PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The race to represent Oregon’s 4th District features two well-known candidates, one who became internationally famous in 2015 and the other a familiar presence in state politics for years.

Republican Alek Skarlatos is making his second attempt to win the seat held for 36 years by Democrat Peter DeFazio, who announced his retirement for the end of this term. Skarlatos, 29, lost to DeFazio in 2020. He has not held an elective office yet. But in 2015 he and two friends stopped a terrorist attack on a train from Amsterdam to Paris. Skarlatos played himself in the Clint Eastwood movie, “The 15:17 to Paris,” and later appeared on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Democrat Val Hoyle was elected Oregon Labor Commissioner in 2018. She previously served in the Oregon House of Representatives and garnered DeFazio’s endorsement to replace him in Congress.

Though they are the major candidates in the race, there are others on the November ballot: Jim Howard of the Constitution Party, Levi Leatherberry of the Independent Party and Michael Beilstein of the Pacific Green Party.

The 4th District includes Eugene, Corvallis and Coos Bay.

Oregon's 4th Congressional District, 2022 (Ballotpedia graphic)
Oregon’s 4th Congressional District, 2022 (Ballotpedia graphic)

Skarlatos and Hoyle

Alek Skarlatos and Val Hoyle each appeared for an extended interview by KOIN 6 News’ anchor Ken Boddie for “Eye on Northwest Politics.” They each answered similar but not the same questions and their answers to those questions are below.

Campaign Website: Alek Skarlatos for Congress
Campaign Website: Val Hoyle for Congress

Why they’re running for Oregon’s 4th District

Skarlatos: “My main goal in running is to help Oregon’s 4th Congressional District. As I said, we are the poorest congressional district in the state. We’ve had leadership from Peter DeFazio for 36 years. We have abundant natural resources. We’ve been Democrat, like I said, on the state level for almost 40 years in the governor’s mansion, and we are not better off for it. I will work with anyone who can help Oregon’s 4th Congressional District, help improve our economic outlook and that will include Democrats. This is still a Democrat-leaning district. I’m not going to be able to ignore Democrats and still be able to win. We need to win people in the middle, We need to win Democrats and if I’m going to actually get anything done in Congress or be there for very long I’m going to need to represent the entire 4th Congressional District. And that’s exactly what I plan on doing.”

Hoyle: “We’ve had for 36 years an incredibly strong voice for the 4th District — and for those people that don’t know, that district now includes Curry, Coos County, Douglas County out to Roseburg, Lane County, Benton County and Lincoln County. It’s 250 miles of the coast. And Peter DeFazio has chaired Transportation and Infrastructure, has done tremendous work and been a strong voice for our community, you know, areas of our community that often get overlooked. He decided to retire and I had to look long and hard. I’ve lived, raised my children, worked in this community. I’ve had the great pleasure to represent this community in the (Oregon) House and the entire state as Labor Commissioner. And I feel I have the skill set, understand the community. I earned Peter DeFazio’s endorsement because he feels I’m the strongest candidate with the background to be an effective, strong voice for the 4th Congressional District.”

Climate change

Alek Skarlatos is running for Oregon’s 4th congressional district seat (KOIN)

Skarlatos: “Oregon is already carbon negative and again, one of the best ways we can sequester carbon is by salvage logging. Trees put more carbon into the atmosphere decomposing after a forest fire than the forest fire itself actually puts into the atmosphere. My opponent has also said she believes in no new fossil fuels, which I find absolutely ridiculous when gas is $5 a gallon. I mean, there are ways we can common sense transition to green energy, but it just has to be in conjunction with a healthy economy. Even this giant wind farm going in off the coast of Coos Bay, they want to put it right in the middle of the most productive fishing lands on the Oregon coast and I think that’s an area where we can compromise on. We can still have a wind farm, just move it out of the productive fishing lands. Should be a common sense solution.”

Hoyle: “On climate, we need to urgently transition to a clean energy economy but in a way that doesn’t leave workers and communities behind. And then, finally, infrastructure. There is a great deal of money and investment coming through Biden’s infrastructure bill. It is the largest infrastructure investment we’ve seen since Eisenhower. I want to make sure that money comes to Oregon and comes to the 4th Congressional District, whether it’s building up a levee in Newport or in Springfield or really exciting opportunities for a container port in Coos Bay or offshore wind or upgrading our rail system.” … “Down here we have fire, we have droughts, we have extreme weather. It is right in our face. We cannot continue to kick the can down the road. I think every bill should be a climate change bill. I think we should move as quickly as possible away from fossil fuels. I will work incredibly hard to do that because we live in a beautiful state and I want to make sure we can continue to live here and have a good quality of life.”

Abortion:

Skarlatos: “I would not (support a bill to ban abortion nationally) and neither would the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court in that decision just delegated it down to the states. I am pro-life, but in Oregon nothing is going to change because our state legislature, the state senate and the governor’s mansion have all been one-party rule for almost 40 years. … The Supreme Court was pretty clear that abortion rights should be delegated to the states. And that’s exactly what happened. Again, Oregon is already set in statute that it’s going to be allowed. That’s fine. I have no problem with that. I’m not running for the Senate. I’m will not to appoint Supreme Court justices. I’m not running for the state House or the state Senate to change those laws.”

