voters,” he said.

Recent legislation doesn’t reflect that, he said.

Powtora cites minimum wage legislation that has resulted in higher pay increases for workers in Portland than in Lane, Linn, or Benton counties.

The Renewal Portfolio excludes hydroelectricity as a renewable energy source, he said.

“(There is) an increase in gas prices to lower our carbon footprint but nothing earmarked for infrastructure,” Portwora added.

“This seems to reflect more of a Multnomah County that is made up of 56 percent Democratic voters versus the rest of the state,” Potwora said. “The district I am running for is made up of 54 percent Republicans, Independent and non-affiliated but the current state representative has voted 99 percent along Democratic lines the last two legislative sessions,” he said.


Potwora thinks local governments should have more control over education.

“I think you start at the classroom first,” he said.

He would like to find out how teachers, not administrators or politicians, would spend the approximate $9,000 per student that Oregon allocates.

“I also believe there may be statewide objectives for graduation rates or core competencies that should be factored into budgeting,” Potwora said.

Allocating funds for vocational training is a must, he added.

“Studies show students enrolled in vocational studies graduate 12-15 percentage point higher than Oregon’s average,” he said.

Measure 97

While he understands why Measure 97 was written, Potwora disagrees with its contents.

“No one really knows the true impact of taxing businesses on their gross receipts,” Potwora said. “Do they just absorb the cost, pass it onto their customers or simply leave Oregon for a more tax-friendly state?”

Measure 97 is the largest tax increase for a state in United States history, he said. It is a 25 percent increase in tax revenue that is not allocated for school, health, senior services or infrastructure.

“I do believe we need a more stable funding source for the state, but we only need to see the unintended consequences of PERS and the shortfall of Oregon Health’s budget to speculate possible outcomes of incorrect assumptions of well-intended but misguided legislation,” Potwora said. “I also think a measure that creates more public sector jobs at the expense of private sector jobs is not a good basis for support.”


If elected, Potwora said he would take time to talk to business leaders and owners about pending legislation that may affect job growth.

“I would look at existing legislation to see if the bill achieved its intended consequences or have there been facets that are not business-friendly,” Potwora said. “If the goals of legislation were not achieved or deemed to hurt small business, we would amend or repeal the legislation. Can you imagine if some type of sunset clause was put in when PERS legislation was being passed? We would have soon learned the unintended consequences of straining budgets and could have amended PERS to make it more sustainable.

“I sense many politicians think they are the smartest kid in the class when they get elected and that has to change and it starts by listening!”

Long-Term Strategy

If he doesn’t win this year, Potwora said he will spend the next two years preparing to run again.

He says he plans to listen to citizens of District 11 to understand what is important to them and spend time in Salem to understand what impact he can have on legislation as a citizen by attending legislative sessions or giving feedback to our elected officials, he said.

“I would also spend time with leadership in Salem to learn more about the legislative process so upon election success in future years, I would have climbed a learning curve that would make me that much more effective for the citizens of District 11,” Potwora said.