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Bilateral trade negotiations have begun with Japan, the top importer of the soft white wheat grown in the mid-Columbia, wheat growers in Wasco and Sherman counties heard Feb. 4.

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In November, educators and school children got a champion. The homeless got an advocate and environmentalists got a steward. But perhaps the people most happy with Gov. Kate Brown’s re-election reside in Oregon’s union shops.

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U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden fielded wide-ranging questions from students and community members at Dufur School Tuesday, and in response to one, said attorney general nominee William Barr considers presidents “royalty” and above the law. “In his actual own words, he pretty much thinks the president is royalty,” Wyden said of Barr at the town hall meeting.

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Due to changes in the calendar for the House of Representatives announced Jan. 15 by Democratic leadership, Representative Greg Walden’s (R-Hood River) town halls originally scheduled for Baker, Wallowa, Union, Umatilla, Morrow, Gilliam, Hood River, and Wasco counties the week of Jan. 21 will be rescheduled, according to a press release.

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Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) will hold town halls in Dufur Jan. 22 and Hood River Jan. 21. Meetings will also be held in Benton, Linn, Clackamas, Polk, Jackson, Josephine, Multnomah, Crook, Jefferson and Deschutes counties, according to a press release from Wyden.

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Due to changes in the calendar for the House of Representatives announced today, Jan. 15, by Democratic leadership, Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) town halls originally scheduled for Baker, Wallowa, Union, Umatilla, Morrow, Gilliam, Hood River, and Wasco counties the week of Jan. 21 will be rescheduled for later dates and announced accordingly.

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Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) will hold 16 town halls in 15 eastern Oregon counties in January. He will be in The Dalles Thursday, Jan. 24, 10:30 a.m., at the Oregon Veterans Home, 700 Veterans Dr., and in Hood River at 8 a.m. the same day at the National Guard Armory, 1590 12th St.

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Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a cumulative report Friday identifying core strategies to addressing and preventing cybersecurity incidents.

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The D21 school board will host the first of several listening sessions next Thursday, Nov. 15, at the middle school to hear from citizens in the wake of a resounding defeat of its $235 million bond authority measure. The measure went down with just a 40.8 percent yes vote.

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SALEM — On election night, Oregonians blocked attempts to overturn the state's sanctuary status for undocumented immigrants and affirmed public funding for reproductive health care, holding onto its status as a socially liberal state. In so doing, Oregon voters rejected socially conservative priorities by large margins.

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Wasco County had a Republican sweep on Tuesday that aided in victories for Rep. Daniel Bonham, who resides in The Dalles, and Sen. Cliff Bentz of Ontario. Although local voters favored Knute Buehler for governor by a 51.75 percent margin, he lost when state majority voter preference was shown for incumbent Democrat Kate Brown.

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The Dalles City Council will have two new faces when it convenes in January after successful re-election bids by two incumbents in Tuesday’s election.

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U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., defeated Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner Tuesday night but credited his opponent for mounting a “relentless” campaign that earned more votes than any of his previous opponents. “No one’s run a more aggressive campaign against me than Ms. McLeod-Skinner — she worked hard and gave voters a choice,” he said.

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Wasco County’s ballot return rate is down six percentage points from four years ago, but Lisa Gambee, elections clerk, said the trend has been for about 40 percent of ballots to get turned in during the last two days of the election cycle. As of Monday, the turnout rate for the county stood at 24 percent, down from 30 percent four years ago.

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Democratic candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner held a town hall in The Dalles last week at the middle school to address questions that ranged from health care to cultural values from an audience of more than 100 people. Her opponent, Greg Walden, a Republican, was invited to attend but had a pre-planned tour of Kingsley Air Base with Mac Thornberry, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, to discuss making the base the future home of F-35 fighter jets.

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U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., started his 906th town hall Monday at The Dalles High School, with a moment of humor. “What happens in a town hall meeting is that I talk for 45 minutes or so and folks really enjoy it,” he said to the audience of students that was sprinkled with community members. He then fielded questions for the next hour that ranged from climate change to immigration reform and how to overcome homelessness — and policies set by the Trump Administration.

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Following is the third and final story on the contested races for The Dalles City Council. Incumbent Tim McGlothlin is being challenged by Chip Wood for the Position 1 seat in the Nov. 6 general election. Both candidates were presented with six questions and asked to respond in their own words, with a limit of 200 words per question.

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Ballots will be mailed out Wednesday, Oct. 17, and those going overseas, to the military or out of state have already been issued. Wasco County Elections Clerk Lisa Gambee said ballots should arrive in mailboxes within two to three days after they are sent out, depending on where people live in the county.

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As the Nov. 6 vote approaches on a $235 million bonding authority to replace four schools, a local woman caused a stir on social media last weekend questioning the district’s decision not to seek a $4 million matching grant for the project. A district official said North Wasco County School District 21 tried but failed to get two smaller planning grants that would’ve helped the district create the extensively detailed reports necessary to seek the larger grant.

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Wasco County Assessor Jill Amery sent out a press release last week to explain how passage of a measure to fund new schools would affect property taxes, but her description is being disputed by school officials and supporters of the bond levy. Amery’s account of how Measure 33-98 would play out is refuted by Randy Anderson, chief financial officer for North Wasco County School District 21, and Dr. Analene Pentopolous, chair of the Strong Community Schools committee, proponents of the bond.

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City of The Dalles Incumbent Russ Brown, a retired contractor, has been challenged for the Position 3 council seat by Tiffany Prince, executive assistant to the president and board of education at Columbia Gorge Community College. Both candidates were presented with six questions and asked to respond in their own words, with a limit of 200 words per question.