Homelessness/housing affordability:

Hoyle: “I believe the federal government has walked away from its responsibility on housing. Housing down here is a little different than in the metro area. We have less than 1% vacancy rates in many parts of the district, specifically on the coast. So, we need to, Number 1, work with communities to build new housing stock, make sure, I mean there are places on the coast that can’t hire employees because there isn’t enough housing. So it’s not just low-income housing. It’s middle-income housing. We need to ensure that we have the support of services for people that have addictions or mental illness or disabilities are able to stay in their home. So whether it’s fair housing or working with each community because the solutions in a rural community is different than the solutions in an urban community. So the federal government needs to work with each community to invest in projects, to expand housing stock and make sure people can stay housed.”

Inflation, economy, jobs

Skarlatos: “Reduce government spending. We just passed this incredibly large Inflation Reduction Act which is only going to make inflation worse. Of the infrastructure bill which I think was $1.3 trillion, only about $400 billion of that was for actual infrastructure. I mean, we can do things that make sense but bills as big as they are don’t make any sense for Oregon’s 4th District. I think both parties are responsible for this. Both parties add to the national debt at a tremendous rate. But I think the biggest thing we can do is have standalone bills. These massive spending packages that oftentimes are near or over $1 trillion are absolutely not sustainable. I mean, I’m only 29. I’m a younger millennial. My generation is going to have to be the one to deal with this incredible ballooning national debt.”

Val Hoyle in a photo provided by her campaign, 2022

Hoyle: “I think it was a really important step forward and shows that Democrats in Congress actually want to do something about addressing the issue. I think what we see a lot, what the GOP keeps pointing out what the problems are but they don’t want to be part of the solution. The Inflation Reduction Act capped insulin at $35 for everyone. And there was not one Republican that supported it. I think it just shows that Democrats are willing to come forward and bring solutions.” …”I think the first thing is Oregon can be a real major part of solving this problem, is addressing the supply chain issues. We saw this throughout the pandemic and there is a proposal that (Rep.) Peter DeFazio has worked very hard on to have a port in Coos Bay, a container port that would go straight to rail, and that would decrease our supply chain congestion on the West Coast by 10-12%. That is not a small thing. We need to bring manufacturing back to the United States and into Oregon specifically. And that Coos Bay project would create 9000 permanent jobs in Lane, Douglas and Coos counties. And that could help us restore the middle class that we once had when we had a lot of the timber jobs. So, I think it’s supply chain, also job training. I’ve worked very hard on expanding apprenticeships as Labor Commissioner, and we have lots of apprenticeship programs, not just in the building and construction trades, but in health care and manufacturing. So every employer I talk to says they are having trouble finding qualified workers and with our apprenticeship programs — which I would love to take our system nationally — we can connect workers who want a good job with the jobs that are available without a mountain of college debt.”

Election Integrity

Hoyle: “There has been a lot of misinformation. There is no evidence there was large-scale voter fraud anywhere. Here in Oregon, the New York Times said we have the best access to the ballot of any state in the country. So with automatic voter registration, with vote-by-mail, you have a paper copy of every single vote. I think we have the best program right here in Oregon. You can sit and look at your voter pamphlet statement, look at every single candidate and what they have to say. I think the rest of the country is out of step with Oregon and I will fight to make sure that Oregon’s voter programs can get passed at the federal level.”

Priorities if elected

Skarlatos: Responsible forest management “is anything that helps prevent forest fires. Some of the most egregious things are not salvage logging. And of course after not salvage logging they don’t replant the forest. So if you’re an environmentalist or you’re concerned about carbon sequestration, it would make total sense. I think it’s one of the easiest things that we should be able to find compromise on. And I’m surprised — I mean, I know we’ve had one-party rule in this state for quite some time — but I’m surprised we haven’t been able to compromise on at least that much already.” Asked if he supports de-regulating the logging industry: “I wouldn’t say de-regulating. I just think that we need to allow them to harvest and thin on the land that they’re already allowed to do that on. I just think that we need to increase those numbers because it’s obviously not enough. These fires in the Cascades are happening almost every year and they’re only getting larger.”

Hoyle: “What I’ve always done, which is to fight for working families. So, everything from what we did in the legislature to raise the minimum wage, enact Paid Family Leave, work on reducing the cost and availability of housing, that’s critical. Cost of child care, jobs in our community. So that’s one, working families. On climate, we need to urgently transition to a clean energy economy but in a way that doesn’t leave workers and communities behind. And then, finally, infrastructure. There is a great deal of money and investment coming through Biden’s infrastructure bill. It is the largest infrastructure investment we’ve seen since Eisenhower. I want to make sure that money comes to Oregon and comes to the 4th Congressional District, whether it’s building up a levee in Newport or in Springfield or really exciting opportunities for a container port in Coos Bay or offshore wind or upgrading our rail system. I would like to follow Peter DeFazio’s legacy in being a strong voice to bring infrastructure investment and jobs to this district. And as part of that having apprenticeship jobs to train the future workforce.” … “One of the reasons I believe I’m the most qualified person is that I’ve worked in the private sector, I’ve worked in government in a legislative body so I know how to pass laws and work with people on both sides of the aisle, and I’ve run an agency. Running an agency is completely different but I have that experience. So when I go to Washington I can work to ask the right questions to make sure that our federal government and those agencies are responding to people in the way that they should. And people expect their government to work and I’m excited to go to Washington and make sure that happens.”