District 11: Barnhart
Byline: The Register-Guard
Secretary of State Bill Bradbury didn't do Rep. Phil Barnhart any favors when he redrew Oregon's legislative districts. Bradbury divided south Eugene - the heart of Barnhart's old House of Representatives district - between two new districts, and assigned Barnhart to a district in central Oregon. But Barnhart easily won the Democratic nomination in one of the new districts last May, defeating the more conservative Rep. Al King. The political lesson is that education is the No. 1 issue for Oregon voters today, and no one is a more passionate advocate of education than Barnhart.
Barnhart is running in District 11, an oddly shaped piece of political geography that covers southeast Eugene, Creswell and Pleasant Hill, curves east of Springfield to take in Walterville, then broadens northward to include Coburg and southern Linn County. It's a microcosm of Oregon, with urban, rural and suburban territory. Barnhart is by far the better qualified of two candidates seeking to represent this diverse district.
Barnhart, 56, is a lawyer who made a mid-career switch to work as a psychologist. A concern for the quality of education drew him into politics - first on the Eugene School Board, where he served for six years, and then in the Oregon House, to which he was elected in 2000, replacing Rep. Floyd Prozanski, who was forced into retirement by term limits.
Barnhart's Republican opponent is Robert Bolanos, 30, a sales and marketing manager for Arlie & Co. …