PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon voters may be unfamiliar with gubernatorial candidate Donice Noelle Smith, who has not taken part in debates with frontrunners Tina Kotek, Christine Drazan and Betsy Johnson. However, Smith is on the ballot for the 2022 general election.
In a garbled call with from the open highways of Grant County on Wednesday, Smith told KOIN 6 News that she hasn’t been invited to participate in the featured debates. Instead, she’s spent the past month-and-a-half traveling Eastern Oregon by motorhome, campaigning for votes and preaching “life, liberty, limited government, God, family and country.”
“It’s very bothersome to me that [Kotek, Drazan and Johnson] do not believe Eastern Oregon is worth them coming out here,” Smith said.
The 67-year-old Constitution Party candidate, who considers herself a Constitutional Republican, gave KOIN 6 a brief rundown on her background and political views ahead of the election.
Smith has lived in Roseburg Oregon for the last 20 years, where she retired after 35 years of service in the Army and Army Reserve as an instructor, combat medic, corpsman, EMT and nurse. Smith said that she enlisted in the army after graduating high school in 1974 at the tail-end of the Vietnam War, where she planned to serve as a combat medic. She was ultimately diverted to Seoul, South Korea, where she spent 13 months working with Vietnam Veterans recovering from mental health issues.
Following her military service, Smith took up a civilian career as a licensed nurse in 1991, which she said she has since stepped away from to pursue a career in politics. Although Smith retains traditional Republican beliefs, she said that she is fed up with America’s two-party system — adding that a three-party system would better serve the people.
“I spent all my life as a Republican,” she said. “I still hold Republican values: individualism, right to self-determination, not too much government interference. Now it’s all about big money, more and more fundraising. They’ve lost touch with the people. I’m sick of feeling like I have no leadership.”
Smith also walks the Republican line for hot-button issues like abortion, second-amendment rights and fewer taxes. However, she said that her views on abortion aren’t uncompromising and that victims of rape and incest should be allowed to have abortions — preferably within the first month of pregnancy. The mother of five also supports abortion in cases of life-threatening medical emergencies like ectopic pregnancies.
“I’m ‘right to life,’ and pro-abortion under special circumstances,” she said. “But I’m not in favor of using abortion as a method of birth control.”
While openly religious, Smith said that she doesn’t like organized religion and that she also doesn’t support condemning people based on their or sexual orientation.
“Everybody should be treated the same regardless of their sexual orientation,” she said.
However, in the Oregon Voters Pamphlet, Smith denounces the teaching of gender identity in schools, and calls for “no gender nonsense.”
Smith is not projected to earn a significant number of votes, with polls showing a dead heat between Kotek and Drazan. However, Smith said that she plans to continue campaigning in Eastern Oregon, where she has unspecified future plans to continue her political career.
“I will continue as long as I have breath in my body,” Smith said. “I am no-nonsense. I compromise only when it’s for the good of Oregonians. I want Oregonians to be listened to.”