Three Republicans running in 1st Congressional District

Goli Ameri, Tim Phillips and Jason Meshell candidates are running for the Republican choice in Oregon’s Congressional District 1. All three are fiscally conservative, staunch President Bush supporters and paint themselves as pro-business.

Each considers himself or herself an insider professionally with the high-tech community, capable of advocating for that voter segment and therefore best deserving of support from Washington County’s Silicon Forest populace.

But to win they must also attract voters in other, diverse parts of the district, which extends from Portland’s west side to Astoria, from the Columbia River into Yamhill County. Besides its urban wing and suburban-high tech center, the district is home to a thriving agri-business industry, small rural communities and coastal fishing and tourism interests.

The three candidates take similar stands favoring government investment in new or expanded infrastructure (especially Highways 217 and 26), tax incentives to preserve private health care plans and reducing government regulations and litigation they believe are detrimental to business. As Republicans they feel economic recovery will result from private initiative, not government intervention.

The three believe President Bush is going in the right direction in the war in Iraq and the battle against terrorism. None propose that U.S. forces leave Iraq before peaceful settlement and a democratic government are established. They support the U.S. Patriot Act, though Phillips has reservations about some aspects.

Ameri, a native of Iran whose family emigrated during the Islamic revolution, blames much of the current turmoil in Iraq on extremist Islam clerics.

“America was forced to invade Iraq, and we must show our resolve to finish the war,” she said, adding that any United Nation’s role should be limited to peacekeeping.

On social issues, Ameri and Phillips are pro-choice but oppose partial-birth abortions. Meshell is pro-life and has gained the endorsement of Oregon Right to Life.

Of the three, Ameri is perhaps best known in Republican circles. She has worked on the campaigns of Republicans Sen. Gordon Smith and former District 1 candidate Molly Bordonaro and was a delegate to the National Republican Women’s Conference.

She also campaigned publicly against Measure 30, contending that raising taxes would retard economic recovery and hurt struggling businesses.

Ameri, 47, who lives in Tigard, came to the United States at age 17 and entered Stanford University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication. She later worked for high-tech companies before starting her own high-tech consulting business, eTinium. She and her husband, Jim Ameri, a real estate investor, have two children.

Phillips, 37, a Portland resident, owns Phillips and Co. Securities, a brokerage firm, with many of his clients in the tech sector of Portland and Washington County. He is a graduate of Pepperdine University and lives in Portland with his wife and two small children.

Meshell, 33, lives in Scappoose and commutes to Merant PVCS Division in Hillsboro where he is an executive. He and his wife have three children. Meshell is a graduate of the University of Portland and the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College.

He is a member of the fiscally conservative Citizens for a Sound Economy and the National Rifle Association.

All three candidates favor a permanent tax cut as proposed by the Bush administration.

Phillips endorses a cap on federal spending. “Growth of the federal budget should be tied to inflation and population,” he said. He also supports stricter audits to monitor government programs and the establishment of a U.S. commission on government waste.

Ameri would limit a growth in domestic spending to 1 percent annually but wants aggressive defense spending that would include a kind of Marshall Plan for Iraq.

Meshell favors a flat tax and would support a sales tax in Oregon only if it replaced the current income tax. He also believes the government could cut costs by stop providing public services “to those inside the country illegally.” He opposes Bush’s proposed amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Ameri’s focus is on cutting taxes for start-up companies.

Calling himself a savvy businessman who is open-minded, Phillips likes investment tax credits but opposes expensing stock options and the Alternative Minimum Tax.

Meshell said investment incentives should be directed to high technology and the logging industry, the two areas of the economy most likely to create family-wage jobs. He also wants federal money spent on developing hydrogen fuel to phase out a dependence on foreign petroleum.

In criticizing Democratic Congressman David Wu, Ameri believes the United States should pursue greater trade with China. “His opposition is hurting Oregon’s economy,” she said.

Phillips would like to see federal investment in nanotechnology, or advanced electronic research, in Washington County.

“It could make us the leader in nanotechnology product development,” he said.

He said he will work to get more federal grant money to local schools.

To extend more health care coverage to Americans, all three favor some kind of tax-free health savings plan. Small businesses should be permitted to band together and form insurance subscribers’ pools.

To cut health care costs, they want restrictions placed on malpractice lawsuits and lawyers’ fees. Ameri and Phillips also urge government review of wasteful spending by doctors and hospitals.