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Voters must register by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16, to participate in the Nov. 6 general election and they can do that at the Wasco County Courthouse or online at oregonvotes.gov. Ballots will be mailed out Wednesday, Oct. 17, and those going overseas, to the military or out of state have already been issued.

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Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (OADP) is starting an educational push to rally public support for changes in the law that will make it more difficult to execute condemned prisoners. Ultimately, the group will ask voters to replace the death penalty with life sentences.

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SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown wants to guard against a rollback of federal environmental rules by moving them into state law where the Trump administration couldn’t touch them. “As states, we can take a leadership role in preventing the erosion of core laws that protect our environment,” Brown said in remarks at an event at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry Wednesday.

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Candidates John Fredrick, Rod Runyon and Brian Stevens, who are seeking the city council post being vacated by Taner Elliot, provided the written answers to a series of questions posed by the Chronicle. The three candidates for the at-large position spoke about what they see as key issues facing the city and how they feel Google funds should be distributed.

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A seven-day march/caravan seeking to end housing of immigration detainees in Oregon concluded Saturday with about 175 people marching through downtown The Dalles to the regional jail. A local group, Gorge ICE Resistance, has picketed the jail daily for over 520 consecutive days in an effort to get the jail to drop its contract to house immigration detainees.

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The Skinner family has called on Jamie McLeod-Skinner to quit using photos of their ranch in her campaign out of the belief that she is “misleading” voters by claiming ties to Eastern Oregon that she does not have. “It’s time to clear up this nonsense about Jamie being part of our ranch family,” stated Bob Skinner, former president of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and current officer of the National Public Lands Council, in a press release distributed last week.

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A seven-day walk to demand an end to the housing of immigration detainees in Oregon began Sunday in Sheridan and ends at the regional jail in The Dalles Saturday. Both towns have correctional facilities that hold detainees.

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The Oregon Court of Appeals sided with Wasco County in a Sept. 19 decision, ruling that a 2015 lawsuit brought by The Dalles resident Chip Wood was correctly ruled moot by a trial court. Wood sued the county commission after it voted in December 2014 to leave the North Central Public Health District.

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U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and his Democratic challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner will face off in a televised debate on Friday, Oct. 5, in Bend. The two candidates for the Second Congressional District, which encompasses 20 counties, will square off at 7 p.m. on KTVZ News Channel 21.

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A number of voter registration events have been arranged in the region by Columbia Women’s Action Network (CWAC) from 4 to 7 p.m. Sept. 25 at locations including The Dalles, Goldendale, Lyle Bingen, White Salmon, Hood River and Cascade Locks

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Three sets of candidates for state office faced off last week at the “Before the Ballot” forum sponsored by The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce.

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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown visited Sherman County last week and heard from farmers and cattlemen that repairing roads and fences were top issues following the summer’s devastating fires.

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This is the first of two stories highlighting comments made by local and state candidates during a public forum in The Dalles. This article centers on city council contenders and a second story on Wednesday will feature candidates for state office.

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The mayor of Phoenix, Ore., is on a mission to “set the record straight regarding false information” being disseminated by Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a candidate for Oregon’s Second Congressional District, about her being fired as city manager in March 2017. “The narrative that she’s portraying about Phoenix and the reasons behind her contract being terminated are just not true. Period,” said Mayor Chris Luz.

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler, center, spent Saturday in Hood River enjoying two events and meeting with area residents. He first went to the Farmer’s Market and then joined a large crowd at the annual Fly-In sponsored by the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum.

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The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce and the Mid-Columbia Senior Center will be hosting the only candidate forum in Wasco County on Sept. 11. The event will feature congressional, state and local candidates appearing on the Nov. 6 ballot.

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SALEM — The Oregon Department of Justice has closed a criminal investigation into two petitioners who were accused of giving false information to persuade voters to sign a petition to repeal the state sanctuary law. Initiative Petition 22 has since qualified for the ballot as Measure 105, Stop Oregon Sanctuaries.

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The filing period for candidates seeking a seat on The Dalles City Council closed Tuesday with three contested races, but only one contender for mayor.

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All three major political party candidates have been invited to the first of three major gubernatorial debates before the Nov. 6 general election. Children First for Oregon, along with television station KOIN and Pamplin Media Group, will host the first major debate of the election season Oct. 2 with an atypical format: Children will pose all of the questions to the three candidates.

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Jamie McLeod-Skinner, candidate for Congress to represent Wasco County and Eastern Oregon, speaks at an auction party at Sunshine Mill in The Dalles Saturday night. McLeod-Skinner is running against Greg Walden, the current representative, in November’s election.

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Primary election night in Washington came and went, with a mixed bag of results for both Republicans and Democrats as the two parties set their sights to November’s general election. In the 3rd Congressional District, Republican incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler looks to be facing her toughest re-election campaign since she first won her seat to the House of Representatives in 2010.

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Rep. Knute Buehler, Republican nominee for governor, has announced a seven-point plan to end the burgeoning homeless population with the aim of ending unsheltered homelessness by 2023. Nearly 14,000 people are considered homeless in Oregon, an increase of 6 percent between 2015 and 2017, according to a survey in early January 2017 by Oregon Housing and Community Services.

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Richard Mays is so far running unopposed for the position of The Dalles Mayor, but that hasn’t stopped him from actively campaigning. Mays, 67, has printed business cards with his contact info and motto “Experience-Independence — Trust” that he is passing out during his travels.